PORTSMOUTH, RI - Highlighting the need for statewide investment in school construction ahead of House and Senate hearings this week, Governor Gina Raimondo toured Portsmouth Middle School on Monday joined by school officials, elected leaders and members of the labor and building trades.
With a facility deficiency cost of nearly $20 million, the condition of Portsmouth Middle School is considered poor, according to the R.I. Department of Education's State of Rhode Island Schoolhouses report released in September 2017.
"Every child deserves to go to school in a place that is warm, safe, and dry," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "Simply putting band aids on our schools year after year only kicks the heart of the issue down the road. It's time for our state to make a once-in-a-lifetime investment to ensure every child is in a learning environment that contributes to their success."
School buildings in every district in the state received failing grades in Rhode Island's first-ever statewide, independent study of public school facilities last year. The report forecasts $627.5 million in high-priority construction and repairs.
Governor Raimondo's 2019 budget proposal sets the conditions to see $1 billion in school construction activity over the next five years, including a proposed $250 million general obligation bond to be put on the ballot in November.
"Rhode Islanders are clearly ready to make a once-in-a-generation investment in repairing our schools and building modern facilities that can equip students with the skills and experience to succeed," said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. "The longer we wait the more expensive and difficult it will be to overcome this challenge. It's time to fix our schools now."
"This effort is critical in providing our students a safe, warm and dry learning environment," said Larry Purtill, president of the National Education Association Rhode Island. "We need schools that meet the technology needs of a modern economy. We need to send a message to all of our students that they are important and we care about their future no matter what community they live in."
"Investing in school construction is paramount for students, teachers and our economy," said Michael Sabitoni, President of the RI Building and Construction Trades Council. "Our school buildings are dilapidated and in desperate need of repair. Fixing them will not only create a better learning environment for students and teachers, but will create jobs and be a huge boon to our state's construction industry."