Wherefore Art Thou $30 Million

Over the past few weeks, a new talking point has emerged from the school district, amplified by the superintendent, school committee chair, and former members and spread like wildfire on social media. it goes something like this ...

”If we keep the high school at Columbia Street, we will have $30 million in repairs to do before we even get to things that benefit the students”

It would be a powerful argument for moving to Curtis Corner, if it weren't completely false. We’ll explain why, but as you read, consider this entire episode as a metaphor for how this facility process has progressed. RGB makes a

huge error, the district fails to provide oversight, and then parrots the false information in a brazen attempt to sell a lemon of a plan to the community.

The claim that $30 million in basic repairs like roofs and windows is needed at Columbia Street comes from this chart created By RGB, supposedly showing the current cost of the items listed in RIDE’s Jacobs report of the condition of our facilities.

Foreshadow Alert: Take particular notice of the amount for priority 3 items at the High School (19M)...

This chart does indeed show that the total of priority 1-3 items at Columbia Street is approximately $30 million. But before we go announcing this to the entire community at every chance we get while claiming everyone else is spreading ”misinformation”, let’s just go check the Jacobs report, shall we?

Above is the breakdown of priority 1-5 items by system for the current high school. You might notice that the priority 3 total is $3.1 million, not $19M. Now, we understand that the Jacobs report is 4 years old, but 600% appreciation is not very likely, especially when no other numbers changed more than about 10%. So where oh where did that $19M figure come from???

Go ahead and take a second look at the Jacob’s report chart. Look toward the bottom right at the total for ALL priority 1-5 items for Columbia Street. Hmmm its $19M, what a coincidence.

Is it possible that RGB just copied from the wrong column?? If you have been paying any attention at all the last 4 years, your response should be “YES, yes of course it’s completely possible, nay likely!!“ This is the architect who included signed documents from Westerly with our application materials, after all.

But this is not all their fault. Our building Committee completely failed to provide necessary oversight. It was obvious to anyone paying attention the first time this $30M number appeared that it was ludicrous. The original facility plan called for spending $30M at Columbia Street, including many educational enhancements and new spaces. Did this incredible claim raise a red flag for ANY BUILDING COMMITTEE MEMBER??? How about our Owners Project Manager (OPM) Perigrine. Is anyone awake at the switch? Apparently not.

On Tuesday, May 4th (tomorrow!!) we will be voting on whether or not we trust this district to effectively manage an $85+ million project. Remember, this is the same district leadership who “managed” the Peace Dale parking lot, which was 40% over budget and a year late. This is the same leadership who time and again has approved documents containing embarrassing errors and outright falsehoods, oftentimes without even reading them before voting.

Do you trust them to keep this huge multi-year 6 building project on budget? Would you like to buy a bridge? I’ve got a beautiful one in Brooklyn.

Vote No on May 4th and STOP THIS PLAN!

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