EAST PROVIDENCE — The move of the East Providence School Department from its long-time and former Burnside Avenue site to the third floor at City Hall became officially “official” during the spring recess as the administrative offices completed their transition to the new locale.
Calling herself “the last of the Mohegans,” Patricia Ianelli diligently combed through boxes and boxes of files late last week, attempting to clear out the old to make way for the new.Ms. Ianelli, the administrative assistant to the Superintendent, has spent the last 14 years at Burnside. She has worked for seven superintendents, including the recently-hired Kim Mercer.
“I think everyone is happy with the setup at City Hall. We’re all getting settled in,” Ms. Ianelli said as she cleaned out the Super’s office at Burnside. “I think it’s a good move. We’re in a more centralized location in the middle of the city at City Hall, instead of being way at the end of the city here.”
The School Registration office was the first of the administrative entities to make the move, doing so at end of last summer just prior to the start of the 2012-13 term. The transition started and stopped at that point as City Facilities Manager Ed Catelli coordinated the move of existing offices at City Hall, including the Planning Department, from third floor to the second floor.
The last bit of business to occur at City Hall was the installation of an updated phone system for the School Department. Those lines and numbers were expected to be completely up and running as of the start of business day Monday, April 22, when students return to class from vacation.
As for the Burnside Avenue building, which was the School Department headquarters from some 20 years, it is on the block up for sale by the city and it won’t be missed by those who worked there.
“It’s an old building that needs a lot of work,” Ms. Ianelli said. “It looks pretty much the same as it did when I started here 14 years ago. Other than a little paint, not much has changed.”
The number of people who worked at Burnside has fluctuated over the years, but especially so recently as the department has undergone significant upheaval. Ms. Ianelli estimated at its height some 35 staffers were situated in Burnside. As its doors closed last week, the total was less than half that figure.
Discussed in the past, the decision to close Burnside was finally made last year by the East Providence Budget Commission, one of its numerous consolidation edicts. The Commission determined it was more efficient to close the building, saving the city in utility and operational costs and allowing the property to be put up for sale.
City Hall was deemed to have adequate space to house the School Department. Two offices were built in Room 306 of City Hall as part of the transition. An auxiliary parking lot was constructed across the street behind the Weaver House to accommodate the increased number of vehicles.