PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rhode Island has so far invested $1.3 billion in modernizing school buildings across the state, according to a new progress report.
The report, released Wednesday by R.I. Treasurer Seth Magaziner, highlights the progress the state’s School Building Task Force has made regarding renovations and repairs.
In 2018, the task force developed a plan to increase state funding for school construction, with a focus on enhancing educational spaces, health and safety, early childhood education, and career and technical facilities.
In the years since the funding was approved by voters, 163 school buildings have been lined up for repair or replacement across 22 of the state’s 36 districts. Of those, 12 projects have already been completed while several others are currently under construction or scheduled to break ground before 2022.
“Every child deserves to go to school in buildings that are warm, safe, dry and equipped for 21st-century learning,” Magaziner said.
Magaziner called the progress report “encouraging.” He said this level of new school construction is significantly higher than historical norms and well distributed across multiple school districts.
The report showcased the brand-new East Providence High School, which is currently the state’s largest school construction project.
The previous building, which was built in 1952, was deemed one of the lowest-quality high school buildings in the state.
“We are ecstatic about the construction of our state-of-the-art high school,” East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva said. “The success in the planning and construction of this magnificent school is evident because of the dedication and determination displayed by our state leaders down through our superintendent, building committee and our city staff who have worked tirelessly to have this beautiful high school built on time and on budget for our current students and future students, and we couldn’t be prouder.”
Students and faculty aren’t the only ones benefitting from the construction. Magaziner said the approved projects are expected to generate more than 21,000 jobs in Rhode Island.
“Every one of these investments is an investment in the future of our state, while supporting our local economy by putting Rhode Islanders to work,” R.I. Building and Construction Trades Council President Michael Sabitoni said.
Sabitoni said the new East Providence High School is “a testament of what is possible when we work together to make an investment in our schools.”