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 Middletown Rhode Island - Talk Of New School Buildings Sparks Excitement 26 May 2022 ( news )

Middletown Rhode Island - Talk Of New School Buildings Sparks Excitement 26 May 2022 ( news )

Middletown , state Rhode Island
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   The School Building Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday , May 31 to talk about what ' s next with three potential new school buildings , the latest development with plans expected to go before local voters on Election Day , Nov . 8 . #MiddletownRI
   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
   CONTACT: Matt Sheley at ( 401 ) 842 - 6543 or
   msheley@middletownri . com
    
   TALK OF NEW SCHOOL BUILDINGS SPARKS EXCITEMENT 
    ...... />   MIDDLETOWN , R . I . ( MAY 26 , 2022 )  – Excitement is growing around discussions to build three new schools in town .
   Less than 70 hours after the Town Council voted unanimously last week to pursue the idea further , the School Building Committee met in the Oliphant administration building to talk about what’s next .
   Now , the volunteer Building Committee has another session on Tuesday , May 31 at 6:30 pm from Oliphant to dig deeper into the project and what’s in store for the next few months .
   “We viewed our situation as dire after the reduction of our ‘Option E’ then rejection of our ‘Option F’ by ( the Rhode Island Department of Education ) , ” Building Committee Co - Chairman Edward Brady said . “We were dead in the water and taking on water . Then , it was like we won Powerball!”
   “There’s no doubt we have a lot of work ahead of us , but it’s good to have options , ” Town Administrator Shawn J . Brown said . “Like Ed’s saying , we didn’t really have a palatable solution and now we do . The direction is clear and I know we’re really looking forward to working with Newport to make our schools the best they can be together . ”
   A formal decision from the Middletown council about whether to move forward with the project won’t be made until the summer . Still , it was clear some were ready to go and take advantage of the state’s offer to cover 80 cents on the dollar of new school building construction .
   “We are going where no one considered 18 months ago…” Brady said . “Presently , our schools in some cases were attended by our students’ great grandparents and in five short years , it will be all new schools . ”
   Under this model , Middletown and Newport residents would need to vote on Election Day to regionalize their school systems . Middletown voters would also need to sign off on Nov . 8 on a $235 million bond for construction of the schools . Under an ironclad agreement , RIDE would pay $188 million of those costs .
   In order to make the Nov . 8 deadline , Middletown officials have said the Town Council needs to make that decision no later than its Aug . 1 meeting to get the items before voters on Election Day .
   For feedback about what will work best for Middletown’s buildings , meetings are in the process of being scheduled with educators , staff and students . There’s also talk about visiting new schools across the region to see and feel of a state - of - the - art school building .
   Middletown’s existing schools are 50 - 70 years old and in need of work . A study done for the School Building Committee last November reported at least $190 million in repairs were necessary .
   Knowing that amount was more than Middletown taxpayers could bear , the Building Committee recommended $90 million in repairs . That total was reduced by the Town Council to $60 million , money that would largely cover repairs to Middletown High only .
   From that situation , Middletown officials asked if Newport was interested in restarting talks . At the same time , Middletown council President Paul M . Rodrigues apologized for how some in town had dismissed the idea of working together before .  
   RIDE joined the process a short time later , saying the two communities could function as a regional school district under one school committee , finance committee and administration , but keep their buildings and students . The move would guarantee at least an 80 percent reimbursement from the state on all new building construction .
   Of the $235 million cost for a new combined Middletown High and Gaudet Middle school and a combined elementary school , Middletown taxpayers would be on the hook for about $47 million . That’s more than $140 million less than the “Band - Aids” to fix the town’s existing schools .
   The School Building Committee needs to have a Stage II design for the new schools to RIDE no later than February 23 , 2023 . Should voters approve the bond and regionalization , the construction of the new schools must be finished no later than November 2027 .
   A new combined high school - middle school would go at the former Starlight Drive - In property now multi - use fields at 1225 Aquidneck Ave . next to Gaudet Middle School .  
   Grades six through eight would go to classes in one part of the building completely separate from the high school grades nine through 12 . Initial planning showed the building would share a 500 - 600 seat auditorium , a cafeteria and library media center . Importantly , middle and high school students would not be in those spaces together .
   The combined elementary school would be constructed on part of the existing footprint of Middletown High at 120 Valley Road . Eventually , both Aquidneck and Forest Avenue elementary schools would close after the new combined elementary school was complete . A pre - kindergarten center for Middletown youngsters will be built on the new elementary school campus too , creating a synergy around early childhood education .
   The way the school construction project is phased , temporary trailers would not be needed .  Construction on the combined high school - middle school would come first , with students staying in the existing buildings until work wrapped up there . Then , building would begin at the Valley Road campus for the new elementary school , with the Aquidneck and Forest Avenue schools staying in service until they were no longer needed .
   Work on the new schools would be overseen by the town , with input from school administrators , teachers and other educators playing an important role .
   Although it’s early in the process , town leaders have floated the idea of using the entire  Aquidneck School site at 70 Reservoir Road for community ballfields . he Forest Avenue property at 315 Forest Ave . has been considered for affordable housing .
   Because there are so many moving pieces , the Town Council recently asked the town’s Open Space & Fields Committee to review the community’s existing athletic fields and potential impacts of the new school construction . The goal would be to make sure every field that currently exists would be replaced by an equal — or better — facility .
   “The thought that our students will leave their 1950s - 1960s schools in a June and in a September , they will enter a totally different educational environment , that’s amazing , ” the Building Co - Chairman Brady said . “Also , one thing that really hasn’t been talked about is the new buildings will provide a healthy environment for all occupants . ”
   Document Link: https://www . middletownri . com/DocumentCenter/View/4886/NYCU - Building - Committee - Final
   Additional Info . . .
   





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