The #MiddletownRI Town Council learns Monday night that more costs of school bond projects are eligible for state reimbursements, meaning a new middle-high school proposal would cost local taxpayers less. Visit https://mdl.town/NewSchool for more.
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ELIGIBLE PROJECT COSTS RISE FOR NEW SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (NOVEMBER 6, 2023) – On the eve of a special election for a new middle-high school, the Town Council got some outstanding news about the cost of the proposed building.
During his regular school status briefing Monday night in Town Hall, Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown told local leaders that an additional 6 percent of the project costs were now eligible for state reimbursements.
That potentially decreases the amount of money Middletown would be responsible for the project, meaning more in savings to local taxpayers should the bond be approved. The new reimbursements would also lower the tax impact on residents to well less than $2 a day.
“Obviously, this is very good news for Middletown and the other impacted communities across the state which are looking to take advantage of these one-in-a-lifetime state reimbursements,” Brown said. “For the sake of transparency, we wanted to make sure everyone was aware of this before they head to the polls tomorrow and vote in our special election.”
After Brown’s briefing, council President Paul M. Rodrigues offered genuine thanks to his fellow council members for their work, Brown and his team along with the School Building Committee, which held close to 100 meetings on the proposed school.
Regardless of what happens, Rodrigues said it was an impressive effort and the town clearly worked hard to get the most reliable, accurate information into the hands of voters.
He also noted that communities across the state like Middletown were looking to capitalize on the state reimbursements, whether it was Barrington, North Kingstown, Warren and others.
“At the end of the day, we need to remain one community,” Rodrigues said. “Regardless if it happens (the bond passes) or it doesn’t happen, we cannot have a divided community and that’s what’s important. We need to stay focused on what’s best for Middletown…the problem’s not going away.”
The final day for residents to vote is Tuesday. Polls are open at 7 am-8 pm. Please visit https://mdl.town/Vote for more and to find your polling location.
According to figures Monday from the Rhode Island Secretary of State, Middletown has already had outstanding voter turnout so far.
Based on the latest numbers, close to 1,400 ballots have been cast, the most in the state behind North Kingstown and East Providence. During a typical off year special election, local officials have said Middletown gets about a 10 percent turnout — or 1,500 votes.
“The big thing here is that everyone votes,” Brown said. “This is an important project for our schools — and our entire community. The way this is envisioned, this truly impacts everyone in Middletown from our youngest residents to new parents, our business community, the Navy and so many more. It’s been an exciting process to be a part of and I’m proud of the plans our School Building Committee has put forward."
The next School Building Committee meeting is Wednesday at 5 pm from the basement meeting room of the Oliphant Administration Building, 26 Oliphant Lane.
According to the current timeline, groundbreaking for the project is the spring of 2025, with construction expected to take two years.
The School Building Committee contracted with Colliers International to oversee the project, with HMFH and DBVW architectural firms providing assistance. CIVIC was also brought in to make sure the educational needs of local students and teachers drive the design of the school.
Plans from the designers show the 200,000-square-foot building built just north of Gaudet Middle School on open property. The way it’s designed, there will be unique entrances to the middle school and high school. The student populations will be completely separated, but have access to a 12,000-square-foot gymnasium, cafeterias, an auditorium and other state-of-the-art amenities.
A November 2021 study from DBVW indicated approximately $190 million in repairs were needed to the district’s existing four school buildings before a ceiling or wall were opened, spurring calls for a new school. Those findings are available at https://mdl.town/DBVW. The state came back earlier this year and reaffirmed those details. Go to https://mdl.town/FCI online to check that report.
Those working on the project have stressed the new building must represent Middletown and showcase the immense pride here. The way the school is laid out, it strives towards a “Net Zero Energy-ready” building guaranteeing fresh air, daylight and quality views in at least 90 percent of all occupied spaces and sustainability throughout.
With the middle-high school as the showpiece, the bond opens the door to converting Forest Avenue School into a pre kindergarten through first grade early learning center. The plan also has the existing Middletown High School being renovated and transformed into a grade two to five learning center along with offices for school administrative and maintenance staff.
Once construction and renovations wrap up, Gaudet will be torn down to make way for new, better athletic fields to replace the ones lost during the new school construction.
Affordable housing is envisioned for the former Oliphant School property at 26 Oliphant Lane, now used for school administrative offices and tee ball. The building now home to Aquidneck School on Reservoir Road would also be shuttered and replaced by a community center, plans funded through grants and other non-tax dollars.
For more, visit https://mdl.town/NewSchool online. Have questions? Check out https://mdl.town/NewSchoolQA online.
Document Link: https://www.middletownri.com/DocumentCenter/View/9790/NYCU-61