$150 Million School Construction Bond Passes

by | Nov 7, 2023

Residents voted in favor of the project by 69%

East Greenwich voters approved the $150 million school construction project in a 1,567 to 696 vote Tuesday. 

The project calls for a new school building at Frenchtown Elementary and a renovation and addition or new building at Hanaford Elementary, with both schools transitioning to a 1-5 grade level structure. Meadowbrook and the high school will receive renovations, while Eldredge will be closed as a school.

Officials have discussed making Meadowbrook a pre-K-K center and targeting the locker rooms, special education area, and auditorium at the high school. However, final plans have not been set.

The flexible language of the bond question was meant to allow for the bond money to be used in various ways, according to officials, including shifting money from one project to another with potentially more money for the high school. 

“I’m so grateful for everyone who voted today,” said School Committee Chair Alyson Powell, who is also co-chair of the School Building Committee. “We had an amazing turnout for a special election. I’m very excited to move forward with this project because it is a wonderful opportunity for East Greenwich now and well into the future.“

A total of 2,263 votes were cast.

The passage of the bond keeps EG in contention to receive up to an additional 20 percent of reimbursement from the state for the project. Currently, the state will pick up 35 percent of the $150 million. However, if EG achieves certain construction criteria, the town will be awarded up to an additional 20 percent in 5 percent increments. The bonus money expires in June 2024 for towns without resident approval via a successful referendum.

Voting was temporarily halted Tuesday morning when construction debris from the basement at the Swift Community Center tripped an alarm, resulting in first responders needing to shut it off. Voting resumed 10 minutes later.

“It’s great that our community showed up to support our legacy of excellent schools,” said Town Council President and member of the School Building Committee Mark Schwager. “That’s what makes our town a dynamic community. Great schools are part of the core of East Greenwich.” 

Not all residents supported the plan. Many have voiced concerns about an increase in taxes, possible damage to homes due to construction, not enough money being allocated to the high school, and the shuttering of Eldredge.

“Approval of the bond tonight is the next step in a long process,” Schwager said, noting that things like architectural designs will be discussed over the next year. When asked if those who did not approve the plan would be able to have input, Schwager said, “There will be an opportunity to continue to modify the project,” adding, “there will be a lot of public discussion about that.”

With the bond passed, the next deadline for the town is the stage II filing on or before February 15. This requires the town to submit detailed drawings and estimates to the Rhode Island Department of Education. Stage II requires the town to submit detailed drawings and estimates to the R.I. Department of Education.

The next School Building Committee meeting is on Friday, Nov. 10, at 11 a.m. at Cole Middle School.

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November 7, 2023 9:40 pm


The voters of EG who just handed a blank check to ruin our local public education system by building pre-K services that aren’t mandated (so long local small business like Little Red Hen, Happy Hearts, and SweetPeas), destroying our neighborhood schools (we could build a new school at Eldredge!), and creating even more traffic issues on Frenchtown should be reminded these are the same Town Councilors and and School Committee members who disregarded a federal policy, creating headaches for working families and simply messed up by making Monday the recognized Veterans Day Holiday. Simple education clearly shows that when a federal holiday lands on a Saturday, the “day off” is the preceding Friday. The School Committee yet again demonstrates a woefully poor attention to detail. Our tax dollars deserve better.

November 8, 2023 12:52 pm
Reply to  Joe

I completely agree that the placement of the school holiday on Monday in discordance with the observed Federal holiday has caused a major headache for working parents and was a mistake that should not have been made. What that issue has to do with the school bond issue is exactly — nothing. Generating a more robust pre-k program than what is already in existence (if indeed that is the plan) will only bolster the PUBLIC education system in EG, hardly ruin it. Private programs with extended hours will likely continue to be needed — for those who can afford them. East Greenwich in general has a significant problem with providing affordable care outside of school hours, I hardly think any of the private care facilities will be impacted by this plan at all. I fail to understand the logic around ‘destroying neighborhood schools’, particularly when you seemingly propose to demolish Eldredge instead — that is simply trading one demo/rebuild for another. Our tax dollars deserve to be spent as economically as possible, improving our schools when we have the chance to see significant financial assistance from the state seems to fit that bill.

November 8, 2023 4:03 pm
Reply to  ted

For some reason Rhode Island is observing Veterans Day on Monday, November 13th. Other school districts including North Kingstown, Barrington, and Providence also have Monday off. This isn’t an East Greenwich mistake.

November 8, 2023 2:27 pm
Reply to  Joe

As to the day of observance for Veterans Day, there is a federal recommendation that does not need to be followed by the state: https://department.va.gov/veterans-day/facts-and-information/

Further, the RI state government is taking the Monday off: https://www.sos.ri.gov/divisions/civics-and-education/reference-desk/ri-state-holidays

Lastly, the RI Dept of Education, on their statewide calendar, has the Monday off: https://ride.ri.gov/sites/g/files/xkgbur806/files/2023-06/2023-2024RIDESchoolCalendar062123.pdf

Be mad at the state government, be mad at RIDE, but I hardly think being mad at our school committee for following the conventions of the overarching organizations is warranted.

Ray Riccio
Ray Riccio
November 8, 2023 8:17 am

Am I reading this right? I believe there are close to 11,000 registered voters in EG?
Total votes cast not even 2,300?
Are there any demographics etc which can be supplied with such a dismal turnout? If correct the voters have no one to blame but themselves.

November 8, 2023 3:57 pm
Reply to  Ray Riccio

EG has had a few special elections over the past several years and this one had the highest turnout of all of them. I agree that it’s unfortunate that more don’t vote, but this election definitely wasn’t an anomaly.

2021 School Committee special election: 1979 voters
2019 $5 million bond: 1586 voters
2016 School Committee: 621 voters

November 9, 2023 8:22 am
Reply to  Ray Riccio

This is what voter turnout looks like these days – even in Presidential elections years RI doesn’t crack 65% turnout, and in off years it’s generally very low, especially when no actual seats are on the ballot. Know what boosts voting? Universal mail ballots. Oregon has them and they routinely hit 85%+ turnout, which rivals the world’s most participatory democracies.

People also have to believe change is possible.

Ray Riccio
Ray Riccio
November 9, 2023 4:43 pm
Reply to  Doug

Whether an individual chooses to vote or not change is inevitable.

Hamilton stated “if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

W.C. Fields stated “I never vote for anyone. I always vote against.”

Alison Turner
Alison Turner
November 16, 2023 6:38 am

I live near Eldredge and am sad it will be shuttered as a school. I’m sure it makes sense but the school is part of the fabric of the neighborhood. Hill and Harbor is a great place to live and a neighborhood like this is rare these days. I’ll keep an open mind about the changes.


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