Letter to the Editor: Please Vote For Middletown Schools on November 7th

We are a week away from deciding if the town of Middletown is going to make a historical investment in education. The passage of the school bond will become the largest capital improvement project in our history. It will begin the process of reinventing our educational infrastructure landscape – something talked about, studied, and planned for the past 2 decades.

The debate over the project has many facets, but the goal remains unchanged – to build new and renovated spaces for our students and teachers to provide the latest technology, in a safe and comfortable environment.

The $190 million price tag hasn’t changed – Property taxes will go up to pay to fund the project – 13% over the next four years. All but $28 million of the project cost is eligible for 55% reimbursement from the state. State money isn’t magic, it is our own taxpayer money – available to come back to our community. The state will provide reimbursement when the project is substantially completed. They are not going to give us the money up front based on drawings – it must be built.

Do we have the final building plans in hand? No. The conceptual design presented thus far represents all the research and data collected to date. We are required to have a contractor in place by June 2024. The building committee is going to use that time to hone the design to the best degree possible. Like any project, information is gathered and analyzed, concepts are discussed, new ideas and products
and presented to stakeholders to produce the best product within the financial constraints of the budget.

RI Dept. of Education makes the rules pertaining to school projects that qualify for state aid. The size of the school is determined by the number of students. They base the number of students from a third-party demographic study of the community, five years projected into the future. They set the guidelines for how much space each student (by age) needs. RIDE also sets the cost per square foot of these spaces.

Risk is an element of any project. Can I tell what the bond rate will be or what the price of steel will be next year – nope. We have a retained the services of a design team (engineers, architects, project managers, etc.) whose professional expertise is providing the best estimates and forecasting trends in this type of project. We toured the result of their previous projects, talked with the administrations, the teachers and students – I am confident we picked the best team. Together we have considered the elements of risk and have contingencies and allowances built in to keep us between the guardrails.

Please vote for our schools on Nov 7th.

– Tom Welch, Middletown Town Councilor




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