New $189.5 million EPHS project maxes out on state reimbursements

Price tag to city will be just under $89 million

By Mike Rego
Posted 6/17/21

EAST PROVIDENCE — The new East Providence High School project has officially met all of the measures set out by the state, meaning the city’s share of the $189.5 million price tag will be …

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New $189.5 million EPHS project maxes out on state reimbursements

Price tag to city will be just under $89 million

Posted

(Updated, June 21, 11:30 a.m.) EAST PROVIDENCE — The new East Providence High School project has officially met all of the measures set out by the state, meaning the city’s share of the $189.5 million price tag will be just under $89 million.

Superintendent Kathryn Crowley received word Thursday, June 17, the state would reimburse the city at the highest level possible rate, 74.37 percent, reaching a goal the new building committee, upon which she sits and is co-chaired by Joel Monteiro and Nate Cahoon, and architects Ai3 set forth when in the design stage.

To be exact, the total amount the city will be responsible to pay for the project through bonds is approximately $88,667,815. The district and the city will be reimbursed the 74.37 percent on $135,581,800 of the project.

“This is absolutely wonderful for the citizens of East Providence,” said an ebullient Superintendent Crowley last Thursday afternoon. “To get a $189.5 million building for just around $89 million is amazing. And I understand the city has a really good interest rate on the bond (around 2 percent), so that’s makes this even better.”

The district and the city knew going into the project two years ago it would be reimbursed by the state at least at a rate of some 55 percent with the hope if it met a series of guidelines put forth by the Rhode Island Department of Education for such things as access, energy efficiency and other markers it could reach the near 75 percent threshold.

It did in recent days when as part of a statewide facility assessment conducted by the state’s School Building Authority, the new EPHS project was certified as qualifying for the maximum bonus incentives of 20 percent, which is equal to an additional $30 million in so-called state foundational housing aid.

“Needless to say that I am extremely pleased for our entire community. At nearly 78% voter approval to build a new high school for our students, it was the clear intention of the Building Committee to do everything that we could to maximize the return on investment to our taxpayers by targeting every possible initiative that RIDE placed into the State Bond to achieve the extra reimbursement points,” Mr. Monteiro said, referencing the 2018 election when residents backed the referendum to pursue the $189.5 million in bonds for the project.

Said Mr. Cahoon, “While I am thrilled to hear the news that our $189 million school will be built at a cost of less than $89 million to the East Providence taxpayers, I am not surprised. Everyone involved in this effort has worked with laser focus and commitment to deliver to our students, faculty, staff, and citizens precisely what was promised. An exceptional outcome was always the goal, and politics have never gotten in the way. This led to success after success, and culminated in great credibility.”

The co-chairs each also credited not only their fellow new EPHS Building Committee members for the success, to date, of the project both financially and contextually (the future high school campus proper including the building itself and athletics stadium are approaching some 75 percent complete), but also those of the district’s representative The Peregrine Group, architects Ai3 and builder Gilbane.

“In order to do this, we needed a team that could work together, each member taking on tasks and contributing their efforts in the appropriate areas, based on their individual strengths. Hiring the correct Owner's Project Manager, Architect, and General Contractor was critical to us achieving our goals,” said Mr. Monteiro. “Each of these hired professional teams worked hand in hand with our Central Administration team, meeting together with RIDE leadership to understand expectations, and create a building plan that would meet or exceed those expectations.”

He continued, “As a result of countless hours of work, our community is getting the most impressive and impactful school/community campus for less than half the total cost. Our Building Committee (which includes some key resident volunteers with related professional experience), School Department employees, and hired professionals (Peregrine, AI3, Gilbane) deserve so much credit for delivering exactly what we all collectively told the East Providence Community that we were going to work to deliver to them. This is what selfless dedication for the greater good looks like. This is Townie Pride.”

Added Mr. Cahoon, “The credit for this monumental achievement should go primarily to those with "boots on the ground:” the EPHS Building Committee; the owner's project manager; the architect; the construction manager; and the hundreds of women and men working in the multiple trades who have raised the next Great American High School from an unremarkable plot of ground in the midst of a global pandemic. But I believe it necessary and appropriate to also acknowledge the work of those state and city leaders who toiled to support this project from its inception. Kudos to former Governor (Gina) Raimondo, Treasurer (Seth) Magaziner and the Rhode Island Department of Education for their executive leadership and support; kudos to the members of the Rhode Island General Assembly — particularly Representative Gregg Amore — for their work to secure the necessary funding; and kudos to Mayor Bob DaSilva's administration for working with the building committee and the school department to complete the necessary inspections, permitting, and perhaps most importantly, financing of the effort (at an incredible rate of 2.06 percent)."

The next phases of the new EPHS project include the installation of FF&E  (fixtures, furniture, and equipment) over the next few months and the impending start of demolition of the existing building. The new EPHS remains on target to open in time for the beginning of the 2021-22 term later this summer.

The current East Providence High School structure will officially closed for public use on Thursday, June 24. The district will turn over control of the building to Gilbane on Thursday, July 1.

The new project’s lead contractor plans to begin abatement of the main portion of 70-year-old existing structure on July 7 while at the same time starting demolition of the approximately 20-year old addition. The majority of the old building, completed in 1952, is likely to contain materials (i.e. asbestos) now deemed as contaminants. The addition was built to more modern standards and does not need the same type of remediation.

With that in mind, Mr. Cahoon concluded, “We still have a long way to go. But returns thus far are promising, and the future looks bright. The new East Providence High School will long stand as a monument to what our community can achieve when we work together, roll up our sleeves and put egos aside. We can, and should, all be proud.”

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.