Grant for SHS media center announced to council

Grant for SHS media center announced to council

In separate matter, board slashes town licensing fee

SMITHFIELD – The Smithfield School Department has won a competitive $25,000 grant for architectural design services for the Smithfield High School library media center, said Assistant Supt. Sara Monaco during Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.

Monaco said the district selected the media center because it will impact the largest number of students.

“It would be best to create a collaborative, updated space that will be great for the entire school,” Monaco said.

Applicants were judged on three criteria: the boldness of the proposal, the level of how student-centered it was, and how broad-based the team was that developed it.

The media center design plans will be entered to win $500,000 to be given to one of five Rhode Island schools. Design plans are due by Jan. 31, 2020.

“I know some constituents who will be very happy to hear about this,” Town Councilor Sean Kilduff said.

Monaco said even if the district does not win the big grant, it will still have the design plans for the media center and save the town money.

“Either way, whether we receive it or not, at least it will propel us forward. We would have the design in hand,” she said.

The idea will be to realize the plans with the grant money or not, and the district will formulate a plan to complete the project, said Monaco.

Smithfield High School was one of 20 Rhode Island high schools awarded a $25,000 grant for school redesigns given by XQ+RI. A total of 32 planning teams applied for the redesign grants.

Seventeen high schools were selected along with three concepts for new schools.

XQ+RI is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Education and the XQ institute, an organization dedicated to redesigning American high schools.

The council authorized the School Department to issue a request for proposals for architectural services for the media center using XQ+RI grant funding. The architect will work to design the new innovation center that is required to meet the grant’s goals and objectives.

Fees reduced

Businesses and organizations hoping to host a multi-day event in town will no longer need to pay fees of $50 per day after the Town Council on Tuesday approved lowering the rate to $5 per day.

According to Town Manager Randy Rossi, the “exorbitant” $50 licensing fee was cost-prohibitive for anyone looking to host an event.

John Emin, of Seven Cedars Farm, said he worked with Rossi to lower the fees after his farm paid $850 in fees to the town to run a haunted hayride for several weeks last year. He said the idea of a licensing fee was not a problem, but a per diem fee did not make sense to him.

Emin said the town should not try to track the days an event will be hosted by collecting fees, and instead look at the license to see how many days an event will run.

“It’s not a matter of money but a matter of principle at this point. I’m objecting to that if I may,” Emin said.

Rossi said collecting the small fee will not prevent anyone from hosting a multi-day event.