Board Keeps Middle School 'In Motion'

The Barrington School Committee puts the district in line for state money when the school building moratorium is lifted; options for a new or 'gut renovation' building OKd.

The Barrington School Committee took a step Thursday night to put the schools in position at the head of the line for state money when the moratorium on school building is lifted by the General Assembly.

The school board approved a recommendation by its Building Committee to consider construction of either a new or a renovated middle school

The latter shows a rough price tag of $36.175 million; the latter shows a cost of around $39.4 million in today’s dollars.

The vote by the School Committee was unanimous, 5-0.

“It keeps this project in motion,” said Ron Tarro, director of finance and administration.

The next step is to officially inform the Town Council of the decision and ask for its endorsement, said Tarro.

At that point, he said, the administration will add the project to its application for money from the RI Department of Education (RIDE). That will put Barrington in the line for reimbursement cash when it becomes available, he said, possibly as early as 2014. The current reimbursement rate is 40 percent.

Taking this step also allows the School Committee to reconvene the Building Committee and begin to conceptualize a new building, Tarro said.

The School Committee kept the project in motion after listening to a presentation from its building consultants – Edward Frenette and Keelia Kentor of Symmes Maini & McKee Associates (SMMA), who have been working closely with the Building Committee over the past half year.

The consultants told the school board that two options were selected for further consideration: A new middle school for grades 6-8, and a “gut renovation” middle school for the same grades.  The latter shows a slightly higher price tag.

Both options can improve the performance and behavior of students, said Frenette, the role of architecture. But the final selection will probably have to be chosen for its fit in the community and the best use of the existing site.

“Which makes the most sense?” Frenette said.

The School Committee can answer that question, he said, by “going down a certain distance with both options.”

“You don’t have to make a decision on either one now,” Frenette said. “You need to approve both.”

That’s exactly what the School Committee did to help it get to the head of the line for state reimbursement money when it becomes available.


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