PROVIDENCE, RI - Governor Dan McKee and Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green today released the 2022 School Building Authority Report, Renewing the Dream, which summarizes the state's continued work to build high-quality school facilities across Rhode Island. The Governor and Commissioner were joined by state and local leaders at a release event at Frank D. Spaziano Elementary School, the renovation and expansion of which is one of the major projects highlighted in the report.
"We are continuing to make progress in providing every child in Rhode Island with modern school facilities where they can get an excellent education," said Governor McKee. "For too long, our funding structures have left our most at-need cities and towns behind, but our entire state team is working tirelessly to change that. Together, we can give every student in Rhode Island the world-class schools they deserve."
"Investments in our schools are good for business, good for communities, and most importantly, good for our students," said Board of Education Chair Barbara Cottam. "The schools highlighted in this report are vastly improved from where we were when I was first nominated to the Board of Education in 2015. We must continue this work and create 21st-century school facilities in every neighborhood across Rhode Island."
"The SBA is ensuring that children in every Rhode Island community can attend school in a facility that inspires them and reflects their unlimited potential," said Commissioner Infante-Green. "In just three years, we've fully invested $250 million in schools across the state - but we can't stop here. We're going to keep working to make our schools better, brighter, and more resilient."
Renewing the Dream, the SBA's first report since 2017, provides an in-depth look at the results of progress made across the state on using the funds from the 2018 school construction bond. The report showcases eleven case studies on major renovations or full building replacements that have been completed across the state, as well as another six ongoing projects. The report also lays out the necessity of continued funding for school construction through the Governor's proposed $250 million bond initiative.
Included in the bond initiative is specific funding for the Facility Equity Initiative, a program to provide underserved districts with greater access to school construction funding. The first Facility Equity Initiative awards were distributed at the event and provided $20 million in funding to the districts of Central Falls, Woonsocket, Pawtucket, Providence, and West Warwick. Renewing the Dream explains how the Governor's proposed bond not only continues but improves this initiative to ensure every child in Rhode Island has access to 21st-century learning facilities. State leaders presented local school leaders checks reflecting the awarded funds through the Facility Equity Initiative.
Breakdown of FEI winners:
Central Falls - $8,665,922 Providence - $4,453,002 Pawtucket - $4,355,836 Woonsocket - $1,656,372 West Warwick - $868,868
"Every child deserves an equal chance to learn in school facilities that inspire them to achieve and empower them to succeed. With a focus on the long-term success of our school community and centered in feedback from students, parents, educators and community members, we launched a robust, year-long school facility planning project in 2017. In 2019, RIDE approved our ambitious five-year School Capital Plan for up to $278 million in improvements, the largest investment approved by the State for a district in history, to support learning environments that are more than safe, warm and dry because our students deserve to learn in the best environment we can provide for them. After decades of neglect, together we are making the long-term investments in our schools because we know that every dollar invested in our schools and our students is a direct investment in the future of our city."
At the event, Commissioner Infante-Green placed a spotlight on Spaziano Elementary School which will be rebuilt like new and Spaziano Elementary Annex which is set to be demolished and completely rebuilt. She underscored the importance of the innovative effort to transform the old Windmill Elementary School, which will be the Narducci Learning Center, into swing space to host students temporarily and enable construction to take place across Providence.
"We have an obligation to our children to provide warm, dry, and safe school buildings," said City Councilman Nicholas Narducci (Ward 4). "For more than a decade the old Windmill Elementary School sat abandoned, it was vandalized, and a fire broke out last year. It pained me to see this crown jewel of the neighborhood, become such a blight. Now, renovations are underway, fueled by $30.5 million in funding, which will bring the school back to its former glory. I'm humbled to see the progress and one day soon the new Narducci Learning Center will act as much needed 'swing space' for students from other renovation projects. Eventually, the modern building will be a permanent school for so many city children."