Northern R.I. Collaborative to lease Winsor Elementary

Northern R.I. Collaborative to lease Winsor Elementary

SMITHFIELD – Winsor Elementary School will not stay vacant for long, as the town is planning a potential lease agreement with the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative, which focuses on providing special education programs to students from various districts.

Town Manager Randy Rossi said plans are in the works for NRIC to move into Winsor Elementary School, located at 562 Putnam Pike in Greenville, after the school closed.

Lease payments from the NRIC would help cover the cost of installing a sprinkler system in several below-grade areas in the school, as well as bringing it into ADA compliance.

The town would pay the up-front costs for the long-needed sprinkler system, said Rossi. He said this is a “win-win” for the town and NRIC, which currently has space in Lincoln.

“It’s a great resource for ourselves and the surrounding area,” Rossi said.

“And the building will not be moth-balled, either,” he added.

Staff at the NRIC could not be reached for comment.

Winsor Elementary has long been plagued by fire code issues centered around the library and several rooms in the lower level.

In 2018, 14 years after an initial fire safety code variance to allow the school to remain open was issued, the Rhode Island Fire Safety Code Board granted a final extension to remain open until the end of the 2020-2021 school year, when the school would be shut down.

At the time, Supt. Judy Paolucci estimated costs for the sprinkler system to be around $300,000, which she considered a waste in the long run for the town due to other deficiencies such as not being ADA compliant.

Paolucci, who is on the NRIC board, said she has been working with the town and NRIC on the deal, and is happy the building will not be left vacant.

“Leasing to this group will give the town some time during these unstable economic times to develop a long-term plan for the facility,” she said.

The NRIC works directly with students and offers professional development for individuals and schools, as well as a transition center for high school students with disabilities and their families, teachers, service providers and other professionals.