EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A member of the East Providence School Committee is raising concerns about the city’s new high school, claiming there’s a long list of issues dating back a year and a half.
Tony Ferreira, member-at-large on the committee, said he wants the public to be made aware of a “punch list” of items that need to be addressed both inside and outside of the brand new state-of-the-art East Providence High School.
The school opened to students in the fall of 2021 after voters approved the $190 million project. The old high school, built in the 1950s, was demolished.
A large portion of the cost to build the new school was refunded by the Rhode Island Department of Education through the statewide $250 million school construction bond. East Providence was the first district to take advantage of the funding.
Ferreira said the issues range from minor to major. He said sidewalks and retention walls are cracked, toilets are backed up and need valve replacements, and the retention pond isn’t draining.
“Defected sidewalks, already lifting … cracking,” he said, while showing 12 News around the property. “We’ve got doors held up with drywall screws, we’ve got doors missing screws … the drainage retention ponds that aren’t letting the water seep away, we’re being told some of them might have the wrong soil in them, some might have debris in them.”
In the back of the school by the bleachers, he said there’s a drain line problem and it will need to be dug up. Due to that issue, a massive light pole can’t be installed and the entire section is fenced off.
“The light pole that you see missing is still laying on that far left-hand corner,” Ferreira said. “That’s been down now seven, eight, maybe nine months.”
The list that was provided to 12 News has 42 items in total, and only a few are marked completed. Ferreira claims the list goes back a year and a half, and has been kept from the public. He said in the school committee meetings, the issues are discussed in executive session.
“When we build buildings, things do happen,” he said. “But not to let the public know where the issues lie, who’s responsible to pay for them, why it’s taken a year and a half … that’s the frustrating part.”
He said maintenance workers from across the district are often at the high school addressing issues there, rather than at their own schools.
“I’m just against having our guys work on any of this punch list because we already paid somebody to do that,” he added.
Ferreira said he worries that taxpayers will be left to foot the bill, but according to the school department, Gilbane Building Company is on the hook for repair costs.
“The building committee, school committee and administration are all working with Gilbane to remedy all the items on the punch list,” Superintendent Sandra Forand wrote in a statement to 12 News. “Addressing punch list items is a typical part of any construction process. We believe that Gilbane will repair all the items for which they have contractual responsibility. If they do not, the district will pursue its contractual remedies.”
A spokesperson for the city of East Providence assured that taxpayers won’t be held responsible.
“We have full faith and confidence in the school committee leadership, the building committee and Superintendent Forand and her team to remedy all of the necessary issues including the cracked sidewalks and toppled lampposts at no additional cost to our taxpayers,” spokesperson Patricia Resende said.
12 News also brought these issues to Gilbane. A company spokesperson said in a statement, “Gilbane has continued to work closely with the school administration and the owners project manager to address any identified issue and to maintain the building up to the standard of what the families of East Providence committed to. We are proud of the state-of-the-art school and the hard work of the tradesmen and women of RI who built it. We will, in keeping with the terms of our contact obligations, continue to address issues and be partners with East Providence.”