WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Students who attend Warwick Public Schools will no longer have sports or clubs come fall, according to the Warwick Superintendent Philip Thornton.
The news comes after the Warwick School Committee approved a list of recommended cuts, which includes athletics, after-school programs and new textbooks. Those cuts will make up for an $8 million deficit in the city’s budget.
“We had to cut textbooks, teacher training, teacher assistants… all things we need desperately,” Thornton said.
The announcement is not sitting well students and parents who attended Tuesday night’s meeting, with some students bursting into tears at the news.
“Thanks for ruining my senior year, and possibly my future,” one student testified.
Video Now: Warwick students react to announced cuts
“It hurts my heart so much, I’m just crying,” another student said. “On behalf of everybody here, you’ve ruined our schools.”
Cassie Cirella, whose sister Gianna died last year of sepsis, also spoke up about what her school’s soccer team means to her.
“Pilgrim and Toll Gate were brought together to support each other and I was shown more support from them then I will ever see in my life,” Cassie said. “Other teams from all over Rhode Island have messaged my family, and sent us things, and held games for my sister. Without sports, I don’t think I would have made it through the hardest year of my life.”
The entire school committee made it clear at Tuesday’s meeting that they did not want to make the cuts, but had to balance the budget by law.
Vice Chair of the Warwick School Committee Judy Cobden said she is just as upset about the cuts as the students are but added that because of their budget constraints, they have no choice.
“I’m heartbroken, this is just horrible,” she said. “But we have to protect our kids’ education and that’s what I have to explain to these kids. Even if we’re giving money, they’ll say, ‘Oh, we will use it for sports because that’s the good political move.’ We can’t use it for that when we’re cutting teacher’s assistants and things like that.”
Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon tells Eyewitness News the school committee informed him that they plan on suing the city over the budget. He said he had hoped the school department and city would create a solution during mediation.
Solomon reiterated that he hopes to find a way to keep sports and clubs.