Parents, students pack Warwick Vets meeting

A public hearing on school closures in Warwick turned raucous at times Monday night.

Hundreds of parents, students and teachers packed the auditorium at Toll Gate High School to protest the potential closing of Warwick Veterans Memorial High School.

At one point, opponents of the plan shouted as school officials gave their presentation.

The school committee is considering a proposal to close two junior high schools, Gorton and Aldrich, and turn Warwick Vets into a junior high. The high school students currently at Vets would be sent to the city's two other high schools.

Opponents claim class sizes will balloon and students will lose their sense of school community.

Choir members even protested with an original song during the meeting.

School superintendent Richard D'Agostino tells NBC 10 consolidation is needed after years of dropping enrollment and half-full schools.

He claims the closings will save $11 million up front and $4.5 million a year after. "If you take away the emotion, when you look at the numbers, when you look at the declining enrollment, and the need for new programs, and the need to fix our buildings, this becomes a no-brainer," D'Agostino told NBC 10.

But critics claim the numbers are flawed and say the human element is being discounted.

Vets junior Lexi Romano told NBC10, "If I couldn't be a Hurricane anymore, and I'd have to be something else, that would be heartbreaking."

The school committee is holding another public hearing Tuesday night at Toll Gate and is expected to vote on the plan next Tuesday.