Newport looking to move ahead with school construction plans

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NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — School officials in Newport are looking to make several changes over the next decade, including addressing much-needed issues with the aging Rogers High School.

Rogers was built in the 1950s, and school officials say the building is showing its age. At a meeting with the Newport City Council Thursday night, school officials shared a timeline with the council for infrastructure improvements.

“It’s a necessity of deciding what to do,” Ray Gomes, chairman of the Newport School Committee, said. “Whether we rebuild or build new, we will have to address it with millions of dollars of taxpayer money.”

Gomes said he believes it is necessary to build a new high school, but said the district will work with consultants to make that decision.

“The location of it, I think, is to be determined,” Gomes said.

If they decide to build a new school, Gomes said they could choose a location later this year. He also said it might take as long as five years before the new facility would be up and running.

Across town, the district said it is also looking to address problems at Claiborne Pell Elementary School, which just opened in 2013. Gomes said at Pell, space is a huge problem due to increased enrollment.

“We have run out of rooms there for the Pre-K,” Gomes said. “So, for the last three years I believe, maybe four years, we’ve rented space in Middletown.”

The lease in Middletown expires in June 2020, so Gomes said the district is looking to act fact while remaining fiscally responsible.

“This process we’re entering allows us to get reimbursement for the project through RIDE,” Gomes said. “I think it is necessary, but I think cost is also very important.”

Gomes said the next step is to come up with options, including where to house Pre-K come Sept. 2020. He said the district will also be looking into the costs associated with each option.

He said the district is looking to add a bond question on the November 2020 ballot to get additional funding for the various school projects that lie ahead.

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