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Providence Parents Blast Decision to Close Fox Point Pre-K

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

 

Parents at the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School on Wickenden Street in Providence are speaking out on a recent announcement by the Providence Public School Department that pre-K will be eliminated from the school next year, and added to Asa Messer Elementary on the West Side -- leaving the East Side devoid of any public pre-K options. 

"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.

See Talking Points HERE

The School Department did not respond to request for comment Monday.

Concerns for Lack of Pre-K on East Side

"I was very surprised by this announcement. The students in the pre-K classrooms benefit greatly from being housed at VG. A few years ago VG's playground became handicap accessible," said Kirstin DeShaw, Co-President of the Gregorian PTO. "The PTO provides the students with enrichment programs each year, funding for a chicks program, teacher stipends for the teachers to purchase needed supplies, and much more. The vibrant VG community is the perfect environment for young students and their families."

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?

"For those in the Vartan/MLK community, I’m interested to know who would chose this for their child and why the district is committed to an action detrimental to every special needs child on the East Side. I’m interested to know their incentives. I’m interested to know how many special education children with MKL/Vartan listed as their neighborhood school are currently faced with this situation," said Runco. "I want to know who these families are. I want them to know that we are trying to provide a voice for their needs also."

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.)

Prev Next

34. New Shoreham

Superintendent Robert Hicks

Salary: $45,280

District Profile

Student Body Size: 112

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $4,443,923

Note: Position is part-time.

Prev Next

33. Little Compton

Superintendent Kathryn M. Crowley

Salary: $63,500

District Profile

Student Body Size: 295

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $6,995,203

Note: Position is part-time.

Prev Next

32. Jamestown

Superintendent Marcia Lukon

Salary: $67,039

District Profile

Student Body Size: 481

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $12,049,735

Note: Position is part-time.

Prev Next

31. Johnston

Superintendent Bernard DiLullo, Jr.

Salary: $121,456

Longevity Pay: $2,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,917

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $50,452,203

Salary includes longevity pay.

Prev Next

30. Tiverton

Superintendent William J. Rearick

Salary: $125,032

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,738

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $28,715,478

Prev Next

29. North Providence

Superintendent Melinda Smith

Salary: $127,600

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,301

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $47,235,638

Prev Next

28. North Smithfield

Superintendent Stephen Lindberg

Salary: $129,854

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,704

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $23,498,113

Prev Next

27. Portsmouth

Superintendent Lynn Krizic

Salary: $132,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,590

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $36,591,167

Prev Next

26. West Warwick

Superintendent Karen Tarasevich

Salary: $134,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,374

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $53,918,748

Prev Next

25. Exeter-West Greenwich

Superintendent James H. Erinakes II

Salary: $135,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,678

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $32,331,544

Prev Next

24. Narragansett

Superintendent Katherine E. Sipala

Salary: $138,485

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,407

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $26,850,371

Prev Next

23. Burrillville

Superintendent Frank Pallotta

Salary: $139,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,418

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $31,681,821

Prev Next

22. Smithfield

Superintendent Robert O'Brien

Salary: $141,481

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,349

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $34,311,788

Prev Next

21. Foster-Glocester

Superintendent Michael S. Barnes

Salary: $141,756

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,226

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $18,267,711

Prev Next

20. Bristol-Warren

Superintendent Melinda Thies

Salary: $142,550

Longevity Pay: $2,550

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,454

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $51,591,792

Prev Next

19. East Greenwich

Superintendent Victor Mercurio

Salary: $144,279

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,323

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $32,975,952

Prev Next

18. East Providence

Superintendent Kim Mercer

Salary: $144,279

District Profile

Student Body Size: 5,338

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $77,242,920

Prev Next

17. Central Falls

Superintendent Frances Gallo

Salary: $144,900

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,724

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $51,519,366

Prev Next

16. Coventry

Superintendent Michael Almeida

Salary: $145,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 4,970

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $67,620,141

Prev Next

15. Cranston

Superintendent Judith Lundsten

Salary: $145,083

District Profile

Student Body Size: 10,030

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $140,651,662

Prev Next

14. North Kingstown

Superintendent Phillip Auger

Salary: $145,352

District Profile

Student Body Size: 4,398

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $61,636,874

Prev Next

13. Westerly

Superintendent Roy Seitsinger

Salary: $146,477

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,030

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $55,015,253

Prev Next

12. Barington

Superintendent Michael Messore

Salary: $147,500

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,101

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $44,851,748

Note: Salary includes longevity pay.

Prev Next

11. Chariho

Superintendent Barry J. Ricci

Salary: $149,030

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,421

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $55,831,939

Note: District includes towns of Charlestown, Richmond, and Hopkinton.

Prev Next

10. Lincoln

Superintendent Georgia Fortunato

Salary: $149,130

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,236

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $49,551,778

Prev Next

9. Woonsocket

Superintendent Giovanna M. Donoyan

Salary: $150,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 5,636

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $77,022,482

Prev Next

8. Scituate

Superintendent Paul R. Lescault

Salary: $150,098

District Profile

Student Body Size: 1,492

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $22,330,940

Prev Next

7. South Kingstown

Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow

Salary: $151,008

District Profile

Student Body Size: 3,393

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $59,950,442

Prev Next

6. Middletown

Superintendent Rosemarie K. Kraeger

Salary: $154,059

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,360

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $37,340,131

Prev Next

5. Newport

Superintendent John H. Ambrogi

Salary: $155,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 2,005

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $39,683,489

Prev Next

4. Cumberland

Superintendent Philip Thorton

Salary: $158,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 4,470

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $55,508,846

Prev Next

3. Pawtucket

Superintendent Deborah A. Cylke

Salary: $159,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 9,072

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $112,889,497

Prev Next

2. Warwick

Superintendent Richard D'Agostino

Salary: $169,371

Longevity Pay: $2,480

District Profile

Student Body Size: 9,487

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $162,729,013

Prev Next

1. Providence

Superintendent Susan Lusi

Salary: $190,000

District Profile

Student Body Size: 22,432

Annual Budget (FY 2012): $364,621,277

 
 

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