WOONSOCKET — School Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan is working on a sweeping restructuring of local elementary schools and the middle school that could restore all-day kindergarten at the early elementary level and also move fifth graders to the middle school.
Donoyan has presented an overview of the possible changes to city leaders and state legislators and is in the process of meeting with the school staff to obtain their reactions to the proposal.
Although confirming the changes are under consideration, Donoyan said she will likely present the full proposal publicly after students return from next week's spring vacation.
“We are trying to bring back full-day kindergarten and it is going to include changes at the elementary level,” Donoyan said of the plan after the school committee concluded its meeting in the Hamlet middle school building.
“We might close Fifth Avenue and we would also have to realign some classrooms,” she said.
The School Committee approved returning the old Social Street Elementary School building to the city Wednesday night, a building that has not been used as a full-time school for three-years, and may also move in the near future to take similar action to turn over the Second Avenue school in Fairmount, according to Donoyan. That building has not hosted classrooms since last year and is currently being used for school department storage.
Fifth Avenue is currently used with the Coleman Elementary School to meet the elementary level needs of the Fairmount neighborhood.
Donoyan could not say for certain on Wednesday if that school would also be released from school department use and offered that her complex proposals are “only a concept at this point.”
Major points of that plan were presented to the city's General Assembly delegation during a meeting earlier in the day and School Committeeman Christopher Roberts, who also attended, said the reaction appeared to be a positive one.
“We need to try to do things in a different way,” he said of the proposals. Roberts said there is also an effort being made to win the school department some additional funding specifically for the all-day kindergarten program but that funding has not yet been confirmed.
The school department may have to move ahead with an all-day kindergarten plan of its own, which includes the shifts of elementary classrooms into the middle school, before the state financial assistance is finalized, he suggested.
“We are doing everything we possibly can at this point,” he said.
Donoyan said her plan, which has also received some early support from local teachers and administrators, is still being worked out but ultimately will seek to gain savings through better efficiency through the re-structuring of the elementary and middle school classes while retaining best educational practices.
“I will be meeting with the principals tomorrow and every time I go out on this there are additional questions,” she said. Donoyan said she is taking the responses under consideration and will be making modifications to the plan as needed.
“We are trying to be as cost effective as we can and but we want to escalate the level of education at the same time,” she said.