Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Updated October 11, 2018
East Providence has proposed construction of a new, state-of-the-art, comprehensive East Providence High School. The proposed project includes the design and building of a new educational and athletic facility on the current site, with capacity to enroll 1,600 students. The proposal has been approved by the Building Committee, School Committee, City Council, and Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE).
The State of Rhode Island has initiated a School Construction Program
to transform and replace inadequate public school buildings throughout the state. The program offers cities and towns significant reimbursement for projects that meet qualifying criteria. East Providence has seized the opportunity to receive State aid in order to finance construction of a new high school equipped for 21st century teaching and learning.
Built in 1952, the East Providence High School (EPHS) building has outlived its useful life. The infrastructure of the facility is failing and cannot be repaired or replaced in a cost-effective way. The high school was not designed to support the variety of special programs and services present in today’s schools or the delivery of a rigorous, innovative, 21st century education. For additional detail, visit The Need page of the site.
A thorough analysis of the building conditions and costs of extensive renovations and repairs affirmed that new construction is more viable and cost-effective in the long term. A feasibility study conducted in 2017 affirmed that the district would have to spend at least $100 million just to bring the high school up to code. That estimate included no investments in the Career and Technical Center building, no improvements to athletic fields, and no changes to the layout of the building to meet today’s educational standards. Additionally, that 2017 estimate does not account for the escalation of costs through the completion of renovations, nor does it include premium expenses for phased construction within an occupied school or expenses associated with displacing students to a “swing space” during renovations. Accordingly, the total cost of an alternative approach would be tens of millions of dollars more than the base cost cited in the 2017 report.
The new facility will be a state-of-the-art, comprehensive high school, establishing the benchmark for Rhode Island high schools. It will include flexible, adaptable and collaborative project-based teaching and learning environments, improved energy efficiency, and additional safety and security features.
The new campus will feature primary use spaces that include: auditorium, Media Center, Student Commons, a central kitchen serving all schools, and a café / restaurant operated by the Culinary Arts program that is open to the public. Athletic facilities will include new soccer, baseball, softball, and lacrosse fields, a football stadium and track, new gymnasium with three basketball courts, and a walking track available for community use.
The core curriculum – Mathematics, English, Social Studies, Sciences, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages – will be taught in state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, and studios.
The facility will enable the school to offer new and expanded career and technical education programs in 14 highly skilled areas: Automotive Technology, Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Construction Technology, Culinary Arts, Electrical, Engineering, Forensic Science, Graphic Communications, Health Occupations, HVAC, Marine Biology, Plumbing, and Welding.
Yes. East Providence residents will have an opportunity to vote Tuesday, November 6, 2018, on a local referendum – Question 4 – on whether or not to approve the bonds that would finance the new East Providence High School. A YES vote would approve the project; a NO vote would reject it.
Yes. Question 1 is a statewide ballot question. Rhode Island voters will be asked to approve (“yes”) or reject (“no”) a bond referendum for $250 million to make additional money available to cities and towns for school facilities through the School Construction Program. The outcome of Question 1 will determine the amount of additional State reimbursement available for the East Providence High School project (see below).
The project would be funded by a combination of State and local funds. The total cost of the project is set not to exceed $189.5 million. Depending on the outcome of the statewide ballot question, the impact on the residential tax rate is estimated to range from $0.76 to $1.17 per $1,000 assessed. For additional detail, visit the Finances page
of the website.
No. The increase would be applied once and remain in effect in subsequent years, but the increase is not compounded year after year.
If voters reject Question 4, a new high school will not be constructed. Instead, East Providence will be responsible for the full cost of any repairs and renovations to the existing building, with no guarantee of State reimbursement. In order to receive State reimbursement, East Providence would have to reapply to RIDE for an alternate school improvement program, a process that would result in a two-year delay, followed by another voter bond referendum before work could commence.
The State’s expanded School Construction Program makes reimbursement funding available only to cities and towns that allocate at least 3 percent of school operating budgets annually to building maintenance. If East Providence or any other community invests less than 3 percent, State funding would be revoked. In order to ensure that this requirement is met, East Providence has established a revolving capital fund, phased in over five years. In addition, the State now requires school districts to develop 5-year and 10-year facilities maintenance plans for every school building.
The East Providence Public Schools established a Building Committee that is leading the process of designing and constructing a new high school, with input and oversight from the East Providence School Committee. Members of the Building Committee are listed on https://epbuildingcommittee.com/about/
. A team of third-party professionals has been hired to assist with delivery of the project, including:
- Peregrine Group, Owner’s Project Manager;
- Gilbane Building Co., Construction Manager at Risk; and
- Ai3, Project Architect.
If voters approve Question 4, the district will complete the final design phase and break ground in 2019. The new school building is scheduled to be ready for occupancy for the 2021-2022 academic year. The new track and football field also are scheduled to be completed by that date. Following demolition of the existing building, new parking lots and driveways, soccer and softball fields, and tennis courts are scheduled to open in 2022.
No. As part of its application process to the State, East Providence submitted preliminary designs. The school district has hired the architectural firm Ai3 to complete the final design of the project. At the same time, the district is conducting a visioning process, to gather input from students, parents, staff, and the community about the future of public education in East Providence.
Yes. Students are actively involved in the visioning process. Students have participated in focus groups, and more than 1,000 students have responded to the online survey.
Yes. The clock tower is an important part of the tradition at East Providence High School and an emblem of “Townie Pride.” It will remain on campus.
No. The proposal has no impact on class size limits. The larger classrooms are designed to relieve overcrowding and give greater flexibility for collaborative, project-based and interdisciplinary teaching and learning practices.
Yes. The new facility will feature significantly improved spaces for the visual and performing arts, including new studio, rehearsal, and performance areas.
The lack of an adequate football field on campus requires extensive transportation of players, coaches, and equipment throughout the season, which is both disruptive and costly. The plans for a new football stadium also include a new track and other facilities for the Track and Field team. Pierce Field is not a regulation field for varsity sports. Pierce Field also is an aging facility in need of significant renovation and repair.
No. The design for the new facility does not include construction of a new swimming pool. The cost is prohibitive, particularly because the State does not provide any reimbursement for spaces used solely for athletics, and the space occupied by the pool is needed for other features of the new school.
Rhode Island State law does include provisions for a student in one community, under certain circumstances, to enroll in CTE programs at a public school in another community, if that program is not available in his or her home community. This would be an option at East Providence High School only if there is space available. The student’s home city or town would have to pay tuition to East Providence for the student to enroll, under a formula established by the State.
The project will incorporate many of the latest best practices and developments in school safety and security, including cameras, enhanced door and window security, ballistic window glazing, critical locations provisions that will facilitate lockdown and containment in the event of an intruder, and features to enhance response times in the event of any emergency. Enhanced operational procedures and protocols will be established for access and oversight of visitors.
This summer, East Providence Public Schools and the team leading the project launched a three-month community engagement plan to educate residents about the referendum vote to finance the proposed new high school. The public engagement campaign includes opportunities for the community to hear presentations, ask questions, and submit comments. Events include Community Forums, information booths at existing local events, such as festivals and home football games, and sessions for families and staff at school open houses and PTA meetings.
There are several ways to stay informed about the project:
East Providence Public Schools is leading a public information and engagement campaign to provide residents with facts to make an informed decision on the ballot question. An external group of residents and parents has organized its own campaign in support of “Yes on 4.” For more information about their campaign activities and resources, contact Nate Cahoon at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Joel Monteiro at email@example.com
If you have additional questions about Question 4 or the East Providence High School Building Project, please send them to BuildEPHS@epschoolsri.com. This document will be updated regularly and posted on www.EPbuildingcommittee.com/FAQ.