Investing in ‘our future,’ town breaks ground on new North Providence elementary schools

Investing in ‘our future,’ town breaks ground on new North Providence elementary schools

Elementary School students in North Providence celebrate the first day of construction on two new elementary schools, marked by a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of Stephen Olney Elementary on Monday. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)

NORTH PROVIDENCE – State, town and school officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for two new elementary schools on Monday at the site of the Stephen Olney Elementary School at 1378 Douglas Ave.

Olney is one of two schools that were razed last June to make way for new facilities. A new James McGuire Elementary School will be built roughly 2 1/2 miles away on Central Avenue. Both schools are expected to open in the fall of 2019.

Officials thanked the taxpayers in North Providence for supporting the $75 million bond to rebuild the schools, approved in November 2016.

“I came here this morning to applaud the mayor and the people of North Providence for your leadership in taking action to rebuild schools,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo at the ceremony. “There are schools all over Rhode Island that are falling apart and our kids deserve better. North Providence is really a leader on the issue.”

Raimondo also spoke of her administration’s efforts to create a statewide, multi-billion dollar construction initiative to fix schools.

“We think every kid deserves to go to a school that’s warm, safe and dry, and we know that when we rebuild schools, attendance goes up, disciplinary problems go down, teacher moral goes up and students get what they deserve,” she said.

Mayor Charles Lombardi said that education is “our future and the salvation of the state of Rhode Island.”

“In my opinion, this project is the most responsible undertaking the town of North Providence has promised to guarantee in last 100 years, one that I know our children and their children will be thankful for decades to come.”

Lombardi said he calls the project “Project 75,” a nod to the “75 percent of people who came out to vote for the bond supporting this $75 million project.”

The original Olney and McGuire schools were built almost a century ago, when elementary school enrollment was about 400. Today, North Providence enrollment has risen to 1,622 elementary students, 890 middle school students and 1,024 high school students.

North Providence Supt. Bridget Morisseau also thanked elected officials, taxpayers, the Rhode Island Department of Education, Gilbane Inc. and S/L/A/M Architects for their collaborative effort in moving the projects forward.

“Today marks a milestone in this incredible journey. Though it’s far from over, I think it’s fitting to celebrate how far we have come,” she said. “As one of the first communities to embark upon a major construction project, we are committed to making thoughtful and informed design decisions. We know that our community has made a great investment in these schools. It’s an expensive undertaking, but we are confident the result of investments being made will far outweigh the costs of these investments.”

School Supt. Bridget Morisseau speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of Stephen Olney Elementary School in North Providence on Monday.