With the news in the Nov. 14, 2020 edition of the Providence Journal that David DeQuattro, owner and managing principal of Robinson Green Beretta Corp. Architects, is in federal custody facing bribery and extortion charges, the Town of South Kingstown and the South Kingstown School District should make public that portion of the April 4, 2017 school committee meeting, held in executive session, regarding the discussion and subsequent vote to hire RGB for the Facilities Improvement Project. In light of the fact that this occurred in the same time frame as those mentioned in the federal charges, it puts into question why only three firms were under consideration, including one based in North Carolina, why RGB was awarded the contract over SMMA / Symmes Maini & McKee Associates, and who voted as such in that session.
RGB’s hiring also puts into question the dearth of options presented to the community by Robert Hendriks, of Legacy Educational Planning Group, and the canalization of the scope to fit RGB’s supposed strengths of master plan development and renovation, over any consideration of new construction, given the fact that the total assessed cost for fixing South Kingstown’s nine school buildings, whose average age today is 60 years, was inventoried at $62 million in the Jacobs Report in 2016. Likewise in doubt is the $85 million project limit fostered by town manager, Robert Zarnetske, and school district superintendent, Linda Savastano, which is based on the false premises that the annual property tax transfer to school district to support education will never decline, in amount or percentage, and that the two union locals affiliated with NEARI, NEASK and SKESP, are under no obligation to synchronize their membership in parallel with our steadily declining enrollment.
Additionally, the Town Council should, without delay, inform the School Committee of their concern for any and all further dealings with RGB, to include the Stage II application, and call for the suspension of all ongoing work on the application by RGB and the Peregrine Group, the project’s OPM.
To ensure the safety of South Kingstown’s previously purchased intellectual property, e.g. in the form of design drawings, Peregrine should take possession of said property pending the formation of a new building committee which should be charged with hiring a new architect(s) to take over this work. To that end the Town Council and School Committee should request assistance of our State representatives in applying for a 12-month extension from the School Building Authority at RIDE from the current 31 Dec 2022 and 31 Dec 2023 end dates for start of construction.
Transparency and accountability, in every aspect of this effort to fix South Kingstown’s school buildings, have got to be paramount from this point forward if you expect the voters to approve taking on the amount of debt it will take to transform our schools into 21st Century learning centers.