Schools looking better than they have in decades

Schools looking better than they have in decades

Merged departments have worked wonders, say officials

NORTH PROVIDENCE - The merger of the town and school maintenance departments in the spring paid huge dividends over the summer, say local officials, as jobs that in some cases had not been done for decades were finally completed.

Jim Fuoroli, new head of maintenance for both the town and its schools, collaborated with employees to get schools in sparkling shape for the start of the school year this week, according to Supt. Melinda Smith.

"We're really pleased with the merger," she told The Breeze. "It's refreshing to see that these schools have come to life."

According to Smith, work is getting done quicker, problems are being addressed more promptly, and issues that in some cases haven't been addressed "in 20 years" are finally being resolved.

Fuoroli, of North Smithfield, is "very organized," said Smith, and with the full power of the town's resources behind him, he's been able to get jobs done that last year would have taken much longer or not have been done at all. Landscaping work at the schools, long a problem, has seen a dramatic improvement, said Smith.

According to Fuoroli, the switch to a merged maintenance department has not only led to increased efficiency but saved town taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Instead of calling in outside companies to complete painting projects, current town workers are being offered the work, improving morale and keeping the money in town, he said.

"The results have just been phenomenal," said Mayor Charles Lombardi. "The custodians have never been more positive and happy."

Town officials say they expect to save $200,000 or more a year through merging the maintenance departments, a large chunk of that from the nearly $80,000 salary paid to former school facilities director Armand Milazzo, who was let go as part of the merger.

Fuoroli acknowledged the marked improvement in the condition of local schools this summer, but said the work itself has been nothing special.

"It was just work, nothing out of the ordinary," he said. "We did what we had to do."

According to Fuoroli, much of the improvement can be attributed to a breaking down of barriers between town and school workers as he's seen an increasing sense that "we're all in this together." For some workers, a "new outlook" and overall "positive attitude" for the department have led to improved results, said Fuoroli.

"The outlook before wasn't a positive one," he said. "It was a very negative thing, with people saying, 'we can't do this, we can't do that.'"

School officials say the maintenance staffs for the town and schools have remained the same except for the consolidation of two positions with the addition of Fuoroli.

The following are some of the jobs completed this summer by Fuoroli and his crew:

* Marieville Elementary School - Nine classrooms and a hallway were repainted and 17 classrooms were relocated.

* Whelan Elementary School - Twelve classrooms were painted, three offices were painted, two security windows were installed in the new secretary's office, and four rooms were relocated.

* Birchwood Middle School - The library was repainted, the textbook loan program was moved in from the school administration building, air conditioners were installed, permanent speed bumps were installed, two classrooms were painted, a new science lab sink was installed, and a new special education classroom was set up with new sink, refrigerator and furniture.

* North Providence High School - The cafeteria, nurse's office and various hallways were painted and a bathroom was modified to be accessible to special needs students.

* Stephen Olney Elementary School - Hallway baseboards, second-floor hallways and stairways were all repainted.

* McGuire Elementary School - The entire third floor of the school, as well as all ceilings, were primed and painted.

* Greystone Elementary School - Seven classrooms were repainted and several classrooms were relocated.

* Ricci Middle School - Four classrooms, a wing of the school's hallways and two student bathrooms were all repainted.

* Centredale Elementary School - One room was repainted.

* Floors across the district have also been stripped down and re-waxed.

Fuoroli said he has no plans to allow progress in North Providence schools to slow down. Upcoming projects will include re-lining the high school parking lot, improvements to the football field and concession stands, and rebuilding outside stairs, among others.

Comments

This merger just shows how things can be more efficient, streamlined and less costly if political leaders and unions could come together.
This should have been done years ago!!

Everything in this states no matter the subject is always based on some sort of "union" comment?? Is there really a need to refer to the "unions" for every story.... We get it the people of the state of RI are "BIASED" against "Unions" Now that that has been said let's get on with life!! A "thank you" to your town employees would have been the right thing to say!!