Hope High School will undergo significant restructuring in the coming months, a representative from the Providence Public Schools Department said this week.
Since 2005, Hope has been divided into three learning "communities" - Arts, Leadership and Information Technology. But at the end of this school year, the Leadership wing will close, and its students and faculty will merge into the other two communities, said Christina O'Reilly, a spokeswoman for the department.
The division, and other 2005 changes, resulted from a state-mandated Consolidated Corrective Action Plan aimed at ending Hope's history of unusually poor test scores. Test scores have improved since, and O'Reilly said the impending closing of the Leadership community would not hinder the school's overall progress.
"The size of the student body in total isn't going to increase," she said, adding that the plan primarily involves the consolidation of "top level" administration.
The current model calls for three principals, one for each learning community. Next year, just two principals will lead the school. Scott Sutherland will continue as principal of Hope Arts and Arthur Petrosinelli will remain at the helm of Hope Info Tech.
O'Reilly said the plan to close Hope Leadership was crafted by Sutherland and Petrosinelli after Leadership Principal Wayne Montague retired earlier this year.
Since then, Sutherland and Petrosinelli have been running the Leadership community together, O'Reilly said.
Neither Sutherland nor Petrosinelli could be reached for comment.
Though Arts and Info Tech have "very specific" course tracks associated with them, the principals recognized that the Leadership program teaches skills that the school department "would hope to impart" to all of Hope's students, O'Reilly said.
The skills could be absorbed or incorporated "across the board," she said, adding that one of Leadership's main programs, the junior ROTC, will continue in the two remaining communities.
The principals' suggestions were well received by the school department, O'Reilly said, because the two "know the dynamics" of Hope. "They know what works in the building," she said, adding that they will not compromise the school's culture of individualized attention.
"It's safe to say that the interaction that a student gets day-to-day with teachers in the building will be very much the same," she said.
Since learning about next year's changes, Leadership students have begun a "choice process" through which they can matriculate to either the Arts or Info Tech communities, O'Reilly said. If neither of the programs appeals to them, students can bid into another high school.
But students are generally more attached to the building than their individual community, O'Reilly said, and most are choosing to stay at Hope.
All Leadership teachers will likewise be given the opportunity to remain at Hope.
John Day, president of Hope's Parent Teacher Organization and the parent of a Hope Arts student, said he is glad that few changes will take place at Hope Arts.
"It doesn't sound like courses are going to be stopped," he said. "All the programs and the classes are still going to be offered."
"They just won't have the identity of being Hope Leadership," he added.