Over crowding in Providence public schools is forcing the school board to kick around a drastic plan: close a high school, move those students all over the city, and then ship younger
students off to what would be a new middle school.
The last time school closures made
headlines in Providence was in 2011. Four low–performing elementary schools were closed to save
money and balance the budget. Now, the school board is considering closing Alvarez High School, because it also low performing, and it needs room for a growing
middle school population.
An audience made up of students, parents, teachers, and city
leaders who are strongly against
closing Alvarez high school, packed into Tuesdays school board meeting.
"There is no option in my mind that's acceptable to
close Alvarez high school," said City Councilman Bryan Principe.
The school board is saying new data shows an unexpected increase
in middle school students for next year. Which is a problem, because there is not enough room for
those students as things stand now. So, the board is considering closing the low–performing Alvarez High School and making into a middle school.
"We've gone through this process in the past of closing schools and then soon after
recognizing there's a need to accommodate more students,"said Councilman Principe.
Alvarez is home to around 500 students. If it's converted to a middle school, the high schoolers
would be moved throughout other high schools in the city.
Jean Link's two girls have already been affected by past
school closures in Providence. Her daughter Alizae, moved in her elementary and middle
school years. She's now a freshman at Alvarez.
"Hearing that it was going to be shut down, it like
hurt me because I knew I was going to be placed into a school that was
overcrowded,"explained Alizae Links.
Link has been at every school board meeting since the first
closures two years ago hoping to prevent the stress of switching schools once
again for her children.
"I have to do the smiling, you know its going to be ok,
when I'm probably just as scared as they are," said Link.
In the time we were there, no school board member spoke out
publicly for the closure. Other options were brought up at Tuesday's meeting
which would include phasing middle schoolers into Alvarez.
A decision on the closure is expected at the boards next
meeting in a couple of weeks.