By JOHN HOWELL
After all the debate over the future of Warwick’s high schools and the decision to renovate Pilgrim and Toll Gate for an estimated cost of $302 million, the city could be on the path for two new schools.
The school administration is scheduled to meet with the Department of Education (RIDE) on Aug. 10 to review the plan to upgrade the two buildings to meet today’s educational standards, but from preliminary discussions with RIDE, two new buildings – presumably built on the existing school properties while the current buildings remain open – is preferable to revamping the existing schools as they operate.
Superintendent Lynn Dambruch said Friday that RIDE expressed reservations with the city’s plan to renovate the two schools – $176.7 million for Pilgrim and $125.4 million for Toll Gate – over a period of three years for each school. She said RIDE has concerns over interruptions in the educational process and what unforeseen delays and unexpected issues could mean to completing both schools. On the other hand, if the School Committee chooses to go with new buildings, they would be designed to meet community educational goals and expectations from the ground up.
Key questions are cost, and how much of that would be reimbursed by the state; how the buildings would be located on existing sites; and the timing of the projects. Critical to the process, in fact essential, is community support. Voters would need to approve funding of a plan whether renovations or new buildings. The