Meetings address proposed closure of Warwick high school

Parents and students are expected at a Warwick School Committee hearing on Monday night to voice their opposition to a plan to close one of the city's high schools.

The School Committee is considering a plan that calls for two of the city's three junior high schools to close and for Warwick Veterans Memorial High School to be turned into a junior high school.

Students from Vets would then be divided between the city's other two high schools, Pilgrim and Toll Gate.

"If I couldn't be a Hurricane anymore and I had to be something else, that would be heart-breaking. It wouldn't be a fun senior year. I wouldn't be with the people that I started high school with and I wouldn't get to graduate with the people that I started high school with," Lexi Romano, a Vets student, said.

Parents, students and teachers protested the proposal last month as a special committee looking into school consolidation voted to pass its plan onto the School Committee.

At the time, superintendent Richard D'Agostino said the move would save the city $11 million to start and more than $4 million a year after that. He said student enrollment has dropped so much over the past few decades that some of the schools are barely half full.

"We have lost over half of our population from our peak in 1968 of 20,000 students, we're down to 9,200 students. So, we have declining population and having three high schools, we're having difficulty running three high schools and the expenses that we have," D'Agostino said Monday night.

The School Committee hearing started at 6 p.m. Monday with a presentation, followed by public comment. There will be another hearing Tuesday.{} Both hearings will be held in the Toll Gate auditorium.

The School Committee plans to vote on the proposal Dec. 10.