Editor’s Note: We have clarified Nicole’s statements regarding potential reimbursement to the town in the third paragraph. We regret fostering confusion. As of now, East Greenwich will continue to be eligible for a base reimbursement, which at present is 35 percent of RIDE-approved construction costs.
This is not a formal communication of the East Greenwich School Committee. – N.B.
East Greenwich prides itself on excellence. In this fall’s special referendum election, we have an opportunity to enhance that legacy. As a career educator, I will tell you that I’ve never before (and likely never will again) seen an opportunity like this one – to revitalize our aging school buildings into modern hubs of learning with the state reimbursing half the cost.
Our school buildings are overcrowded at the elementary level. This directly impacts the quality of education we offer, limiting our ability to meet diverse student needs and hindering innovative approaches due to space constraints. Additionally, decades of deferred maintenance have taken a toll on the structural integrity of five of the six school buildings in the East Greenwich School District. These issues are well documented and will need to be addressed at some point.
What makes this fall’s bond opportunity unique is the state’s commitment to reimburse up to 55 percent of the costs. This isn’t just an offer; it’s a lifeline. A lifeline offered to all Rhode Island communities with many taking advantage of it. With a base reimbursement of 35 percent and an additional 20 percent available through various bonus categories, this is an unprecedented chance for our community to modernize its school infrastructure sharing the financial burden with the state. The alternative? Delaying this investment means our community could bear the full cost in the future. Why shoulder most of the cost when we have the chance to invest with the state covering half?
Our superintendent, Brian Ricca, vividly painted a picture at this spring’s community forums. He asked that community members close their eyes and recall their first car – the cassette players, manual locks, and window crank. Then, he said, think about your car today. Or how about your first phone? Was it a rotary? Stationary on a wall or on a table? Again, how does that compare with the phone you have now in your pocket? Our school buildings, five of which are older than those nostalgic memories, are at best outdated and at worst approaching obsolescence. The world has moved forward, and we have an opportunity to do the same for our education system.
If you are concerned about your taxes, please enter your address in the Bond Financial Impact by Property webpage created by Dr. Eugene Quinn of the East Greenwich School Committee. You will see a transparent breakdown of the impact for years to come. Remember, though, if we don’t pass this bond – the needed repairs and updates to our buildings still remain to be addressed entirely on your local tax dollars. If you still have questions, attend the School Construction Bond Forum presented by EG News and the EG Chamber on Oct. 18, from 7 to 8 p.m. at New England Institute of Technology.
Please do not sit this election out. We cannot afford to let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity slip through our fingers. It’s not just about updating facilities; it’s about investing in the future of our children and the prosperity of our community.
As we cast our votes this fall, please join me in our commitment to providing the best possible education for our children. Early voting begins on Oct. 18. Vote yes on the school bond, ensuring that East Greenwich continues to be a beacon of educational excellence for generations to come.
Nicole Bucka is vice chair of the EG School Committee