The largely vacant Davisville Elementary School may have a future in North Kingstown’s school department – but not as a school. School Superintendent Phil Auger presented a proposal Tuesday night to the School Committee for a new configuration of buildings that would turn the former elementary school into the district’s administration building. According to Auger, the reconfiguration could help the district make better use of some of its buildings and may even result in long-term savings.
Auger proposed that the school district’s central administration office, currently located at 100 Fairway Drive next to the high school, be relocated to Davisville Elementary School (DES), which was closed down in 2010 due to declining enrollment and budget cuts. Due to the building’s size, other like departments could be housed there as well – including food service, LINKS (Laymen in North Kingstown Schools), the wellness task force office, finance department, pupil personnel and others. Auger suggested that the building ‘s room could be used for conference areas and possibly even school committee meetings.
For the current central administration building, Auger suggested that the department take advantage of its proximity to the high school and nearby Wickford Middle School and convert it into an alternative learning center. The building would house the district’s in-school suspension programs (currently in the former D Building on the high school campus) and special education programs. Expanding North Kingstown special education programs would help keep more students in the district and possibly save the school department money in the long run, Auger said.
“Myself, like most parents of children with disabilities, look for the least restrictive environment for them,” said School Committee Member Larry Ceresi. “For me, that has always been offering education for students in district when possible.”
With the in-house suspension programs moved to the central administration building, district departments such as technology, maintenance, plants and grounds, custodial and other like departments would be consolidated into the D Building under Auger’s proposal.
“Under this plan, similar programs are with one another, there’s more appropriate use of all spaces and we could have major savings through in-house special education,” said Auger.
The logistics and costs of converting/equipping the buildings could prove costly and problematic, according to Auger. Additionally, the issue of full-day kindergarten could also throw a wrench into the system. If North Kingstown starts to offer full-day kindergarten (which is currently available in 18 school districts across the state), Davisville Elementary School may be once again needed to serve as a school. Currently in North Kingstown, only Suzanne M. Henseler Quidnessett Elementary School offers full-day kindergarten.
Auger is requesting $18,000 or less for architectural designs and cost analysis for the reconfiguration and conversion of the buildings. He said he hopes to have a cost analysis and budgetary impact to present to the committee in January.
Earlier this year, plans for The Greene School – a local charter school – to move into Davisville Elementary School fell through after lawyers did not approve the lease agreement.