With regard to the ongoing School Building project, many if not most community members don’t fully understand how we arrived where we are today. In 2016, the $38M elementary building plan involved renovating Bradford, Dunn’s Corners and Springbrook Schools. At that time we had excess building capacity which would have allowed us to move staff and students among buildings that were not under renovation. The “We Can Do Better” group actively campaigned against this plan and helped to narrowly defeat it. Two months later, in January 2017, the newly seated School Committee closed Bradford School. As part of the 2019 proposal, all four options presented by the Building Subcommittee to the School Committee and public included a new build. The final plan, at $74M, included a new upper elementary (grades 3-5) school on the State Street site and renovations to other buildings in the district. A group, “People for Responsible Planning,” formed in opposition. On October 10, 2019, this referendum was also narrowly defeated.
The current Building Subcommittee and School Committee realize that scenarios that do not include a new build are also warranted. All viable options will be examined using defined criteria endorsed by the School Committee. After delays due to COVID, this task is now imminent.
If elected, our team will work to gain unanimous support within the School Committee and Town Council for the selected project. We realize that, without that unanimity, it is unlikely that the project will garner enough support to be approved at the polls. At this point it is absolutely critical that we bring forth a plan that will be successfully executed for the benefit of all students of Westerly Public Schools. Our children deserve schools that are 21st century ready with state of the art technology. As part of the School Committee, we will redefine and redesign schools for 21st century learning. With this in mind, please support the Democratic Team for the Westerly School Committee. We will bring the third and final phase of the Vision 2020 Project to fruition and implement a plan that is responsive to students’ needs and financially sound for the community.
Diane Chiaradio Bowdy, Rob Cillino, Giuseppe Gencarelli, Michael Ober
The writers are Democratic candidates for the Westerly School Committee.