September 21, 2014
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Five schools get all-day K this year

When it comes to school population, declining enrollment is often considered a negative term. It could mean families are leaving the district, and usually consolidation isn’t far behind, another term parents, teachers, and students would rather not think about.

However, there can also be benefits to declining enrollment, as Superintendent Richard D’Agostino points out with the addition of five elementary schools implementing all-day Kindergarten programs this school year.

Morning and afternoon bus runs associated with half-day Kindergarten sessions have been eliminated at Warwick Neck, Oakland Beach, John Brown Francis, Robertson and Scott elementary schools, as each will be rolling out an all-day kindergarten program.

D’Agostino said the addition of the five elementary school programs brings the total number of all-day kindergarten programs to seven or eight throughout the district.

“Originally, we had it at Oakland Beach, Drum Rock and John Wickes; they were special education-driven,” he said. “Now we will have seven or eight general all-day K programs that cater to special education students as well as typical peers,” which he described as general education students with the skills for the kindergarten curriculum.

Utilizing existing funds and staff in the budget, D’Agostino said the five additional programs are made possible due to declining enrollment.

“We’ve been monitoring the numbers all summer long,” he said. “We looked at it and determined it’s feasible, the numbers are there.”

D’Agostino said there aren’t enough students to hold both morning and afternoon kindergarten sessions.

“We had a choice of only having one teacher for a half-day session and laying off or re-assigning the second teacher to another building, but we thought it would be better to keep the teacher and offer the benefit to our students,” he said.

D’Agostino said moving from a half-day program to an all-day program is a big change.

“Kindergarten teachers were required to provide all [necessary] instruction and readiness in a two-and-a-half-hour session, and now they will have the entire day, which will allow them to go into more depth in areas such as reading readiness, math readiness and social integration,” he said. “This is really good for the kids. It’s difficult to fit all you need to do [as a teacher] in half a day, especially with Common Core.”

When asked how long he expects it would be before all-day K is available at each elementary school in the district, D’Agostino said the department is “going with the flow of things.”

“We’re trying to be as efficient as possible to meet the needs of all students,” he said. “We’re trying to meet the needs of the 21st century. We want to do more, but we need funds and hopefully people understand that.”

D’Agostino put the cost at $3 million “to do it right” and have a teacher and teaching assistant for all-day K in all 16 elementary schools.

“If we had consolidated, we could have all-day K at all the schools,” he said. “We’re fortunate to do this because the numbers are low.”

D’Agostino said the all-day kindergarten programs are open only to those students that attend the schools where the programs are hosted. He said lotteries are held at the Drum Rock Early Childhood Center and John Wickes for students with IEPs (Individualized Education Program) and typical peers.


Comments
6 comments on this item

If Warwick were to include in its consolidation study its presently undergoing at the secondary & middle/junior high school levels, it appears that by REDUCING/consolidating the number of physical school buildings at ALL levels, it would be more likely to provide all day kindergarten at each elementary school in the district. The cost savings from the reduction of physical locations couid/would possibly allow for this.

I agree with Does anyone else find it troubling that only (approximately) half of the Kindergarten age students, in this City, will be having a distinct learning advantage over their counterparts from the other half of the City? I realize the schools are in different areas of the City, and not clustered in one spot. I thought Warwick Public Schools is funded by the Taxpayers of the City, through Local, State, and Federal funds (which come out of the Taxpayers wallets), and therefore, is obligated to provide free (I use the term loosely), and equal access to basic education for ALL of it's school age residents? So tell me, how does this attract new families to the City of Warwick? I know this is an unpopular view with many of the folks who comment here, but consolidation should have happened, and STILL should happen.

Consolidation does NOT have to happen. Why not look into a middle school model without school consolidation? Why not look at 6th graders moving up with 7th and 8th grade students now? 6th graders moving out of elementary schools and up to the middle schools would create larger enrollment in the junior high schools, at the same time moving 6th graders out would leave enough room to implement all day K at elementary schools. Instead this foolish, unqualified, joke of a superintendent would rather close a high school and a junior high, only to then try and implement the middle school model. When will people wake up and realize that this man has overstayed his welcome by YEARS. He was an interim hire at a time of a phony crisis manufactured by the school committee (Peter Horoschak's firing). We were told he knew the district best and he knew where change was needed. He made changes...eliminating ALAP, letting go of a full-time librarian at the junior high level, a consolidation plan of 2 junior high schools that was rejected, a plan to close a high school and middle school that was rejected. The only other profession I know of where you can be WRONG this much and pay no price for it is being a weather man. The time has come for D'Agostino to step down...I just hope Warwick taxpayers are smart enough to realize it.

Well said and accurate Seal 1024. And what about the state of Special Education in the district - great teachers and staff but lost leadership? He lost four very good administrators who could not work with him and, thus, left. He did not replace them and tried to be both a mediocre superintendent and a special education director who never had any experience in special education. Go figure!

Dear Scal1024,

Regarding your comment "phony crisis manufactured by the school committee (Peter Horoschak's firing)". I was on the school committee at the time. The former superintendent had a contract that was up for renewal. The school committee chose not to renew his contract. I did not vote to renew his contract in 2010 because I thought we could find someone better. I also did not vote to renew his contract in 2012. After the school committee chose not to renew the contract a situation occurred that forced the school committee to put him on leave. While on leave it became apparent that he would not be returning and an interim needed to be chosen and quickly. A school department is required to have a superintendent. We had less than 5 people on staff with the required superintendent certificate. Dr D'Agostino accepted the position is interim superintendent and received a SMALL stipend to handle all his regular duties as Director od Special Education and the Superintendent duties. I was not re-elected to the school committee in 2012 so I was not involved with his renewal and acceptance as the Full time Superintendent. I would have opened the position up to look a superintendent with a nation-wide search. For the short time I worked with him he did a good job handling the schools. I disagree with several decisions including cancelling ALAP and the librarian.

I just wanted to clarify the situation with the former superintendent.

Good clarification - and you were one of the quality school committee members who was sensitive and realistic toward the needs of the schools and children. As a parent, however, you must see how uninvolved D'Agostino is and unresponsive to parents, fellow administrators and staff. He will never get involved in "difficult" situations but leaves others to try to figure out issues with no help or support from him. I find it hard to understand how the present school committee does not realize his many short comings and lack of any leadership qualities. But he does save money on the backs of the students and schools.

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