Middle school project praised as 'model' for other communities

Project has qualified for 35 percent reimbursement from state

EastBayRI.com ·

Barrington school officials have been charting their own course with the middle school project, and may be building a blueprint for other schools across the state to follow.

More than five years ago, local school leaders began preparing and planning for a new middle school, even though the state, at that time, had instituted a moratorium on new construction. 

Patrick Guida, a member of the school building committee, said Barrington wanted to be the first in line and well-prepared when the moratorium was lifted.

"We knew we were competing for state dollars," Mr. Guida said. 

In addition, officials in town knew the cost of construction would likely increase as time passed — the sooner the project started, the less it would cost.

Mr. Guida said Rhode Island Department of Education officials have praised Barrington for conducting a "model process."

The project has qualified for 35 percent reimbursement from the state. Also, Barrington earned additional bonus reimbursement percentage points for incorporating efficiencies into the project.

Last fall, state officials released a "Schoolhouse Report" which detailed the deficiencies in school buildings across Rhode Island. According to the report, public schools across Rhode Island will need about $2.2 billion in repairs or upgrades in the coming years to bring all 306 of Rhode Island’s public schools into a state of good condition.

Senator Jack Reed is offering legislation — the School Building Improvement Act — to provide federal resources for capital improvements of public schools and wants to include the legislation in a national infrastructure spending plan. Sen. Reed’s initiative would help provide $100 billion in federal grants and school construction bonds over the next decade to help build and renovate schools.  

By providing states with grants and low-cost bonds to meet their school construction and modernization needs, it would help strengthen communities, especially those in underserved areas, and support an estimated 1.8 million jobs nationwide, while also laying the foundation for better schools, smart growth, and a brighter future.

In Rhode Island, officials are considering a a significant bond to pay for the school construction. If that bond passes, it could mean greater state reimbursements for school projects. 

Barrington school officials cautioned that it is too early to know if the middle school project could receive additional money from the state.

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