SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The South Kingstown School Committee is exploring constructing a new high school at either the site of Curtis Corner Middle School or South Road School.
The committee voted 4-3 May 14 to direct the School Building Committee to investigate the option.
At a May 1 meeting, the building committee voted to ask the school committee for direction on the matter.
“I think it warrants investigation,” School Committee Member Michelle Brousseau said.
The building committee noted that it has heard from town residents who’d like to see the construction of a new high school building on existing town property and adjacent to existing play fields.
The building committee also said it received an initial cost estimate of about $63 million to construct a new building and a ‘total cost to construct’ estimate prepared that suggests the cost to build a new high school, inclusive of design and soft costs, would be about $100 million.
Town officials have looked at South Kingstown’s debt service, however, and said the town could only pay for bonding of up to about $80 million, unless another $2 million to $3.5 million in annual savings or revenue can be found over the next 20 years.
South Kingstown submitted a Stage 2 Necessity of School Construction application for school construction aid to the Rhode Island Department of Education in February. The state’s School Building Authority has deferred consideration of South Kingstown’s application until September.
Last September, RGB Architects gave the School Committee a look at conceptual plans for renovating South Kingstown High School.
School Committee member Jacy Northup is a representative on the Building Committee. She feels part of the reason for the new activity is because people have asked about the possibility of including a new high school in facilities plans.
“To renovate the one we have now and then regret it seems crazy,” she said. “We’ve been given the extra time. We should take it and look at it.”
School Committee member Emily Cummiskey said she’s comfortable with an option that would see renovation of 80 percent of the existing school. But the Building Committee should have the chance to investigate building a new high school.
“Is it financially feasible to build a new high school at Curtis Corner,” she said. “Let’s let the building committee come back to us with answers.”
Chairwoman Stephanie Canter said she couldn’t support it.
“I feel people are considering this not because they want a new high school, but because they don’t want the loss of the property with the athletic fields,” she said. “I feel we’re spinning our wheels to check off a box we don’t need to check off.”