Governor McKee, Lt. Governor Matos, Commissioner Infante-Green Announce $30 Million for Second Round of School Facility Equity Initiative | Governor's Office, State of Rhode Island

2022-09-16 22:58:39 By : Mr. David Wang

Official State of Rhode Island website

Funding will support high priority, high impact upgrades in ten school districts

PROVIDENCE, RI  — Governor Dan McKee, Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) Interim Commissioner Chris Kearns, and Rhode Island Division of Equity, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEDI) Associate Director Tomás Ávila today joined City of Central Falls officials including Mayor Maria Rivera and education leaders at Calcutt Middle School to announce the availability of $30 million in funding for the second round of the School Building Authority’s (SBA)  Facility Equity Initiative  (FEI). The program that was launched last year ensures underserved school communities across Rhode Island receive an equitable share of state school construction funding.

“My administration is focused on making sure Rhode Island students receive the high-quality education they deserve – and that includes ensuring that more students thrive in modern classrooms,” said Governor McKee.  “I’m proud that our budget prioritizes our kids, families, and teachers with $300 million for school improvements that will benefit communities across Rhode Island. It is also exciting that we’re expanding the Facility Equity Initiative to support projects in districts that are most in need.” 

“The Facility Equity Initiative is, in every way, an investment in the future of Rhode Island. In one stroke, it helps us improve our schools, reduce our carbon footprint, and promote economic equity in our state,” said  Lieutenant Governor Matos.  “We are deeply excited to expand the program this year and to work across government to ensure that it funds essential projects.”

Governor McKee’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget allocated significant resources to build and improve school facilities throughout the Ocean State including a $250 million Statewide School Construction Bond that will be considered by voters in November, and $50 million in Pay-As-You-Go funding, of which $25 million is being utilized for the new round of the FEI for high priority, high impact school improvement projects. The Office of Energy Resources has committed an additional $5 million for the FEI to support LED lighting upgrades.

“Through a joint commitment to our kids, we’re making strides in improving the conditions of Rhode Island schools,” said Council on Elementary and Secondary Education Chair Patti DiCenso . “Modern schools that are conducive to learning are a vital part of improving students’ outcomes and we’re pleased to be offering significant funds to make drastic improvements – especially in communities that have been historically left behind.”

“At RIDE we believe that every child – no matter their zip code – deserves to learn in a 21st Century learning space that is safe, welcoming, and promotes academic excellence,” said Commissioner Infante-Green.  “We’ve applied an equity lens to school improvement efforts and we’re making sure that marginalized school communities benefit from the influx in school construction funding made possible by Governor McKee and the state legislature. By investing in our schools, we’re tearing down low expectations in education and raising the bar for our kids and families.”

The FEI, first announced in October 2021, initially provided funding to five districts with the highest reimbursement rates. Between them, the districts of Central Falls, Woonsocket, Pawtucket, Providence, and West Warwick received close to $13.4 million in funding for 26 projects in 17 schools that serve over 11,000 students, including new science labs, media centers, and community rooms. Calcutt Middle School in Central Falls was one of the schools that benefited from the FEI funding and welcomed students this school year to upgraded classrooms including a state-of-the-art science room, LED lighting throughout, and new furniture and technology including 53 smart boards.

"Giving our students here in Central Falls access to improved school facilities is extremely important to my administration, our education community, and so many of families in our city," said Central Falls Mayor Rivera.  "For too long, our students have been stuck with buildings and classrooms that simply don't meet the needs of their 21st Century learning. Thanks to the School Building Authority’s Facility Equity Initiative, we're changing that. We're seeing amazing upgrades to Calcutt Middle School and I look forward to continued upgrades district-wide."

As with the first round of the FEI, applications for the new funds will be reviewed by a scoring committee comprised of members from RIDE, OER, and DEDI based on a prioritization rubric developed by the SBA based on the type of project, number of students impacted, wealth of the community, level of stakeholder engagement, and timeline.

“Over the past year, OER has assisted 14 schools in Central Falls, Providence and Pawtucket with LED lighting upgrades, at zero costs to these school departments,” said Interim State Energy Commissioner Christopher Kearns.  “LED lighting offers several advantages, including reduced energy use and lower maintenance and replacement costs. However, LEDs also improve the learning environment for students and teachers, as well as make classrooms, hallways, and common areas safer. This additional $5 million in funding for lighting upgrades will allow us to expand our School Lighting Accelerator program to more schools in Rhode Island.”

Further, as part of Rhode Island’s commitment to equitable business practices, districts for which Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) comprise at least 15% of the businesses engaged as part of their project will receive an additional 10% reimbursement, with projects in the communities most in need remaining 100% funded by the State.

“At DEDI we are very happy with the equitable outcomes of the Facility Equity Initiative,” said DEDI Associate Director Tomás Ávila . “The program has improved MBE Participation, the learning environment for students and teachers, as well as the improvements in less wealthy communities across the state.”

With the expansion of the program, FEI funds will support educational improvements and security upgrades and be available to the following school districts:

*Signifies five additional school districts now eligible for Facility Equity Initiative funding.

Office of the Governor 82 Smith Street Providence, RI 02903 Phone: (401) 222-2080 Fax: (401) 222-8096

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