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$125 Million School Construction Bond Referendum Approved by Providence City Council for Voter Consideration

Bond referendum supporting significant renovations, new school will be considered by voters in November

PROVIDENCE, RI — Today State and City of Providence officials lauded the Providence City Council’s passage of a $125 million school construction bond referendum that will be considered by voters on November 8, 2022. The proposal for the bond was presented by the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s School Building Authority (SBA) and will support significant renovations to school buildings across the capital city and help build a new school.

“Modern, welcoming schools positively impact students’ learning and academic achievement,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Addressing school facility needs in the capital city is a priority and it’s exciting that Providence voters will have the ability to consider a worthwhile investment that will benefit future generations of students.”

“RIDE is committed to continuing to partner with Providence stakeholders to make sure that all students can learn and thrive in 21st Century learning spaces,” said Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “The approval of this referendum is a good step forward that will enable voters to take up additional needed investments in school facilities. While we have made great progress in modernizing Providence Public Schools, we know that more work is needed, and we will continue to push for the resources to get it done.”

Pending voter approval of the bond, Providence will receive at least 80% state reimbursement. The final rate will be determined by the district’s base reimbursement rate at the time of approval – which is set by the General Assembly annually, availability of housing aid bonuses, and the types of projects that are selected.

“For too many decades, we have failed generations of Providence students, faculty and families who have been forced to learn in buildings that are literally falling apart around them. That is why five years ago, we underwent an extensive community visioning process that prepared us to develop a master plan for our school buildings," said Mayor Jorge Elorza. "Over the past few months, we have broken ground on some of these investments, including the Narducci Learning Center and the Spaziano Elementary School Annex, but we know that our families deserve even more. Tonight, I am excited to stand with the City Council in supporting a $125 million investment through a bond referendum to continue improvements to school facilities, because we believe the greatest investments we can make for the future of our city are those that directly support our youth.”

The Providence School Building Committee, which is composed of municipal representatives, City Council members, the school department, and community members, will prioritize how to best use these funds over the next few years.

“Providence students deserve to learn in clean and safe school buildings. That’s why I fully support making this investment in our school infrastructure, but ultimately, we’re investing in our youth,” said Council President John Igliozzi. “By passing this bond referendum, the Council now places the decision into the hands of Providence residents when they go to vote this fall.”

The $125 million bond would support extensive ongoing efforts to modernize Providence Public Schools. Phase 1 of major improvements to Providence Public Schools facilities which includes renovations at Spaziano Elementary School Annex, the Narducci Learning Center - formerly Windmill Elementary School, and Classical and Hope High School, William D'Abate and Pleasant View Elementary Schools, is being supported by a $160 million referendum approved by Providence voters in 2018.

“Providence’s investment in school facilities over the past several years has gone a long way towards bringing our buildings into the 21st century,” said Superintendent Dr. Javier Montañez. “The many improvement projects underway are exciting for our staff, our students, and our community. But we’re fixing decades of neglect in our schools, and more needs to be done. This bond proposal is an important next step in building the district our students deserve.”

Providence Public Schools’ Phase II application, which was approved by the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education in May 2022, is backed by $146 million in funds including $140 million from a bond approved by Providence voters in 2020, and an additional $6 million in RIDE Facility Equity Initiative funds. Phase II projects are in the design and development phase and include the development of 21 Peace Street, a new Kizirian Elementary School, and new Spaziano Middle School.