News Flash

Town News and Updates

Posted on: February 8, 2024

Stage II Application For New School, Other Educational Improvements Approved

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This week, the Town Council & School Committee sign off on a Stage II submission to the state, the next step in the bid to build a new middle-high school and other exciting educational improvements in #MiddletownRI.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

CONTACT: Matt Sheley at (401) 842-6543 or msheley@middletownri.com

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STAGE II APPLICATION FOR NEW SCHOOL, 

OTHER EDUCATIONAL IMPROVEMENTS APPROVED

 

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (FEBRUARY 6, 2024) – Exciting improvements are “on time and on budget” for the Middletown school system.


At a meeting Monday night in Town Hall, the Town Council and School Committee signed off on a Stage II submission to the state Department of Education (RIDE) for the sweeping remake of the district’s buildings, grounds and more.

The move means plans for a new middle-high school north of Gaudet Middle School were progressing according to schedule. The same was true for a related proposal to turn the existing Middletown High School into a grade 2-5 learning academy and remaking Forest Avenue School into a pre-kindergarten-grade 1 early childhood center. 


“I’m really excited about what we’ve been able to accomplish and how the plan has really pulled together,” Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said. “Going into the election, there were some unknowns we acknowledged and our team has delivered on every one and more and we remain on time and on budget. It’s a good design and one I think we can all be really proud of.”


Like council President Paul M. Rodrigues, Vice President Thomas Welch said he was pleased the project remained firmly on schedule and everything was “on time and on budget.”

 

At the end of the discussion, Rodrigues said out of the process, he’d like to see Middletown become one of the best school districts anywhere — where it rightly belongs.


“I envision a finished project that looks really good (like the schools I visited in Massachusetts overseen by the project managers in Middletown)…” Rodrigues said. “We can’t have schools with the same (performance) results. We need to gauge ourselves in terms of the Top 10, Top 15 in the country. That’s where we need to be. That’s the goal. It’s nice to have a new building and all that, but it’s like buying a car and putting it in the same old garage. We need to lead the way.” 


The project — and its $190 million budget — were approved narrowly by voters last November during a special election. 


Since, the School Building Committee has been meeting in person bi-weekly to hone every aspect of the project. 


This includes the layout of the new middle-high school and placement of elevators, gymnasium, new auditorium and classrooms to how the renovations to the high school and Forest Avenue should be carried  out.


Members of the building board also have regular conversations with the project leads from Colliers International as well as HMFH architects and CIVIC educational planners, who are providing expertise as well.


All have said the goal is to offer the best schools — and more importantly education — for Middletown students and educators at the most reasonable price.


Towards that end, Derek Osterman, Colliers director of project management services, said as the design for the new middle-high school and related work continued to be honed, more details would be finalized. 


To view a copy of the executive summary of the Stage II report, visit https://www.middletownri.com/DocumentCenter/View/11083/Stage-II online. 


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Untitled design-4Importantly, CIVIC is in the process of reworking the district’s curriculum so it matches the needs of students prekindergarten through grade 12. 


The idea is that a clear, concise curriculum builds from grade to grade and produces well-rounded students who are ready for life after Middletown schools, whether that’s college, the military or the workforce.


By consolidating schools and closing Aquidneck School — which is planned as a community center — the aim is to better use existing resources and put more money into each classroom while providing students the services they need.


To better accomplish this, Manuel Cordero and staff with CIVIC have been meeting with administrators, teachers, staff and others to get a firm grasp on what’s working now and where improvements are necessary. 


Osterman and Cordero provide regular updates of their work to the Town Council and School Building Committee, which is guiding the entire effort. To learn more about the  building board, visit https://mdl.town/BuildingCommittee online.


Groundbreaking is planned for the spring of 2025, with a ribbon cutting slated for the fall of 2027.


As project lead, Osterman said he felt comfortable with where the project stood at this point. He and his team were on target to file the Stage II application with RIDE by the Feb. 15 deadline.


He also said everyone involved was well aware of missteps being made in other communities building new schools — and were working hard to avoid such blunders.


“Meetings with department heads and faculty have started to make sure their needs are truly met with how all of the spaces are outfitted,” Osterman said. “This is a very collaborative process because at the end of the day, it is your school.”


Document Link: https://www.middletownri.com/DocumentCenter/View/11104/NYCU-Phase-2


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