Warwick residents eye new committee in light of planned school closure

  • Warwick Community School on Winchester Road in Warwick, May 30, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

Recorder Staff
Tuesday, July 03, 2018

WARWICK — As the Pioneer Valley Regional School Committee continues to discuss the possibility of closing elementary schools, Warwick residents are coming together to find effective ways to interact with the board and preserve their town’s elementary school.

About a dozen residents met at the Warwick library Tuesday night to explore the possibility of forming a committee for dealing specifically with issues related to the elementary school and the town’s involvement in the Pioneer Valley Regional School District. Budget troubles in the district have led officials to investigate the possibility of closing one or both of the district’s two smaller elementary schools — Warwick Community School and Leyden’s Pearl Rhodes Elementary School.

On Tuesday, there was much discussion on the “deficit spending bill” that Rep. Paul Mark (D-Peru) submitted to the state legislature last week. This bill, if passed, will allow the school district to borrow up to $2 million dollars to correct its financial deficits in the 2018 fiscal year, which just ended, and the 2019 fiscal year. The money would have to be paid back in 10 years or less.

The bill also suspends the district agreement’s requirement that elementary school students be educated in their home towns, effectively allowing the district to close elementary schools. Jeff Wulfson, deputy commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the intention of the bill was not to force the district to close schools.

The group at the Tuesday meeting floated different options for a committee that could interact in some official capacity with the School Committee or the Honest Education and Retaining Trust (HEART) Committee. The new board would keep Warwick residents informed of activity having to do with the school system.

The group plans to meet again on July 17 at Warwick’s Trinitarian Congregational Church at 6:45 p.m. Interested residents are welcome to attend.