SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. – The town of South Kingstown’s School Building Committee has launched an informational campaign to get the word out about the $85 million school facilities upgrade that’s being prepared for a vote next year.
The committee announced last week that it launched a website, SKSDbuild.org, which includes information about the educational vision, scope of the projects, their financing and additional data.
Residents, taxpayers, parents and students will have the opportunity to get a live update on the proposed work and have questions answered on Nov. 30 at 6 p.m., during a virtual community presentation by the Building Committee.
Representatives from the Building Committee will provide an overview of the proposals and respond to questions and comments that will be submitted through a questionnaire that’s available on the new website.
The town’s School Committee and Superintendent of Schools Linda Savastano will host two virtual listening sessions in December for residents to share additional comments and questions.
In addition, postcards publicizing the presentation, website, questionnaire and Q&A sessions were mailed to every residence in South Kingstown.
The school district is pursuing funding for the projects through the state’s School Construction Program. South Kingstown’s Stage 2 submission to the Rhode Island Department of Education is due in February, but must first be approved by both the School Committee and the Town Council.
If RIDE approves the submission early next year, South Kingstown would hold a special election in the spring of 2021 for voters to approve or reject a bond referendum for $85 million to finance the projects.
The application is needed in order to seek state reimbursement of between 35 and 50 percent on the work after its substantial completion. That money comes from a statewide $250 million bond issue for school projects that voters approved in November 2018.
Currently on the table is a plan to renovate Curtis Corner Middle School for use as a new high school site, and to expand Broad Rock School into a full middle school, housing all grade 6-8 students. The town’s elementary schools also would receive site improvements, such as library renovations and grade 5 learning areas at each building.
As part of the project, the existing high school building on Columbia Street and the adjacent Hazard Building would be discontinued, and the existing district administration building at Curtis Corner would be demolished to accommodate the new high school.
Administration offices would be relocated to the vacant South Road Elementary School site.
The Stage 2 application has been in the works for almost two years.
The town submitted a Stage 2 Necessity of School Construction application for school construction aid to the state in February 2019. The state’s School Building Authority deferred consideration of South Kingstown’s application until September 2019, but local officials pushed the target to February 2020 and then to September after the Curtis Corner high school option was introduced.