The Woonsocket Budget Commisson heard from two employees of Fifth Avenue School on its closing Thursday, one complimentary and one critical, neither of whom have been offered jobs this year.
During the public comment portion of the agenda, Fifth Avenue paraprofessional teacher Mike Davis told the Commission that closing the school and sending students to the other city schools was the "best thing we could have done for these children." Globe Park and Harris Schools, he said, are more up to date, including computer labs and "computers that actually work".
Davis mentioned, however, that he still didn't know if he had a job at one of the city's other schools. "Could we please get an update on the paraprofessionals..." he asked, adding, "I'm still confused as to whether I have a position."
Estelle Bubble, a lunch aid at Fifth Avenue School, told the Commission, "I understand closing Fifth Avenue School was to save money, but on the other hand, two weeks before school was not a good thing to do. If in June, fine, but not two weeks before school."
She said the short notice has left teachers not knowing where they're going, and "things are all over the place." Also, she said, in her opinion, Fifth Avenue was a strong school. Bubble said she knows she's out of a job now, and isn't sure what she'll be doing for work next. "I don't know where I'm going," she said.
The Commission also heard from Dennis Deslauriers, who questioned their decision to approve a curriculum director, budgeted at about $100,000, for the Woonsocket School Department. Carolyn Dias, RIDE's chief of fiscal integrity and efficiencies, advocated for the move to supervise teachers as they adjust to new Common Core Curriculum standards RIDE has set a 2014 deadline to meet.
"Teachers are fully aware of their curriculum," Deslauriers said, and the money could be better applied to school supplies like textbooks.
Woonsocket Schools Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan gave the Commisssion a brief update on the closing of Fifth Avenue School. She said letters had been sent to the parents and guardians of the affected students, teachers are packing up their rooms, and a few bus route changes are being finalized. She said only those Fifth Avenue students being sent to "Fairmount" () and will ride a bus to classes, since they would have to cross train tracks if they were to walk.