We support the School Facilities Improvement Bond in the May 4 special election. With anticipated approval by the RI Department of Education (RIDE) under their “Necessity of School Construction” Review, this bond directly supports infrastructure improvements to our schools – with a significant investment in our high school.

The School Facilities Improvement Plan will create modern, safe, and healthy learning environments for all students. With decreasing student enrollment, it right-sizes our high school by moving its location to Curtis Corner and takes 120,000 square feet of space offline; a significant portion of which is composed of wide hallways and multi-story stairwells at Columbia Street that can never be repurposed for learning.

The proposed renovations and expansion to situate our high school at the Curtis Corner campus maximize the layout of the existing building, allowing for project-based and outdoor learning. Modern spaces for career and technical education will allow our high school to retain students and attract new students from nearby communities. A new auditorium will showcase our students’ achievement in music, theater, and the arts. Its location as a “hub” in town, linking the South Road and Kingstown Road transportation arteries, situated directly on the bike path are other important highlights of this plan.

The Facilities Plan consolidates and creates a proper middle school (Grades 6-8) at Broad Rock, and moves 5th graders back to the elementary schools; a move that will allow for redistricting and has received strong support from all local stakeholders.

The plan incorporates four years of work, with details evolving in response to RIDE feedback, the school building committee, elected officials, town leadership and our community. As noted by RIDE officials, the plan meets their requirement that our district’s educational mission align with our facilities utilization. It is anticipated that RIDE will approve this plan with 50% in state reimbursement of the $85 million to renovate, streamline, and modernize our schools.

After decades of deferred maintenance, the need to invest in our public school infrastructure long overdue. With this opportunity to have half of the cost of these improvements paid for by state bond money, we are in a position to receive millions of dollars of infrastructure investment returned to our community. If not to us, those funds will go elsewhere. Vote early or on May 4 to approve the bond to build SK’s future.

Stacey Bodziony, Brad Hevenor, Sean Krueger, Alicia Monnes and Lauren Weinstock

The authors are the Board of Directors for the Friends of SK Schools group.

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