Back to School: Warwick Vets opens, at least for now

It's a day many parents and students thought might never come -- another first day of school at Warwick Vets High School.

The school committee announced plans last year to turn the high school into a junior high and send students to Pilgrim High School but passionate protests put those plans on hold.

After a lengthy back and forth in December 2013, the school committee decided to give families more time and allow them time to study the issue. The plan was to hire a consultant, but nine months later they still haven't done that and enrollment is lower than ever before.

"Right now we're 860 students, capacity is about 1,200-1,300," said Principal Gerry Habershaw.

He said the proposed consolidation hurt enrollment this year.

"The negativity surrounding the school crisis hurts us as far as enrollment goes, people are now sending their kids to private schools because we don't know if we're going to stay open," Habershaw said.

Whether the school will stay open remains unknown, Mayor Scott Avedisian told NBC 10 closing at least one school is a necessity.

"We're down to less than 9,200 students in our system and I think everybody knows we need to make changes in what buildings we use and how we're going to use them," he said.

It's possible the consultant could agree with the initial decision, and Warwick Vets could close next year.

"If it comes back with the same exact results then we probably have wasted several years where we could have made the consolidations and we could have moved forward," Avedisian said.

A final decision is expected by the end of the school year.

"It's like getting a second opinion I'm sure when they sent the man to the moon they didn't go with the first plan," said Warwick Superintendent Richard D'Agostino.

The school committee wants parents to know the consultant study, when it happens, will be a transparent process.

The principal said that was part of the problem last year, the announcement of the intention to close this place caught people off guard.

This year, the plan is to keep parents informed and involved the entire time.