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Friday, February 26, 2010

Narducci Continues Drive for Neighborhood Schools

Says Keeping Windmill Elementary Open is Step in the Right Direction 

Councilman Nicholas J. Narducci, Jr., Ward 4, a long-time advocate of neighborhood-based public schools, expressed gratitude that the Windmill Elementary School closure, recommended in a report to the Council last month, is being delayed. He also praised the collaborative effort and compromise among public officials, residents, and parents.

“Superintendent Tom Brady listened to our neighborhood’s concerns, he heard parents’ concerns, and he remained open-minded throughout the public forum process,” Narducci said. “It was refreshing to know that my constituents’ opinions were valued, and were factored into the school department’s ultimate decision.” Narducci noted that the school board members also demonstrated a “sensitivity and understanding” regarding the impact of closing Windmill. 

The councilman explained that one of the underlying weaknesses of the School Facilities Master Plan, which recommended multiple school closings, is that “the plan does not address the need for neighborhood schools, and ignores the fact that millions of dollars could be saved in busing costs if students were able to walk to school.” Neighborhood schools are popular with community members, parents, and Council members, Narducci said, but students in many parts of the city travel far outside their neighborhoods to attend schools. 

“Closing schools, and leaving some neighborhoods without any schools, will exacerbate this problem,” said Narducci. “Keeping our neighborhood schools open means better parental involvement—parents can get to their child’s school easily—and it means students from the same neighborhood go to the same school, bolstering community connections, and they can walk to school, which is healthier for them, as well as the City budget.”

Councilman Narducci said he is eager to work with the task force that the superintendent is establishing to study the feasibility of neighborhood schools in Providence.