JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Voters in Johnston will soon decide whether to approve a bond that would be used to repair and reconstruct the town’s school buildings.
Gov. Dan McKee signed off on legislation Tuesday that authorizes the town to put the $215 million bond before voters this April.
If voters approve the bond, Johnston’s schools will be consolidated into four buildings. Those buildings would include a brand new early childhood center and elementary school, according to the town’s master plan, as well as completely renovated middle and high school buildings.
The master plan calls for all of the existing elementary schools to be consolidated into one new building. In order to do this, the town plans to move 5th graders into the middle school.
(Story continues below.)
Johnston Superintendent Bernard DiLullo said 5th graders wouldn’t be integrated with the older students.
“But they will have access to the middle school, which will allow them to transition slowly as a middle school student,” he explained.
Under the master plan, Barnes Elementary School would be demolished to make room for the early childhood center, while the brand new Johnston Elementary School would be built off of Atwood Avenue near the high school.
Mayor Joseph Polisena said the town’s schools have been deteriorating over the years to the point where they’re insufficient.
“They are just old,” Polisena said of the town’s school buildings. “You can only put so much caulking around the windows. This is a cafeteria and they use it as a gym.”
Polisena said this multi-million dollar investment will not only benefit both current and future students, but teachers as well.
“We’ve got a great school system. Our teachers are fabulous and they work very hard,” Polisena said. “We want to give them the tools that they need and make sure our students are prepared for when they leave us and go out into the world.”
The bond, if approved, wouldn’t be the only source of funding for this project. Polisena said revenue from the town’s businesses, including the incoming Amazon facility, will also be put toward construction costs.