Officials Briefed on School Bond Plans for HS

by | Jan 11, 2024

Above: Philip Conte of StudioJAED explains construction and renovation plans for the high school at the Jan. 10, 2024, School Building Committee meeting.

Immediate high school needs to be addressed at meeting next week

Maintenance issues and the Rhode Island Department of Education Stage 2 plan for East Greenwich High School were the main focus of Wednesday night’s School Building Committee meeting.

While Philip Conte, president and CEO of the architecture firm StudioJAED, said that the Stage 2 planning for the elementary schools was “ongoing,” he focused on three main areas of the high school that could be part of the Stage 2 RIDE proposal

Those are:

  • A roughly 10,357 two-story addition in the courtyard with seven new classrooms and one extended learning area. Rough estimated cost: $10.5 million.
  • Renovations to athletic facilities, locker rooms, and art and life skills classrooms. Rough estimated cost: $14.1 million.
  • Remaining capital improvements, which include things from renovating the auditorium and cafeteria to HVAC systems. Rough estimated cost: $15 million.

Conte explained that the estimated totals were “conservative,” using hard costs plus soft costs, contingencies, and escalations “totaling up to 35 percent.” 

The escalation is due in part to the “incredible amount of school construction in Rhode Island” anticipated over the next few years, Conte explained. Citing the “limited labor pool,” he said there would be a “premium attached to every community and every project for the next several years.”

While the total of these projects is beyond the $30 million officials have discussed allotting for the high school, Conte explained, “Our goal right now is to maximize your reimbursement and make the submission.” Therefore, even if RIDE approves funding for all the projects submitted, the town is not obligated to enact those plans but will have the knowledge that RIDE would or would not reimburse those plans if pursued. 

“This sounds great,” said community member Michael Norris, saying it would “give the kids an environment they deserve.” However, he pointed out, “some of these [maintenance] things I don’t think can wait and need to be remediated now.” 

When it comes to immediate needs at the high school, Bob Wilmarth, EGSD director of facilities, said, “I think we’re actively working to remediate many issues at the high school.”

According to an email from EGHS principal Patricia Page over the weekend, the next EGHS PTG meeting will have a “building update,” with Wilmarth attending the meeting virtually. The meeting will take place at the high school library at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17. 

“We still have a lot to do,” said Town Councilor Renu Englehart, mentioning decisions officials must make, such as Hanford being an addition/renovation or new build. “I’m a little concerned about our timeline here.”

Both the School Committee and Town Council will need to approve the Stage 2 plan prior to the submission deadline of Feb. 15.

The School Building Committee will meet next at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18, at Swift Community Center. 

For previous stories about school construction, find our landing page HERE.

Andrew Belfry is a freelance reporter covering EG schools and police. He lives in town with his wife and two kids. Send him comments and tips at [email protected].

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