To the Editor:
Safe, warm and dry...words you probably have heard, or will hear, as this is the main point of the bond on this November's ballot. This bond was the result of the General Treasurer, and the School Building Task Force. The money will be made available to those districts that are prepared to begin work on what are called, “Shovel Ready projects.”
When RIDE commissioned Jacobs Engineering to look at each school in the state, we found Cranston buildings would need a total of $189 Million to just bring them up to standard. Cranston School Department and the School Committee examined this report and decided “up to standard” was not good enough for our students. We are attempting to teach 21st Century students in buildings built for mid-20th century teaching. Times have changed, so must the way and the place we teach our students.
Cranston Public Schools have taken the lead in Rhode Island. Cranston Public Schools have decided to look at each and every school and decide how to make the district conducive to teaching 21st century schools in 21st century spaces
Please know. Cranston Schools are safe, however they are old, tired and have, in many cases, outlived their useful lives.
The School Building Task Force has proposed investing a total of $500 billion in Rhode Island schools over next five years. Each school district will be eligible to receive funds for any shovel ready projects. Cranston has been in for forefront of this movement! The Cranston School Department has engaged FNI to engage our school leaders, teachers, students and the community to look at each and every school in the district and with this input, come up with a plan to bring Cranston Public Schools into the 21st century
Many of you participated in work sessions that FNI conducted this past spring, now we need you again. In the spring we asked you about what you thought of your student’s school. FNI has taken that information along with a top to bottom examination of our building and, along with the school department, will be composing a Master Plan for Cranston Schools.
This plan will lay out the vision of the future of Cranston Public Schools. This long-term plan is greatly overdue. Remember the average age of our building is 65 years old. The oldest is Briggs Building built in 1919, our oldest elementary school is Chester Barrows built in 1924.
At the August 20 School Committee meeting, FNI presented the recommendations for a pilot project to begin in one of our elementary schools. They also presented what the fully completed building may look like in the future. This exciting space will help prepare our students for the 21st century culture. Giving our teachers the space to truly perform the blended learning that is becoming the way to learn in today’s culture. In my work life, we are actually working in a similar model to this method. My company has gone to what is called ‘agile’ work environment. No longer do workers have an assigned cube to work in. Instead we work in “neighborhoods.” This is designed to encourage collaboration and more freedom to work with our colleagues instead of siloed spaces by ourselves. The time has come where we start preparing our students for this new environment as well.
On October 10, 2018 FNI will be presenting their Master Plan to the Cranston School Committee. This recommendation from FNI, will present what is essentially a 5- to 10-year plan on how to bring Cranston School Buildings into the 21st century. Due to this extraordinary planning and work being done in Cranston, the school district could be in line for up to 70 percent reimbursement for any money we spend on this project. That is huge!
What do we need from you, our Cranston Community? First, vote yes on the statewide school bond question in November. Second, look for the meeting announcement as to where the October 10 meeting will be held and come listen into what the recommendations are. Lastly, talk to your elected leaders in the city. To move this forward we will need a local bond in 2020. Remember though, we will get $.70 per every $1.00 we spend on those bonds! We need to do this. We are moving to be much, much more than safe, warm and dry.
Domenic F. Fusco Jr.
Cranston School Committee Ward 3