PROVIDENCE, RI – *Providence mayoral candidate and City Council President Michael Solomon unveiled a detailed 10-year vision to rebuild Providence’s neighborhood schools and create 2,000 jobs today.
In an eight page plan available on his website<http://www.solomonforpvd.com/mayor/thebigidea/>, Solomon proposes investing $250 million to rebuild the city’s schools over the next 10 years. The plan will create 2,000 jobs and ensure proper learning environments for students and teachers.
“Our campaign’s big idea is to strategically invest in education and jobs: the two keys to expanding opportunity and rebuilding our city’s middle class,” said Solomon. “Rebuilding our city schools will achieve many important policy goals in economic development and education: creating first-rate learning environments for our children; transforming our facilities to encourage increased technology use by our teachers; and creating 2,000 good jobs for people in the community by utilizing First Source, apprenticeship programs, as well as local, minority and women contractors.”
Many of Providence’s schools are more than 50 years old and some are more than 100 years old. These aging school buildings are plagued by facility issues, including leaky roofs, peeling paint, water damage, malfunctioning heating systems and crumbling ceilings. According to RIDE, studies show a correlation between student achievement and the physical teaching and learning environments in which they are educated.
“I support Michael Solomon’s vision for rebuilding our city schools. We need to provide our children with school facilities that demonstrate how important their education is to us,” said East Side City Councilman and Special Committee on Education Chairman Sam Zurier. “Quality school buildings promote a productive learning environment.”
Michael Solomon’s vision begins this year with a plan to invest upwards of $40 million to make Providence’s schools warm, safe and dry. This first round of improvements will focus on emergency repairs, such as fixing leaking roofs, replacing outdated heating systems, and updating the schools’ fire systems to make sure Providence’s children are safe in their classrooms.
“It is time to invest in Providence’s schools and ensure that children in every neighborhood have access to a high quality school,” said Keith Oliveira, president of the Providence School Board. “Michael Solomon’s plan to repair and rebuild our schools will help move Providence forward.”
As Mayor, Michael Solomon will work with community leaders, the Providence School Board and superintendent, as well as parents, teachers and students, to create a comprehensive school facilities plan to redevelop the city’s schools into the first rate centers of excellence of Providence students deserve. Solomon recently sponsored a City Council Resolution calling for the Superintendent to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to get the master plan process started.
The master plan will bring educational experts, community stakeholders, students, parents and teachers together to prioritize school repairs. RIDE regulations require a capital or master plan every five years. Providence is long overdue for an updated plan; the last comprehensive school facilities plan with significant public engagement happened eight years ago in 2006. The plan was updated in 2010, however, an updated master plan is needed to serve as a vision document for repairing and renovating the city’s worst schools.
The plan will outline a 10-year investment to rebuild Providence’s schools. This vision will cost city taxpayers approximately $50 million as the city will be reimbursed for 80 percent or $200 million of our school construction spending, based on the school construction moratorium scheduled to sunset this June.
Over the next 10 years, $30 million in annual debt service payments will be off the city’s books. This opens the door for the city to leverage the necessary funds to implement this vision.
“Safe and modern public schools are linked to the city’s future prosperity,” said Gary Sasse. “The plan to finance $250 million of public school infrastructure improvements is not only necessary, but it is affordable. The borrowing for school facility improvements are scheduled to be phased in over several years, allowing for flexibility if economic and fiscal conditions change.”
Michael Solomon’s vision to rebuild and repair Providence’s schools will create 2,000 good-paying construction jobs in the city, putting residents back to work.
“This plan to rebuild our schools is long overdue,” said Rochelle Lee, a policy expert in community development. “Rebuilding our schools will create jobs in the community, generate work for our minority contractors, and create first-class classrooms for our teachers and students. This is a win-win for community development.”