Budget Board Shutters Oldham School
The East Providence Budget Commission signs off on the plan to close Oldham Elementary School and move all of its students and staff to Meadowcrest.
The shutters were closed on Oldham Elementary School in Riverside on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 31.
The East Providence Budget Commission approved the recommendation by Interim Superintendent John DeGoes and the East Providence School Committee to close the school at the end of this year.
The budget board left the implementation of the closure plan and the costs that will be incurred up to the administration to address at future budget commission meetings.
“There will be a financial impact,” said Diane Brennan, chair of the budget commission. “I’m looking to the administration to come back to us."
The city’s smallest elementary school is being closed almost entirely for financial reasons – it needs more than $2.1 million in health and safety repairs before it could have opened next fall. And those repairs were not going to pass muster with the RI Department of Education, said Brennan.
All of the pupils and staff at Oldham will be moved as one to the Meadowcrest School, which will result in the school’s federal Title I status being retained, said DeGoes. The Meadowcrest pupils, many in special education, in turn, will be moved as one unit to a wing in the Waddington Elementary School.
“The special education program at Meadowcrest can continue to work,” said DeGoes. “I think we can replicate it in an entire wing on the first floor.”
Before the budget commission voted, School Committee member Timothy Conley repeated his concern about the “process” used to inform the Meadowcrest parents about the transfer of their children to Waddington under the closure plan.
“Oldham parents had an opportunity to respond at a public hearing,” Conley said. “That was not done for Meadowcrest parents.”
The superintendent’s initial plan for closing Oldham actually had all but the kindergarten pupils moving as one to Waddington, which would have swelled the student population to approximately 600 pupils.
Under criticism primarily from parents for closing the school, he took another look at his initial plan and decided moving the Oldham kids to Meadowcrest and moving those children to Waddington was a better scenario.
The School Committee agreed on Tuesday night when it voted 3-0 with 2 abstentions to endorse the plan for the budget commission. That pretty much sealed the deal for the budget commissioners. Their support for the closure plan was unanimous.