EG-SC Approves Stage 2 Submission

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by Andrew Belfry | Jan 31, 2024 | eastgreenwichnews.com

Vote comes after the Town Council voted to deny the submission Monday

On Wednesday, all seven members of the East Greenwich School Committee voted unanimously to approve the stage 2 plan of the $150 million school construction project and submit it to the Department of Education (RIDE) prior to the Feb. 15 deadline.

The vote comes days after the EG Town Council voted down the same proposal after a recent Declaratory Order Request from Supt. Brian Ricca came to light requesting RIDE give the School Committee “ultimate control” over the school construction project.

If the Town Council does not approve the stage 2 submission by the February deadline, EG will lose out on up to 20 percent in bonus reimbursing funds from RIDE. The next opportunity to submit a stage 2 proposal would be Sept. 15. 

Before taking the vote, School Committee Vice Chair Nicole Bucka asked questions about the equity between an addition and renovation at Hanaford and a new build at Frenchtown. “I don’t want to see any haves and have-nots,” she said.

As previously reported, Bob Wilmarth, director of facilities,said, “Almost all of Hanaford gets knocked down” under the current understanding of the project, which could result in an almost newly built Hanaford on its existing site. 

Tim Munoz, School Committee and School Building Committee member addressed the question of equity among elementary schools when he said, “I think the move from stage 2 to stage 3 is where equity moves from desire and a high-level concept to very, very specific things.” 

Osterman reminded the group that the stage 2 proposal is not meant to provide final schematics or placements of buildings. Rather, this proposal would include a list of projects that RIDE would review and inform the town if they would likely be reimbursable. 

Some of the projects and aspects of these projects in the stage 2 submission are unrelated to the $150 million school construction plan (including repairs), which could potentially push the dollar amount above what the voters agreed to bond for. The additional projects being included in stage 2 but not the $150 million construction project would allow the School Committee to know if RIDE would be willing to reimburse other projects in the future.

Town Councilor Mike Donegan raised a concern via Zoom at Wednesday’s meeting that the “current estimates” might not “line up with the $150 [million]” project. Donegan asked for the “actual numbers.”

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