Updated: Apr 14
Many of the talking points used by supporters of the facility plan are easily countered if you know the truth. That’s what we are here for. Below you will find information to help navigate these issues if they come up in conversation.
$42.5 million in once in a generation state aid for $85 million in required improvements.
There is just so much to unpack here, so let’s peel back the onion. $42.5 million is the maximum reimbursement we could qualify for, but a portion, about $12.5 million, is only determined at the end of the construction project. We are entitled to a 35% share (about $30M ) anytime we submit a proposal.
Additionally, the only way the district qualifies for the full amount is to submit all work as one project, meaning that there will be no reimbursement until the 2025-26 school year at the earliest. The town will have to pay all debt service for the first 5 years before any potential reimbursement is provided.
As far as the $85 million in required updates, the 2017 Jacobs report details $89 million in recommended updates and the current plan proposes to spend $92 million. Unfortunately, this plan is misaligned, spending $30M more than recommended at the high school and $30M less than recommended at the elementary schools. At the completion of this project there will still be tens of millions in recommended renovations to address.
This is the only chance to receive our share of the $250M state bond. If we pass some other district will get OUR MONEY
There is a common misconception that the incentive bonuses (the $12.5 million from above) comes from the $250 million bond approved statewide in 2018. This is false. That money provides up-front reimbursement (which comes out of the normal 35% share). As of January, after 4 rounds of applications, the state still has approximately 80M of the original $250M amount available. There is no connection between the state bond issue and the bonus incentives And every reason to believe we will be able to qualify for up-front financing whenever we submit a proposal.
Community Involvement Since Day 1.
Community involvement was in fact a big part of this project up until November of 2018. Since then, the plan has been through at least 3 major changes without any community input or visioning. The district now takes credit for the early visioning that is completely unrelated to the current plan. The district also claims that the community was involved more recently in the form of a handpicked visioning group consisting mostly of district employees, with only 3 handpicked community members. It is laughable to consider this as community engagement.
Curtis Corner Can handle up to 1200 students
One of the major unknowns in any facility plan is how do we deal with unexpected contingencies. What happens if enrollment suddenly surges and the high school population swells beyond the 864 student maximum capacity of the planned building. Supporters of the plan often claim that the building can handle 1200 students. This misconception comes from a 2019 Q and A regarding the construction of a brand new (e.g. 2-story) HS at the Curtis corner site. The existing CC structure cannot handle a 2nd floor, and there is no room to expand the footprint of the building for future additions without risking encountering ledge and wetlands. The Curtis Corner plan is limited to no more than approximately 900 students. If we suddenly start to attract more students, we will very quickly run out of space.
It has recently been claimed that the Curtis Corner site offers the opportunity for an intergenerational campus in which young and old can interact and share the fields and adjacent park. such a scenario would be a security nightmare. Would you be comfortable allowing anyone to be on school property during the school day?? Of course not. Community parking and use of recreational space will be limited to non school hours.
If we pass on this plan, nothing will happen
This is probably the most common talking point you will encounter. It is completely up to us as to whether a new plan can rise from the ashes. The superintendent, to her credit, has stated numerous times, including in a Narraganset Times article from March 22, that she will work on an alternative plan if the bond fails: "If we have to go back there and figure it out, we’ll go back and figure it out,” Savastano said. “If that’s what the community says they want, we’ll go back and figure it out.” Luckily, we have a template for a potential replacement. The original community visioning yielded a community supported plan that was abandoned for political reasons. We could use that plan as a starting point and incorporate what we have learned since. With the community working together we can come up with a good solution that has more support.
RIDE rejected the first plan because of Columbia Street
While RIDE's response to our February 2019 application does reference confusion with the size of Columbia Street, it does not claim the building itself as the reason for rejection. The rejection was a result of missing pieces of the plan, most critically a lack of educational justification for building decisions. The missing pieces and errors throughout the application were the result of an abrupt change of direction just 2 months prior to the application deadline. The process was so rushed that no elected representative had a
chance to review the proposal before approving its release.
After receiving the rejection letter, our school building committee continued to revise the Columbia Street plans for 7 months before ultimately turning attention to the Curtis Corner site. During that time options were presented for further reducing the footprint of Columbia Street to better align with RIDE space standards. There was no indication during that time that RIDE would not support a Columbia Street application. In fact, when visiting a Building Committee meeting, RIDE representatives assured us that their rejection was not site contingent.
Please Vote NO on the $85 Million Bond. Learn how and where to vote at www.stopthisplan.com