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Meadowbrook repairs to get surplus money?

January 9, 2011

The schools did not spend all of the bond money allocated for the new Cole Middle School, and they want to spend the rest on Meadowbrook Elementary.

With decisions on what to do with the school budget surplus and the Meadowbrook Farm Elementary School roof and floor situation looming, the School Committee and the district’s School Building Committee will be getting together for a joint meeting next week.
The work session, with school project funding recommendations on the agenda for discussion, will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at East Greenwich High School’s guidance suite.
While the School Committee has already requested permission from the Town Council to use one third of the estimated $6 million surplus from the $52 million school bond on roof replacement at the high school and Frenchtown Elementary School, the school boards will be discussing other priorities Tuesday.
A potential $4 million worth of work at Meadowbrook, involving both replacement of the roof and replacement of a deteriorating floor system. is the most expensive piece of the puzzle. The daunting cost of the work has had school officials considering retirement of the 40-year-old building, but enrollment and classroom space studies have quieted talk of closing the school.
Building Committee Chairman Jay Gowell said his board has had difficulty in finding a consensus on what to do about Meadowbrook, while School Committee Chairwoman Deidre Gifford is hoping to make a decision on the school sometime this month.
Gowell said the original cost of the Meadowbrook roof replacement, $1 million, has ballooned to the $3-4 million range.

“It was the consensus of the Building Committee not to wait on replacing the roof while we decide what to do on Meadowbrook,” he said.
School officials are also considering spending $650,000 on technology updates at the high school and $500,000 for modernizing its library. They are also looking at lighting improvements through ESCO (Energy Savings Company) that could produce $1 million in energy savings that could be used for capital needs.
School Committee Vice Chairman Robert Durant said a planning meeting Thursday with ESCO should produce a decision on whether that program is worth pursuing.
District Superintendent Victor Mercurio promoted the library and technology upgrades at the high school as necessary both to provide students the same level of equipment they’ll have at the new Cole Middle School and enhance the high school’s chances of winning accreditation this spring from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
“We’re looking through the lens of NEASC accreditation. Once the new Cole is up and running, we need to recreate those opportunities at the high school so students won’t have that disconnect as they go through grades 6-12,” he said.
The high school library currently has only 12 computers available, said Mercurio.
“Internet access exists, but the ability to use it is sporadic. This has the potential to alleviate that problem,” he said.
Gowell also put the library work above schoolwide lighting on his priority list.
“The library upgrade has been on our priority list for a long time. If we have a finite amount of funds, the library’s a much higher priority,” he said.

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