Parents, students fight to keep school open

Dozens of students were joined by parents and city council members Tuesday night to oppose a potential plan from the Providence School Board to close Alvarez High School and turn the building into a middle school.

"I see closing the school as defeating the message of students come first," parent Jean Link told the board.

School officials claim there will be an influx of middle school students in the next few years expecting hundreds more students than they have now.

They say they need space for those students, and have the room to move the Alvarez students out to other high schools next year.

Students argue a move will be disruptive, and they tried to counteract Alvarez's status as a low achieving school.

Donald Brennan says it turned him around. "I had teachers who are passionate about their work and want their students to succeed and do well in life," he said.

For some parents and students it's deja vu, as they had already spoken out against a round of school closings just two-and-a-half years ago. Jean Link said, "I'm beginning to feel like my children should be the poster children for school closures. They have been affected at every level of their school life - elementary, middle, and now high school."

School officials say they are looking at other options, such as moving one high school grade out per year, so no students have to leave before graduating.

Folks in the crowd suggested making Alvarez grades 7 through 12 or using previously closed schools that are now empty to house the added middle schoolers.

School board members told the crowd that closing Alvarez is the last option.

A decision on the fate of Alvarez, which opened six years ago, is expected soon, possibly as early as the school board meeting on Nov. 25.