Providence Parents Blast Decision to Close Fox Point Pre-K
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
"Until I entered the world of special needs, I didn’t understand it. My child has the developmental age of 2. Would you send your two-year old out of their community? You don’t know one child on the bus," said Gregorian parent Holybeth Runco. "You don’t know one student in that school or any of their parents. Your child now has a long bus ride resulting in an 8 hour day."
"With the closing of the VG Pre-K, the school district leadership and the Mayor are leaving an entire neighborhood, from Fox Point to Mt. Hope, void of a public Pre-K option," said concerned parent Kira Green. "To make matters worse, they did not feel the need to involve the families and community in this decision making process."
Green said that Gregorian parents received talking points last week on the change from Superintendent Lusi. "Even though parents have found this to be misleading, it was distributed to all VG families on Friday," said Green.
The School Department did not respond to request for comment Monday.
Concerns for Lack of Pre-K on East Side
DeShaw continued, "Parents do not feel they have a voice. Information was not sent home to even notify the pre-K families that their children were being moved to another school. Personally, I heard about this change from another parent, in passing. Since the District is so vocal about parent engagement, the lack of outreach to parents has been surprising."
Gregorian parent Kate Wodehose expressed her concerns on the development. "My perspective is that of a parent who was dependent on the local public school system to provide an integrated Pre-K classroom to meet our son's needs, and it was extremely important that our son be educated in our local community where we live, work and play. If the Pre-K classroom had not been available on the East Side then we would have moved to another community and possibly changed jobs so that at least one of us could work closer to home."
Process Moving Forward?
Providence School Board President Keith Oliveira acknowledged the concerns of Gregorian parents -- and that the decision might not yet be final.
"I don't know what the final configurations are going to be," said Oliveira. "I have to follow up with the Administration.
Oliveira continued, "When we met with [Vartan Gregorian] recently, Superintendent Lusi explained it to them. They were concerned that there was going be no pre-K. There still will be city-wide pre-K. Pre-K currently has limited slots, and is on an application basis. And it's not the case that pre-K means you go to that school for elementary."
"I'm hoping that the administration gives clarity to the issue," said Oliveira. "It would be ideal if we could increase pre-K classrooms, but what additional resources can we get to provide? Mayor Taveras is talking about expanding it if he's elected -- there are precious slots. I can understand how parents might feel the inconvenience."
Parents countered that they wanted pre-K options if not in their school, than at least in their district.
"We support Asa Messer opening up a pre-K and believe every neighborhood in Providence should have at least one public pre-K classroom," said DeShaw. "Since MLK no longer has pre-K classrooms, there will be no public options for students in this neighborhood."
Runco added, "We are not trying to create a program that does not exist. We are simply trying to stop the district strategy to segregate our special needs children from their home community. In 2014, we will go from 3 pre-K classrooms to 0. Of 26 proposed pre-K classrooms, 0% will reside on the East Side. Providence is professing to support Universal pre-K; we can start by not decimating the programs that we already have."
A spokesperson for Taveras, who is running on a universal pre-K platform in his bid for Governor, did not respond to request for comment.
"The Mayor is running for Governor on a universal Pre-K platform. We did not think, therefore, that under his leadership, he would shut down a Pre-K down in one neighborhood and open one up in another? Parents want the same thing for their children regardless of where they live," said Green. "Providence should be working to open a public pre-K in every area in the city, not picking and choosing neighborhoods by by essentially pitting one need against another."
Related Slideshow: Rhode Island School Superintendent Salaries
Below are the salaries of school superintendents in Rhode Island, starting with the lowest paid. Data is for 2013 and was provided by the state Division of Municipal Finance. Where relevant, longevity pay is also listed. All school superintendents are listed except those in the independent school districts in Foster and Glocester. The combined Foster-Glocester district is included. In order to provide a more informed basis for comparing superintendents from one community to another, the annual student enrollment and total expenditures are also listed. (The data is for fiscal year 2012, the latest available from the state Department of Education.)
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