PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Less than 24 hours after being appointed as the temporary leader of the Providence Public School District, Dr. Frances Gallo toured some of the school buildings Thursday morning.
Gallo joined Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza to visit students and teachers at Young Woods Elementary School, Del Sesto Middle School and Central High School.
Students at Young Woods were part of an English Learner summer program.
“Their English is improving and they’re understanding that we want them to hang on to both languages,” Gallo said after visiting the classrooms.
At Del Sesto, Gallo and Elorza visited the Extended School Year program for students with individualized education plans. They watched a talent show rehearsal and visited a social skills class of high school students who talked about getting part-time jobs in the community.
The tours come as the city has been making repairs to schools before the start of the new school year, after a report by Johns Hopkins described poor conditions in some school buildings.
“Our main goal is to make sure the schools are ready to go on Sept. 3.,” Elorza said. “If you want to see the work in progress as it goes, we’re happy to show you guys, but understand that some of them are active work zones.”
The city is spending $20 million this summer on a number of school building projects including roof replacements, heating upgrades and electrical work.
The schools are also cleaned over the summers, which includes floor waxing, painting and pest control.
School Board President Nick Hemond and Teachers Union President Maribeth Calabro visited Carnevale Elementary School on Wednesday, where they both said they saw mouse droppings.
Both leaders were critical of Aramark, the outside company contracted for custodial services, for not keeping the school clean enough.
Gallo said Thursday that work is being done to close gaps and fill in crevices where rodents can get into the schools.
Gallo replaces Dorothy Smith, who was filling in as acting superintendent after former superintendent Chris Maher left his post at the end of the school year. She’s only expected to be interim superintendent for a short time, because state education commissioner Angélica Infante-Green plans to install her own superintendent when the state takes control of the district this fall.