WSPEC: Final thoughts before School Board votes TONIGHT

The below notice comes from the West Side Public Education Coalition (WSPEC), a hardworking and dedicated group of neighbors who have been working for our neighborhood children and their public elementary and middle schools. For the sake of the future health of our neighborhood, please come out tonight to the School Board Hearing vote on the proposed neighborhood school closings.  For more information, visit WSPEC’s web site at

Thank you.  Kari, WBNA

The time for the School Board to vote on the proposed school closures has arrived.

When & Where:

Thursday, April 28 at 6:30pm
PCTA High School
41 Fricker Street

A Few Final Thoughts:

We know it has been a while since our last update. We have all be working at full capacity over the last couple of weeks: parsing through mountains of data; writing press releases; speaking at School Board hearings; and meeting with parents, students, teachers, politicians and School Board members. Ultimately, after all of the hard work and on the verge of the vote, we find ourselves continually returning to a simple question:

Do the recommended closures best serve students, in both the short-term and the long-term?

For the short-term, the answer has to be a resounding NO. Decades of data shows that school transitions, such as those precipitated by the proposed closings, correspond with a measurable drop in student academic achievement, loss of self-esteem, and increase in drop-out rates.  Studies consistently conclude that these negative effects are particularly acute for African American, Hispanic, and low socio-economic status students. Since most of the schools proposed for closure fit into that demographic, this plan targets the most vulnerable population of our city and thereby puts them at the highest risk of failure.

In terms of long-term impact on students, the answer is unclear at best.  In fact, the proposed closings appear to be focused entirely on a short-term, quick fix to the financial crisis instead of being a comprehensive, well thought out proposal that addresses financial concerns while also improving our struggling schools over the years ahead. What evidence do we have that the proposal does not consider the long-term? Consider how questions and concerns from the community, the School Board, and the City Council have been addressed. As recent as last Thursday, answers to questions posed by the School Board and the City Council were posted on the PPSD website.  Let us be clear on that last point: the School Board has been given less than a week to review answers to 72 questions and an additional 11 attached documents which provide background rationale and implementation details for the proposed school closings. The fact that this data was provided in such a last minute fashion suggests that it was generated “after-the-fact”.  It appears that the data was not used to formulate the proposal.  Rather, the data was gathered retroactively, in response to unrelenting pressure from the community, the School Board and the City Council.  In fact, several of the questions are still marked "TBD" and Carlton Jones (the PPSD Chief Operating Officer) indicated that they may be answered as late as the afternoon of the vote.  How can anybody assert that this proposal takes a long-term view when it was clearly put together in such haste? Furthermore, nowhere in those 72 answers and 11 documents are there details about how the school closures are part of a long-term vision for improving Providence’s public schools.

To answer our own question: the recommended closures DO NOT best serve students, neither in the short-term nor the long-term.

WSPEC firmly believes that, given the appropriate amount of time to research and evaluate the state of our schools (recommended 12-18 months), a more responsible, fiscally sound, and educationally effective solution could be found.  Furthermore, we believe that a process of genuine community engagement - in collaboration with the Providence Public School District and the City - will ensure the long term viability of those solutions due to the very nature of stakeholder involvement.

We call on the School Board to vote NO to school closings. Please give us all the opportunity to work together, in the coming months and years, to turn the Providence public school system into a shining example of effective urban education.

The School Board will be hearing public comments before the vote. If you have something to say on this important matter, show up, sign up on the list, and get your voice heard!

Interesting in digging a bit deeper? Check out these links:



Meet with the Mayor at the WBNA on May 3 at 7pm

West Side Neighbors and Businesses,

Mayor Taveras is coming to our neighborhood!  Please RSVP your attendance to this event that will give you an opportunity to talk directly with the Mayor on issues that matter to you.  In preparation for the meeting, we are compiling a list of suggestions on how the city could save money.  PLEASE email your RSVP and your suggestion for saving Providence money to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you!  (and PLEASE spread the word to neighbors about the opportunity to meet with the Mayor)

Kari, WBNA

 Fiscal Honesty Tour – West Side Community Forum

Mayor Angel Taveras will hold a community forum


Tuesday May 3, 2011

7:00 p.m.

at the West Broadway Neighborhood Association

1560 Westminster Street


The forum will focus on Providence's fiscal emergency and the steps being taken to get the city back on solid financial footing.


Director of Administration Michael D'Amico will give a detailed presentation on the city’s finances, and Mayor Taveras will answer community members’ questions.


Please attend to learn how you can help build a Stronger Providence.

WBNA Enews -- April 21, 2011

WBNA E-News April 21, 2011

Fertile Underground – The WBNA wishes extend a big Thank you to everyone who showed their support to help Fertile Underground exceed the fund raising goal.  Fertile Underground ( ) was looking to raise $8,800.00 and at the time of this notice had raised over $12,335.00.  To learn more about this fund raising effort and watch a brief video visit


SWELL Soiree – YOU ARE INVITED to Celebrate the Grand Opening of 1577 Westminster Street on Friday, May 6th from 5:00-9:00 PM(across from the WBNA).  TOUR 1577 Westminster Street, the future home of Fertile Underground Grocery and SpurwinkRI’s supportive housing apartments.  FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.  DANCE to music by the Extraordinary Rendition Band and tunes by DJ JR (from The Avery).  SNACK on fare by Mosaic Latin American Bistro.  BID on local artwork.  RAFFLE of Gift cards from West Side businesses  Hosted by the WBNA and SpurwinkRI. Event Sponsor:  Leadership Rhode Island  In-kind donations: The Avery/Elevated Spirits/McLaughlin & Moran  Please visit for more details on this fun event.



THANK YOU to everyone who came together on April 16th for our Annual Spring clean-up. The clean up was a big success.  Special thanks to the Street Captains for their efforts.  Thank you to  WBNA Board Members, Equal Exchange Coffee, Hudson Street Deli, Providence DPW and Becky Kessler, Providence Neighborhood Planting Program, and everyone who  donated food & beverages  before the clean up and then for the “appreciation BBQ” after the clean up.   Thank Jane & Steve Bodnar for cooking at the BBQ, and the Kurt Bodnar for organizing this effort.  Once again Thank you to everyone who participated for helping keep our neighborhood clean.



Crime Watch Meeting: Tuesday April 26th at 6:30pm at the WBNA-HQ at 1560 Westminster Street.


PPS 2010 Historic Preservation Awards – April 28 at 1 Sims Avenue Providence at 5:15PM.  The WBNA and SpurwinkRI will be receiving a neighborhood revitalization award for “1577 Westminster streetFor more details visit

Living History is bringing a Full-Scale Civil War Camp to the Dexter Training Ground on Tuesday, May 3 from 8am-1pm.  Activities include:  musket firing demonstrations, Civil War baseball, marching and drilling and an authentic Civil War lunch.  For more information


Fiscal Honesty Tour (West Side Community Forum )- Mayor Angel Taveras will hold a community forum  Tuesday May 3, 2011 7:00 p.m. at the West Broadway Neighborhood Association  1560 Westminster Street The forum will focus on Providence's fiscal emergency and the steps being taken to get the city back on solid financial footing.  Director of Administration Michael D'Amico will give a detailed presentation on the city’s finances, and Mayor Taveras will answer community members’ questions. Please attend to learn how you can help build a Stronger Providence


WBNA Friends of Dexter Training Ground meeting: Tuesday, May 10, 2011, Neighbors interested in serving on this committee please come out and help organize this committee.  Our park and playground needs your energy and talent so children and adults have a great park to enjoy!


Neighborhood Yard Sale: May 21: 8:30am -1:00pm, mark your calendar for this WBNA Annual Neighborhood Wide Yard Sale. For details, please more details visit

Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to get on the map!!


Watch for more details on “ANNUAL NEIGHBORHOOD BLOCK PARY” on Saturday June 25th from 2:00pm – 8:00pm and then “WEST SIDE THURSDAYS” happening during the month of July at Dexter Training ground.

May 3rd - Diane Ravitch's visit to RI on Tuesday, May 3. She is speaking at 4:15p at Gaige Hall, Rhode Island College This event comes highly recommended.  Diane embodies a voice that opposes much of what is happening in the current national school reform agenda. She is extremely articulate about some very big picture issues.

“This old house”: This Old House is searching for a project for the 2011-2012 season. The project should be an addition and/or renovation to a pre-1950s home in the state of Rhode Island. An ideal project should be close to having a final design/construction documents, and should be ready to break ground in early June. We are considering all housing types, styles, and neighborhoods.  TOH TV is Looking for a Project in Rhode Island:,,20441790,00.html?xid=hinewsletter-110412-rhode-island


** Neighborhood Construction News: **

Good news!!!! Work has finally begun on the Westminster Street Decorative Lighting project spearheaded by the WBNA and on the Broadway repaving project!!!


Construction started in April 2011 on the Streetscape Enhancements to Westminster Street & Olneyville Square and will continue through December 1.  Work will restart in Spring 2012 for completion in late July 2012. The contractor for this work is Arden Engineering Constructors. Construction will occur typically from Monday through Friday, 7 AM to 3 PM. The project limits are Westminster St. (Manton Ave. to Service Rd.), Manton Ave.(Westminster St. to Delaine St.), Hartford Ave. (Manton Ave. to Atwood St.), Atwood St., Plainfield St. (Atwood St. to Westminster St.).


The WBNA has a copy of the Westminster Street plans if anyone would like to review them.




Two days left to support the Fertile Underground Grocery at 1577 Westminster St!

Here's your chance to help bring a LOCALLY-OWNED GROCERY to the West Side.

Fertile Underground will be opening a store in the new building at 1577 Westminster St and they are asking for OUR HELP through Kickstarter. To date, they have raised over $7,700 of the $8,800 they need to get the doors open.

Pledge now before it's too late. Fertile Underground needs to raise $1,100 in the next TWO DAYS.

Support Fertile Underground through Kickstarter:


Group warns of inconsistencies, sparse data on school closures

West Side Public Education Coalition, 107 Messer Street, Suite 3B, Providence, RI 02909
Group warns of inconsistencies, sparse data on closures
At last hour community still asking for detailed information, transparency on school closures

Providence, Rhode Island – April 15, 2011 – Community members shared many concerns over the past few weeks about the proposed closing of six Providence schools. But their message to the School Board in its final week of hearings was crystal clear: alarming inconsistencies in data and a persistent lack of detail about the projected cost savings of closing these schools should put consciences on high alert and stop an affirmative vote on April 25.
The West Side Public Education Coalition, a grassroots community group on Providence's west side that advocates for high performing neighborhood schools in high quality facilities, expressed strong concerns about the sparseness of information afforded to School Board and community members, the accuracy of cost savings projections, and adherence to the Providence Public School Department’s own defined process for community engagement.
“We have not yet seen a detailed account of how the City will save money from these school closures,” said Michael Udris, WSPEC member and father of three preschoolers. “The projected cost savings we have repeatedly heard from the City are very different from those shown in studies commissioned by the school department as recently as last year. This is particularly concerning because the entire basis of these closures is purported cost savings. The impact of school closings on children is profound. It’s unconscionable to make a decision without the right data.”
WSPEC cites the 2010 Fanning-Howey Report, a facilities master plan commissioned by the Providence Public School Department, as one source of conflicting data to the City’s stated projected savings. This facilities study indicates that closing seven facilities last year would yield $2.3 million in savings, whereas the city and school department claim that closing fewer schools this year would save more, a total of $4 million.
The group additionally points to recent assessments indicating that the 2010 closures of Feinstein High and Perry Middle Schools, which Providence School officials estimated would save over $20 million over five years, have generated only $300,000 in actual savings thus far, nearly a year after closing. The numbers, WSPEC argues, do not add up.
Beyond numbers, community members are also concerned about the school department’s follow-through with its own stated process for community engagement. After stating it would provide answers to the entire community’s questions on its website, the school department has posted answers only to questions distributed widely by WSPEC.
WSPEC received partial answers last Tuesday to a comprehensive list of questions that it provided to Mayor Taveras and to the school department several weeks ago. The answers do not provide the level of detail the group seeks, and reflect much of the limited information already provided in the school department’s slideshow presentation on school closures. The group has sent a request for more detailed responses.
“In the few short weeks we’ve had to make sense of the City’s proposal to close schools, we have become gravely concerned about accuracy, transparency and due diligence regarding process,” said Judi Jeroslow, WSPEC member and parent of two preschoolers. “In the interest of protecting our city’s schools and children, we are doing our best to make our research widely available to school board and community members.”
The group is preparing a formal document detailing its findings about the school closure and reconfiguration process. This Monday WSPEC plans to distribute the gathered information to the School Board, community members, and the Mayor’s Office. In an effort to inform those most affected, the document will be posted on the group’s website,, and distributed in-person to community members. A Spanish version will also be available.
The Providence School Board held its last hearings this past week on the proposed closures of Asa Messer Elementary, Messer Annex, Bridgham Middle, West Broadway Elementary, Flynn Elementary, and Windmill Elementary Schools. The vote on all proposed closures will take place on April 25 at the PCTA at 91 Fricker St, Providence, at 6:30 p.m.
The West Side Public Education Coalition is dedicated to ensuring high quality public education opportunities for all students on the west side of Providence regardless of background, economic class, race, or ethnicity. Through an unprecedented collaboration between families, educators, students, community residents, local businesses, and public officials, we advocate for outstanding public schools, effective education policies, and 21st century learning environments. We believe that a commitment to fostering high achieving, innovative, neighborhood schools will guarantee the health and vitality of our community.
– 30 –
Join the WBNA!

The WBNA organizes neighbors and businesses on the West Side of Providence to preserve and promote our diverse, historic, urban community as a safe, vibrant, and sustainable place to live, work, and play.

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with neighborhood news and events.

WBNA Business Hours
Mon – Thurs: 8:30 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Closed Friday, Saturday, Sunday
(P): 401.831.9344
(F): 401.831.0388