$300 million in Infrastructure Improvements to Providence Public Schools
August 18, 2020
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined Council President Sabina Matos, Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, Providence Public School Superintendent Harrison Peters, former Providence Mayor Joseph R. Paolino Jr., and President and Chief Executive Officer of StudioJAED Philip Conte to announce an amended School Capital Plan, building on the City’s historic investments in school infrastructure and commitment to creating innovative and welcoming learning spaces for Providence youth. The announcement included the donation of the former St. Joseph’s Hospital building, which will be used as a transitional education space for the District before becoming Providence’s newest Pre-K through Grade 8 school.
“Our school buildings have been and remain a top priority, even throughout these uncertain times,” said Mayor Elorza. “We need to build schools of the future, that are built to our students’ needs and that support multiple learning methods and approaches. I’m grateful to all of the partners who have come together to make this plan and these projects possible, ensuring that our students learn in spaces that truly inspire them.”
The amended plan outlines $300 million in infrastructure improvements to Providence Public Schools, ensuring these learning facilities are welcoming to students and address the needs of our students. Of these funds, an estimated over $16 million will focus on student-centric innovations and high impact visual enhancements, including creating spaces that support multiple learning methods and improving the appearance of facilities. This plan builds off the $20 million in repairs made last spring and summer to critical infrastructure and works toward Mayor Elorza’s 2017 commitment to invest $400 million in school spaces over the next decade. If necessary, the City will submit an additional “Necessity of School Construction” application for a Spring 2021 approval. A list of projects can be found here.
“As President of the City Council, I have been supportive of overhauling our schools and transforming them into learning spaces worthy of our families. This investment in our facilities is a step in the right direction in ensuring that learning occurs in spaces that are not only warm, safe, and dry, but also nurturing,” stated City Council President Sabina Matos.
To support these enhancements and future repairs made to facilities across the city, the former St. Joseph’s Hospital, generously donated by former Providence Mayor Joseph R. Paolino Jr., will be used as a transitional education space for students. Upon the completion of these projects, the facility will become the District’s newest Pre-K through Grade 8 school. The approximately seven-acre site located at 21 Peace Street consists of multiple buildings, with about half of them being donated to the City at a value of more than $7 million. The donated property includes the East Building, the Chapel, and the northern parking lot, which will be reimagined as learning spaces and utilized for parking as well as recreation by the new school. The City has budgeted $75 million towards improvements of this facility in the School Capital Plan.
“Serving as the Mayor of Providence was the greatest honor of my life. But to me, service doesn’t end when you leave office,” Paolino said. “As a Providence resident, business leader, parent, and now grandparent, I know that the greatest investment we can make in our city’s future is in our children. This donation will provide our kids with a state-of-the-art facility where they can learn and thrive, and it will transform Broad Street forever. I am grateful to Mayor Elorza and Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris for facilitating this donation and to Commissioner Infante-Green for her vision in creating a better educational environment for all students in Rhode Island.”
In partnership with the District, building 21st-century learning environments plays a critical role in the successful implementation of the Providence Turnaround Plan. In addition to this major Pre-K through 8 investment, there are several other exciting projects outlined in the amended plan including:
- Windmill Street School (110 Paul Street, $30,500,000): This school site will be renovated to serve as swing space by the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year and for the next several years. After use as swing space, the goal is for the facility to be transitioned into a dedicated school facility. The District will continue to evaluate long-term educational programming that will be suitable for this space.
- Spaziano Elementary and Spaziano Annex (85 Laurel Hill Road, $24,043,078): In alignment with moving towards Pre-K to 8 stand-alone facilities or hubs throughout the District, Spaziano Elementary and the Spaziano Annex will be renovated to reflect updated goals and plans. Spaziano Annex will be rebuilt to be nearly double its size to support this vision, going from 17,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet.
- Carl G. Lauro (99 Kenyon Street, $34,000,000 ): In alignment with moving towards Pre-K to 8 stand-alone facilities or hubs throughout the district, Carl Lauro, a historic landmark, will be renovated to be better utilized by the existing school community.
- Classical High School (770 Westminster Street, $25,250,908): Building off of the renovations that were recently completed in the science and math wing of the complex, the school will see significant improvements addressing major system deficiencies and investing over $3 million in student-centric innovations and high impact visual enhancements.
“We must move across all fronts to transform the Providence schools and deliver for the students and families of this city, and that includes the spaces where learning takes place,” said Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “The generosity of Mayor Paolino is a testament to his commitment to the community, and I look forward to turning this building into a space where educational excellence becomes routine. I also look forward to working with Mayor Elorza and city leaders as we advance a building plan that provides the foundation for real and lasting change for generations of Providence students.”
The approval of the School Capital Plan coupled with unprecedented investments in Providence’s Capital Improvement Plan marks transformative investments in the city’s infrastructure. Since the plan’s original submission and throughout 2019, school buildings have seen structural repairs, improvements to the exterior of buildings, fire code improvements, security enhancements, mechanical and electrical maintenance, and continued investments in high impact enhancement projects and student-centric innovations. Many of the investments realized have been informed by the robust, year-long All In: Our Learning Spaces community engagement process, led by experts at StudioJAED in late 2017.
“Transforming our schools is a community effort, and former Mayor Paolino’s actions today set an incredibly high bar for giving back to the community,” said Harrison Peters, superintendent of Providence Public Schools. “The district will be working with the community to gain your input into the design process for this building and other upcoming capital projects because all of us have roles to play in turning around Providence Public Schools.
Projects included in the $20 million bond as well as the School Capital Plan can be found on the All In: Our School Facilities interactive map.