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      Back to School: Providence opens to increasing enrollment

      It's been seven years since students called West Broadway their school. With the start of Providence public schools Wednesday comes the reopening of West Broadway, this time around it will be a middle school.

      "We're fifth and sixth grades and we'll add a grade each year so eventually we'll be a fifth through eighth middle school," Principal Bill Black said.

      Black taught in the Providence school district when the school closed due to low enrollment numbers in 2007. Families living in the city were devastated when its doors were shuttered.

      "The interesting thing with us is in Providence in sixth grade we had a huge bump in middle school students," Black said.

      That bump in middle school enrollment is expressly unique to the city of Providence. Elsewhere around the state schools are 18.8 percent below capacity, meaning there's room for 31,240 more students here statewide. The Department of Education says if schools aren't consolidated statewide that gap will grow.

      West Broadway will be the only middle school in Providence to start as young as fifth grade instead of sixth, if it goes well it could have an impact on other area schools.

      "So we'll get a chance to almost experiment in a way and make that connection at an earlier level. Sometimes you see certain behaviors in middle school. We'll have the students at a younger age and they'll grow with us over the next few years so we'll be able to compare that to the other schools and see how we're doing," Black said.

      Superintendent Susan Lusi and Mayor Angel Taveras stopped by Wednesday morning to congratulate Black and wish him well this school year.