Smithfield High School to start restroom renovations

Smithfield High School to start restroom renovations

SMITHFIELD – Two restrooms at Smithfield High School will be completely redone thanks to a COVID-19 grant created specifically for facility improvements, says Supt. Judy Paolucci.

Plans include touch-free faucets and a change in configuration to allow for social distancing. Paolucci said the restrooms are not currently ADA compliant, and will need their entire entrances to be reconfigured.

“The current bathrooms are very out-of-date, at the risk of embarrassment,” Paolucci said.

Paolucci said the bathrooms are in very poor shape and lack modern technology such as hands-free water and paper towels.

The Town Council unanimously approved the renovations at Tuesday’s meeting, with councilors joking about the outdated design currently in the bathrooms.

Councilman T. Michael Lawton asked if the same pink tile will be used in the bathroom as was installed when the school opened.

“We’re probably going to find a different color tile that 50 years from now they won’t find appealing either,” Paolucci responded.

The Smithfield School Department was awarded $70,000 in COVID-19 relief funds that will help pay for the renovations for the restrooms nearest to the auditorium at Smithfield High School.

Total repair costs will be between $120,000 and $160,000, Paolucci said. The School Department will contribute $80,000 to the renovations, which she said will be reimbursed to the town in the form of housing aid. She said if $80,000 is contributed to the project, $28,000 will be reimbursed.

Paolucci added that the design plans went out to bid last year and were recently completed. She said due to the grant, the project will need to be completed by the end of September.

“This is a great opportunity to use funds for a real need at the high school,” she said.

Paolucci said she hopes the schools’ contribution, which was made using savings found in the operational funds, will be less than $80,000. She added that any expense for a capital project on the schools’ approved list can be reimbursed through housing aid.

Paolucci said the recent bathroom renovations are of special interest because the school recently met four out of five accreditation requirements, missing the criteria for facilities.

She said the high school received accreditation because it is working to remedy issues despite a lack of sufficient funding.

“We bite off whatever we can. All our restrooms need renovating, but if we do two at a time, that’s useful,” she said.