BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — People around Rhode Island will be voting next month on whether their city or town should borrow money to fund various school construction projects.
On Tuesday, 12 News was in Barrington, where school committee members showcased some of the issues that would be addressed if voters approve a $250 million bond referendum on the ballot this fall.
Should the measure pass, it will allow the district to add much-needed square footage to the town’s elementary schools, according to school committee vice chair TJ Peck.
“We have demographic trend reports from our consultants and the problem is only going to get worse, and so this is across our district,” he said.
One of the schools that’s struggling is Primrose Hill, where a modular building has been erected beside the school to add classroom space.
“This is a two-room modular behind us, and we’re actually in the process of bringing another four-room modular on,” school committee chair Patrick McCrann explained.
Makeshift learning spaces have also been set up in large closets, the cafeteria, and on the auditorium stage.
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The funds would also be used to modernize Barrington High School.
McCrann said the district could receive up to 55% reimbursement from the state for the project, lessening the burden on taxpayers.
“We have a decision to make now as a community: do we want to get ahead of this, although it is challenging for taxpayers, or do we want to be in more of a reactive mode, facing challenges for the next 10 to 20 years?” he asked.
If the bond referendum is approved, the district will submit the next stage of its application to the R.I. Department of Education by February. McCrann and Peck also said they’ll be asking educators around the district to help come up with design plans.
The town opened a new middle school back in 2019.