NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — While education officials in Newport seek approval from the state to rebuild Rogers High School, the school’s principal is offering community tours to prove why the building needs to be torn down.
Newport Public Schools submitted a plan to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) in September with the goal of adding a school bond vote to the ballot in 2020.
“Those were our wish lists things, that we would want in an educational environment, knowing that we will have to pare that down based on what the community can support financially and the guidance that comes from RIDE,” Rogers High School Principal Jared Vance said.
Eyewitness News joined a community tour of the school Wednesday night, along with about a dozen other residents interested in the building’s current condition.
The high school has been criticized over the years for having worn down classrooms and water issues, including leaks that result in a musty smell.
As several on the tour noted, when you walk through the front doors of the school, the humidity is overwhelming. Vance said school officials are well aware of the problem.
“We have to go through this process to highlight what things are not working, and where the roof is leaking, or the plumbing is failing, or where the significant issues are in the building,” Vance said.
Vance, along with Newport’s Superintendent Colleen Burns Jermain, has been vocal about what areas of the building they hope are addressed.
Eyewitness News went on a similar tour of the building last year after students complained about the classrooms being too cold.
“The heating system was failing on certain parts of the building,” Vance said. “We had to do some repairs on it.”
“It’s not that it’s necessarily getting worse, we’re just staying at that same place where there are always issues that we have to address,” he added.
Vance hopes community tours will provide taxpayers with a first-hand account as to why the school needs to be rebuilt.
The school is hosting another community tour on Saturday beginning at 9 a.m.