East Providence schools seek significant state funding being held by city side

Middle school renovations move as planned; new EPHS project reaches milestones

By Mike Rego
Posted 9/11/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — Among the more notable items discussed at the September 10 School Committee meeting held at City Hall included the revelation the city is in possession of some $6 million of …

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East Providence schools seek significant state funding being held by city side

Middle school renovations move as planned; new EPHS project reaches milestones

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — Among the more notable items discussed at the September 10 School Committee meeting held at City Hall included the revelation the city is in possession of some $6 million of state reimbursement funding earmarked for the district, but has yet to release the monies.
Schools side Finance Director Craig Enos told the committee he along with Superintendent Kathryn Crowley have been in talks with City side Finance Director Malcolm Moore and state-appointed Municipal Finance Advisor Paul Luba about transferring the monies into the district’s coffers as soon as possible.
“The city director of finance and the city financial advisor have agreed that, yes, indeed those funds belong to us and that we will be continuing the dialogue with them that those funds belong to us…and we want to insure a transition of those funds over to the control of the school department and not to the city,” Mr. Enos said.
Ward 2 Committee member Tony Ferreira asked if in fact it could prove the money being discussed was the district’s why was there a need for any more talks between the groups. He urged the administration to submit a letter to the city formally requesting the transfer of the funds.
“If you can state legally to the taxpayers that it’s (the district’s) money, what’s the dialogue about?” Mr. Ferreira added.
Superintendent Crowley responded, telling the committee the discussions between the sides was more formality and agreed with Mr. Ferreira’s suggestion it should be a “simple cash transaction.” The superintendent said part of the delay was the desire of her city side counterparts to inform Mayor Bob DaSilva about the situation. Superintendent Crowley said the mayor was unavailable when the sides discussed the matter on September 9 and that all of the interested parties planned on meeting September 11 to remedy the situation.
At-Large Committee member Joel Monteiro stressed the public and his fellow elected officials should understand the money was not part of the annual state aid package the district receives and shouldn’t be conflated with the budget request it recently submitted to the mayor’s office and city council.
The committee hypothesized the money, which is a “one-off” reimbursement from the state to the district upon completion of previous projects, could be used to continue its building maintenance efforts and support programs such as Special Needs.
Middle school projects
Of consequence as well, the committee later in Tuesday’s proceedings tabled to its next meeting a request from the administration in support of hiring Peregrine as the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) for the replacement window projects at both Riverside and Martin Middle Schools.
Mr. Enos, upon an inquiry by Ward 1 member and committee chair Charlie Tsonos, said the move “has no effect on the projects at all. The projects are going forward.” He added because the cost is over $1.5 million, per RIDE, the district must have an OPM. However, the submission by perferred partner Peregrine Group was tardy, but would be provided to the district shortly.
The Martin portion of the project is the beginning of five-year plan to refurbish the 40-year-old building, which was deemed in urgent need of attention by the state through a report provided in 2017 by the architectural firm Jacobs. At the time, the report estimated Martin had some $34 million in infrastructure needs.
With that in mind, the district recently initiated a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) action seeking the credentials of contractors interested in performing the other planned MMS renovations. Mr. Enos said the administration is “reviewing and scoring” the submissions with the hope of taking the next steps in the process by the end of September.
New EPHS update
Mr. Monteiro, co-chair of the new East Providence High School building committee, updated the committee on recent developments associated with the $189.5 million project. He said bids have been awarded to building excavation and foundation contractors. The next round of bids to be awarded shortly, he said, include structural steel, structural masonry, spray fireproofing and elevators.
Mr. Monteiro also highlighted some milestones on the new EPHS timeline.
Builders Gilbane were last week set to receive design documents at 75 percent complete from architects Ai3. Said documents need to be 100 percent completed in full by December 13 of this year per the Rhode Island Department of Education mandates.
In addition, permits for submission to the state Department of Environmental Management and the state Department of Transportation are scheduled to be done by the end of September.
And of significance, the latest cost estimate from new EPHS project manager Peregrine is slated to be provided to the building committee by October 11. The estimate coincides with Ai3’s plans being 75 percent complete.

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