News Flash

Town News and Updates

Posted on: November 1, 2021

School Building Committee Committed To November 2022 Renovation Bond

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The Town Council and Building Committee discuss the upcoming plans to seek support for renovations to existing school buildings, with a bond expected to go on the November 2022 ballot before voters.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

CONTACT: Matt Sheley at (401) 712-2221 or msheley@middletownri.com

 

SCHOOL BUILDING COMMITTEE 

COMMITTED TO NOVEMBER 2022 RENOVATION BOND

 

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (NOVEMBER 1, 2021) – The Middletown School Building Committee is still targeting a school renovation bond on the November 2022 ballot, just how it gets there is changing somewhat.

 

At a Town Council meeting tonight from Town Hall, the Building Committee announced it was pushing back the filing date for its Phase 2 package with the Rhode Island Department of Education to September 2022, about seven months later than originally forecasted.

 

That way, school officials said they’d have more time to get everything together needed to make sure the project was what the schools and students needed and be successful with voters.

 

“We have to get approval and sign on by the Town Council on our plans and the directions we want to go for these projects,” said Charlie Roberts, Building Committee chairman. “With that, we would have to be deciding this month on a number of things that I don’t think any of us are ready to make those decisions.”

 

In response, council members said they wanted to support the project, but there needed to be clear goals and expectations set from the beginning. That way, everyone knew what to expect and consensus could begin to form around the effort.

 

“The numbers are going to dictate what we can and can’t do…” council President Paul Rodrigues said. “What’s really going to decide my mind is need versus how much the taxpayer can afford.”

 

To date, the schools haven’t provided a formal set of plans about what was needed. However, education officials have talked about creating “Learning Centers” in each of the four schools, remodeled science labs at Middletown High and Gaudet Middle schools, overhauling the library at Middletown High as well as opening new space for additional career pathways there.

 

Numbers from project leader Derek Osterman of Colliers Project Management indicated the schools were eligible for at least 35 percent reimbursement from the state on the final project cost. He said that figure could rise to a 52.5 percent reimbursement from the state if all the necessary targets were met.

 

The council did unanimously approve a resolution seeking General Assembly approval of a move to allow Middletown to delay the mandatory start of renovation work from December 2022 to December 2023.

 

For more than a decade, there have been conversations in Middletown about the future of the school buildings and grounds.

 

Instead of tearing down what it has and starting new, the Town has used a “fix what we have” strategy, where the existing four school structures are repaired and upgraded. That course tends to be less disruptive to the learning environment and far less expensive.

 

Overwhelmingly, voters have supported this strategy. Most recently, they approved a $10 million bond in November 2016 to do safety and update work to each of the schools among other improvements.

 

Last month, the schools filed a Stage 1 application with the state Department of Education. That paperwork included a facility condition assessment, demographic projections and a statement of interest from the Town Council to move forward with potential projects from the schools.

 

Whether it’s February 2022 or September 2022, the next step is to submit a Stage 2 application. That packet features a set of plans from the schools about specifically what was needed. From there, a bond would go on the November 2022 ballot before voters to pay for the work.

 

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