Bradford elementary school in Westerly avoided closure for the second time in two years as budget talks resumed last week.
Bradford elementary currently has 147, K-4th grade students. It is reported the percentage of low-income and special education students is a high percentage. The school also houses an inclusion preschool, which includes 50% special education students and 50% tuition-based students.
Two years ago, Bradford School was on the list of schools the district considered closing. Last week Bradford school was again targeted for potential closure,but this time it was the only school targeted.
This year, as was the case in 2010, a large number of Bradford residents and school staff vocally opposed the closing of the school. William Aiello, a Bradford lunch aide and substitute teacher, spoke against closing Bradford school. He stated that the school is excellent for special needs students because it is one level. He also expressed that the school's existence bolsters the town economically.
The fate of Bradford school was put to a vote on Wednesday at the school committee meeting. The vote was close with 4 in favor of keeping Bradford school open and 3 in favor of closing the school. This resulted in the vote on the budget being delayed and a 48-hour extension being requested in order to prepare a budget the school committee can vote on.
With the closure of Bradford School off the table, the committee members voted to give the superintendent a cap on a second proposed budget.
School Committee Chair, David Patten, expressed that it is very possible the elementary schools will be redefined and reconfigured. What exactly that will look like is not yet apparent. One thing is for sure, the budget just became tighter for the district. How that will affect the 900 elementary students in the district is yet to be seen.