WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Residents in Warwick will soon get to decide whether the city should go through with the plan to replace its high schools.
The Warwick City Council approved a resolution earlier this year, paving the way for a question about the project to be added to the ballot this November. The question would ask voters to either approve or reject the $350 million plan.
The debate over whether to replace the city’s two high schools, Pilgrim and Toll Gate, has stretched on for three years.
This week the school system will be holding two informational sessions to focus on what the new buildings would look like, why the project is needed and the financial plans that come with it.
The Rhode Island Department of Education would reimburse the city for roughly 50% of the project.
“It’s almost like build one high school, get one free,” Superintendent Lynn Dambruch previously said. “I mean, what a deal.”
Those in favor of the plan argue that the buildings are both more than half a century old and students deserve better.
Those against it said taxpayers can’t afford the project’s price, and it would be cheaper and easier to modernize both buildings rather than completely rebuild them.
“It would cost as much, if not more, to renovate, to bring where we need it to be, as opposed to building new schools,” Director of Capital and Construction for Warwick Public Schools Steven Gothberg said.
If the question makes it to the ballot and voters approve the project, the district hopes to break ground on the new buildings as early as fall 2023.
“Ultimately, let the voters decide,” Dambruch said. “That’s who should decide.”
Monday’s informational session is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Pilgrim’s cafeteria. The second session is Thursday at Toll Gate.