Fulfilling a key element of Governor Gina M. Raimondo's plan for jumpstarting the economy and supporting schools, the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education this evening (Tuesday, October 20) unanimously approved funding to kick off school-renovation projects that will spur the Rhode Island economy and ensure the health and safety to schoolchildren.
"These projects will put people to work, and provide safer, healthier, better learning environments for about 30,000 students and their teachers," said Governor Raimondo. "In addition, these projects all are 'shovel-ready' and can get under way immediately. They will create jobs in the construction industry, which will benefit Rhode Island families and will advance our economy. Let's get shovels in the ground and repair our schools!"
The funding for these projects comes from the capital fund of the School Building Authority, which Governor Raimondo launched in August to expedite the process for approval and funding of school renovations and repairs. The Authority received applications for 120 projects and was able to fund 86 projects from 18 school districts or charter public schools. The total reimbursements for the approved projects will be $19,347,079, toward a total cost for the projects of approximately $24 million (the balance paid from local funds).
"We want Rhode Island to be a state in which all – not just some – of our school buildings meet the highest standards for quality, safety, and efficiency," said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Board of Education. "These projects say to our students and our teachers: We care about you, and we care about your education. With the approval of and funding for these construction projects, we have put school renovation and repair on a fast track."
"This initiative is good for our students, good for our teachers and school personnel, and good for our communities," said Daniel P. McConaghy, Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. "It's important that we invest in high-quality, well-designed classrooms and school buildings, and the funding from the School Building Authority gives school construction in Rhode Island a jump start."
"For so many Rhode Islanders, success starts in the classroom, and it is our priority to make those classrooms places where learning comes alive for kids," said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. "I thank Governor Raimondo, the members of the General Assembly, and the members of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education for their commitment to improving the quality and safety of our classrooms and school buildings. We are fortunate to have leaders who understand that investments in education are an investment in our future."
The R.I. Department of Education ranked projects using a set of priorities, with the Priority 1 projects consisting of repair projects that will directly address high-priority facility deficiencies to safeguard the health and safety of students and staff members. All eligible Priority 1 applications received approval. Approved projects include fire protection, roofing replacement, hazardous-materials abatement, security upgrades, heating and ventilation upgrades, exterior and elevator repairs, egress repairs, and lighting retrofits.
Approved projects had to have a minimum reimbursement from the capital fund of $10,000 up to a maximum reimbursement of $1 million.
The communities with approved projects are: Barrington, Beacon (charter), Bristol Warren, Burrillville, Central Falls, Cranston, East Providence, Foster, Foster-Glocester, Kingston Hill (charter), Middletown, New Shoreham, North Providence, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Providence, Tiverton, and Woonsocket.