Treasurer Magaziner Champions Bill to Expand Historic Investment in Rhode Island School Buildings
Legislation seeks $300-million bond to continue critical school construction progress
PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner testified today before the Rhode Island House Finance Committee in favor of S2596, developed by his Office in partnership with sponsor Senator Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston and West Warwick), which would extend and expand the once-in-a-generation investment in Rhode Island’s school buildings. As co-chair of the School Building Task Force, Treasurer Magaziner led the development of the State’s school construction plan that was overwhelmingly approved by Rhode Island voters in 2018. Treasurer Magaziner also provided testimony on the companion House Bill H7125 with bill sponsor Representative Brandon Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston).
The State School Construction Plan has since allocated more than $1.7 billion in funding to repair or replace 189 school buildings across 28 districts in Rhode Island. These schools serve more than 101,800 students annually and the projects to repair or replace the schools have created more than 28,000 jobs. School construction activity is well distributed across both urban and suburban school districts.
“Modern school facilities are vital to preparing students to succeed in our economy and to maintain Rhode Island’s competitiveness in the region and the country,” said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. “Despite incredible progress in a short period of time, there are still thousands of children across Rhode Island attending schools that are old, unsafe, and poorly equipped. We need to continue prioritizing school modernization until all students in Rhode Island are attending schools that are safe, warm, and built for 21st-century learning.”
The legislation will include a $300 million statewide bond proposal for voters to consider on the 2022 ballot, to extend the availability of enhanced state funding for early childhood education facilities, career and technical education facilities, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) facilities.
“This is an incredible opportunity, not only to invest in students and their education, but to do so in a way that reflects our values and priorities. By incentivizing the hiring of minority enterprises to complete this work, we can provide opportunities to communities that have historically been especially neglected. By incentivizing energy-efficient, environmentally focused construction, we can play a part in meeting our state’s climate goals. These provisions ensure that we are leveraging all the benefits available to us while providing our students the facilities they need and deserve.”
The proposed legislation will also include significant new incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to public school buildings, in keeping with the state’s Act on Climate goals to achieve a net-zero emission economy. The legislation will also include new incentives for school districts to employ local contractors and minority business enterprises on school construction projects.
“Our district has benefitted enormously from the state’s school construction plan,” said Superintendent of Cranston Public Schools Jeaninne Nota-Masse. “More of our students are now learning in educational environments designed to meet the needs of today’s learners. We could not make as much progress in improving our schools for so many of our students and our educators as we have without this increased state support.”