Committee members pleased with master plan to overhaul schools

Committee members pleased with master plan to overhaul schools

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Aside from a few questions about closing Marieville Elementary School, members of the North Providence School Committee say they are thoroughly impressed with the master plan to overhaul the school district's facilities.

Luis Torrado of Torrado Architects presented his proposal for Phase 1 of the $76.3 million master plan to the School Committee at its Sept. 24 meeting.

The informational meeting gave committee members an opportunity to review the plan for the first time and give feedback if needed.

Feedback, however, was sparse, except for a concern raised by committee members Roderick DaSilva and Donald Cataldi about closing Marieville Elementary School.

"Why are we closing Marieville? My grandfather went there," said DaSilva, laughing.

Torrado explained that Marieville, along with James L. McGuire and Stephen Olney were identified by the Rhode Island Department of Education as having the "most serious adequacy issues among the schools."

To fix this, both Olney and McGuire would be rebuilt, while Marieville would close.

He told the committee that Marieville would not close, however, until the addition at Greystone Elementary School was finished.

This addition would temporarily house the students of Marieville until the School Department could redistrict.

Under the Phase 1A proposal, construction crews would build a new school at Olney and McGuire, with enough space to accommodate the students.

The existing buildings would remain until Phase 1B, at which time the old schools would be torn down and the students would relocate to the new facilities.

John McNamee, business manager, said if taxpayers approve the master plan, the School Department would have to secure extra transportation from the Marieville section of town to Greystone.

"But we would be saving on the overall operating budget because the school is closed," he said.

Cataldi said he did not understand why both Olney and McGuire were getting new buildings, while the students of Marieville had to relocate and lose their school.

Torrado said because of the power lines currently on the property, RIDE would not allow a new school be built adjacent to the old one.

"You cannot build a school near power lines anymore with the new rules, RIDE would not approve that, they are much stricter now," he said. "You would have the land, however, to use for something else. It's a very useful property."

The next step in the process, McNamee said, is to have an informational meeting with the Town Council, before hosting a number of public forums this winter.

Both parties then have to decide whether or not to approve the plan.

Even if both the committee and council approve the plan, it still might change depending on what RIDE approves.

"They have to look at the master plan and look at the options and the numbers and it has to be submitted to the Board of Education also for approval," he said.

If all goes according to plan, the bond referendum would go before the voters in June.

The only issue, he said, is timing.

With the extension on the moratorium ending on May 1, cities and towns will be vying for housing aid.

"We want to make sure we're ready with everything at the table," he said. "Once the moratorium is lifted we'll be in the position to move fairly quickly."

Under the moratorium, North Providence would receive a 58 percent reimbursement on the project, leaving them to foot a $49 million bill, after accumulating an additional $43 million in interest over 10 years.

Comments

What is missing in this discussion? It would take the biggest part of five years to get the schools all fixed up and a twenty year bond for $50 million. So let's analyze this a bit. Where will the town of NP be in 5, 10 or 20 years, where is NP going? If there is NOT a thorough financial audit and forecast for the town for the next 20 years (there is NOT) then I think everyone is kidding themselves. The real question is will NP be a town or will we financially fail and be merged with neighboring cities/towns in the great "melt down" of RI? Remember the latest tax increase, well taxpayers get ready for some really big hits coming, why, because there is no MASTER PLAN for FINANCIALS in the town of NP. Taxpayers need to demand full financial disclosure for the next 20 years and we need that before the school bonds come up for public consideration. If we had leadership there would have already been full financial disclosure and consolidation plans underway.