Two forums to be held this month on Cumberland school building plan

Two forums to be held this month on Cumberland school building plan

CUMBERLAND – An ad hoc committee that has been looking at where the Cumberland School Department should start with the $83 million bond approved by voters last fall is gearing up for two public input meetings.

The first is Sept. 12, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Cumberland High School auditorium, and the second is Sept. 19, starting at 7 p.m. in the CHS transitional building cafeteria.

School Committee Chairman Paul DiModica said the ad hoc committee is made up of Supt. Bob Mitchell, Business Manager Alex Prignano, IT Director Mike Chandler, Will Dejesus from food service provider Sodexo, Louis Torrado from Torrado Architects, and two representatives from Colliers International, the town’s agent supervising the work. DiModica and School Committee member Mark Fiorillo have also attended meetings.

Torrado will be making a presentation on the first project under the bond, Ashton Elementary improvements, and an overview of what work will be done at all five elementary schools, the two middle schools and the high school.

“The plan selected for presentation takes into consideration what is best for the elementary schools,” said DiModica.

Community School currently has more than 600 students and has students who attend from the Ashton and Cumberland Hill boundary lines. The recommendation by Mitchell is to return those children back to their home schools once the work is completed. The recommendation is based on the demographic study that the Rhode Island Department of Education required the school district to complete.

RIDE is requiring that all the work on Cumberland school improvements be done in five years once officials get approval to commence. The plan is to close an elementary school each year over the five years. The transitional building at the high school will be made into an elementary school while all this work is going on. During the five years, the work for the high school and middle schools will be planned during the summer.

Colliers has been working very closely with Torrado looking at the five elementary school properties and walking every school to make sure the plans can work within the $83 million bond, said DiModica.

Today, Sept. 5, at 1 p.m. the ad hoc members will be meeting in the superintendent’s conference room to finalize the plan and talk about the public presentation. DiModica said he hopes that the School Committee takes a formal vote on Sept. 19 to recommend to the building committee the plan that members believe works best for children.

School officials were originally planning to go to RIDE this month for approval. “We were not ready and we discussed putting it off until February 2020 for approval,” said DiModica. RIDE instead gave them until November to present for approval.

“We must reach that minimum 50 percent reimbursement rate in order to proceed,” he said of the Town Council’s mandate that the projects hit all of the reimbursement checkmarks. Representatives from Torrado and Colliers believe the town is currently in the range of 60-65 percent reimbursement for its projects.