Raimondo to propose new plan to rebuild schools after cold-related problems

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Frustrations are rising as two Cranston schools remain closed Wednesday due to weather related damage.

Governor Gina Raimondo met with school superintendents from across Rhode Island at the State House Tuesday following days of damage, closures and cleanup at local schools.

Students who attend two Cranston schools will miss another day of classes on Wednesday as crews continue to work to clean up water damage inside the buildings. Cranston High School East will be closed for the third day in a row after a water pipe burst early Monday morning, damaging several classrooms and offices. Edgewood Highland Elementary School has been closed since a water main break on Jan. 3 caused “very significant” damage to the building.

Raimondo said she plans to unveil a proposal next week for funding the rebuilding of schools across the state.

“I plan to present a bold plan to the legislature, to make a once in a generation investment in rebuilding our schools,” Raimondo said.

“With the weather even last week, a lot of schools have had issues with pipes freezing, that kind of thing,” Warwick Public Schools Superintendent Philip Thornton said.

In Warwick, Tollgate High School reopened Tuesday after burst water pipes forced an early dismissal Monday morning.

A study from the the governors office in September 2017 found that public schools across Rhode Island need more than $2 billion in repairs or upgrades in the coming years.

The Rhode Island School Building Task Force asked the state to provide more funding to cities and towns that prioritize schools that need to be made “warm, safe and dry.”

Officials from different cities and towns urged Raimondo during Tuesday’s meeting to prioritize funding to rebuild Rhode Island’s crumbling schools.

“Every day we delay a solution, cities and towns are wasting money,” Raimondo said.

The superintendents at the meeting discussed recent issues directly with Raimondo, such as the amount of over time schools have been paying maintenance workers who have been working around the clock as a result of weather impacts.

“It’s a crisis, it’s time to take action, and it just made me realize, that we can’t wait anymore,” Raimondo said. “We have to help cities and towns have the funds they need to rebuild their schools.”