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School Committee OKs $79.9M School Repair Bond

[CREDIT: File Photo] Warwick Veterans Jr. High School at 2401 W Shore Road.

[CREDIT: File Photo] Warwick Veterans Jr. High School at 2401 W Shore Road.
[CREDIT: File Photo] Warwick Veterans Jr. High School at 2401 W Shore Road.
WARWICK, RI— The Warwick School Committee approved a Phase II Capital Bond Project totaling $79,988,757 for school building repairs Tuesday night at Warwick Veterans Middle School.

Warwick Schools Finance DirectorAnthony Ferrucci, chairman of the building committee, noted the $79.9 million capital project recommendation is “significantly higher than what was previously communicated; the most significant bulk of the increase is due to the new inclusion of two HVAC systems, one at Winman Middle School and one at Tollgate High School. In all previous reports, it was stated that these two schools (the newest buildings in Warwick) did not need significant HVAC work.”

Committee member David Testa expressed concern about obtaining the finances necessary to repair the schools.

“We need all the options open,” said Testa. “We are looking to try to protect ourselves.”

Committee chairwoman Karen Bachus said the time is right to address the conditions of the schools and make improvements, including attention to school playgrounds.

“I do want playgrounds where there are no playgrounds right now,” Bachus said.

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The committee also approved the Phase I Capital Bond Project.

Last January, the school committee worked with the City Council to release $6.1 million from the taxpayer’s approved $40 million bond authorization. Those funds are dedicated to projects undertaken in the summer of 2019 as well as to pay for designing projects that are to be sent out to bid, then contracted and worked on over the summer of 2020, Ferrucci said.

“Based on the projects identified in this report, the Building Committee needs $9,911,942 to be released from the $40 million bond authorization,” Ferrucci said, “Of this $9.9 million, $2.5 million is soft costs for projects to be undertaken in the summer of 2021 thru the spring 2022.”

Factored into the $2.5 Million, are soft costs for Pilgrim High School’s HVAC system. Starting next year, designs for a Pilgrim High School HVAC system are planned to begin with bidding and construction starting in the summer of 2021.

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A new high school is also a possibility. The district is going out to bid for an educational planner to explore the option, which Superintendent Phil Thornton said was a “necessary step.” Thornton mentioned, and the committee approved, the idea of a planner to investigate a new high school during the Sept. 24 committee meeting.

Ferrucci also told the committee that the state has a capital program provided on a “pay as-you-go” basis.

The state has already approved $3,255,837 to be provided to the school department from this program. Of this amount, $2,982,000 is attributed to Bond Funded Projects with the balance being assigned to Capital Reserve Funded Projects.

Ferrucci said the proposal will be brought to the city council in November.

Joe Siegel
Author: Joe Siegel

Joe Siegel is a regular contributing writer for WarwickPost.com. His reporting has appeared in The Sun Chronicle in Attleboro and EDGE.