Metro

Providence schools to undergo renovations

City Council proposes repairs, routine maintenance for schools to promote better learning environments

By
Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The City Council pledged last week to develop a plan to repair Providence school buildings “to provide students with educational facilities that are warm, safe, dry and conducive to learning,” according to a resolution sponsored by City Council President and mayoral candidate Michael Solomon.

The council proposes “immediate, short-term investment” in building repairs and technology upgrades, as well as a “long-term, multi-phased capital improvement initiative” for public schools, according to the resolution. Schools must propose these repairs before July 1.

“This plan will create first-rate learning environments for students and teachers. And this plan will create 2,000 jobs for people in the community,” Solomon wrote in his “Rebuilding Providence” plan, which he launched last week as part of his mayoral campaign platform.

Many Providence school buildings lack routine maintenance, which “doesn’t create an atmosphere for kids that shows that we value them,” said Councilman Samuel Zurier.

Solomon’s plan for a $250 million investment is just a start, Zurier said, adding that the repairs and improvements currently needed would realistically cost about $700 million to $800 million.

The problems with school buildings in the city include peeling paint, leaky roofs, worn stair treads, poor ventilation, mold issues, bowed floors and broken glass, said Maribeth Calabro, president of the Providence Teachers Union. Many facilities also lack Wi-Fi access due to structural problems, which leads to inequity due to technology resources, Calabro added.

There are many buildings with outdated facilities, Zurier said, adding that some school labs are not compatible with required state science programs.

“Kids are going into ‘sick buildings,’ where the air quality is not what it should be,” Calabro said. This can lead to respiratory illnesses, aggravated allergies and absenteeism for both teachers and students, she added.

Inadequate school buildings are also linked to a lack of achievement, Calabro said. With run-down schools, “how can (students) have hope that things will be better for them?”