(The Center Square) – Underserved school districts in Rhode Island will be seeing an influx of funding under the Facility Equity Initiative, Gov. Dan McKee said.
The governor announced in a news release that in working with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and with the Office of Energy Resources (OER) and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Opportunity (ODEO), the organizations will work to ensure communities receive an equitable share of $20 million from the 2018 school construction bond in underserved areas.
“This new funding is an important step forward in providing every child in Rhode Island with a modern school facility where they can get an excellent education,” McKee said in the release. “For too long, our funding structures have left our most at-need cities and towns behind, but my administration is working tirelessly to change that. We can give every student in Rhode Island the world-class schools they deserve.”
The Facility Equity initiative, according to the release, is designed to provide funding to five districts that have the highest reimbursement rates. The initiative, which was first announced in October 2021, is a pilot program designed to direct funding to districts that need it most.
Central Falls, Woonsocket, Pawtucket, Providence, and West Warwick school districts will receive a little more than $13 million in funding that will benefit 11,000 students. Funding will be used to construct new science labs, media centers, and community rooms, the release says.
“The school construction program that we launched in 2018 has made historic investments transforming school buildings across Rhode Island because all Rhode Island students, regardless of where they live, deserve equal access to a high-quality education, and poor school facilities should not be a barrier,” General Treasurer Seth Magaziner said in the release.
Magaziner said while the program is in its fourth year, progress has been made but many Rhode Island students are attending old, unsafe, and poorly equipped schools. He said he will “continue to prioritize school modernization” until all schools are “safe, warm, and built for 21st-century learning.”
According to the release, the project is being funded wholly by the state, as minority business enterprises who receive at least 15% of the businesses engaged as part of the project will have their share paid by the state. Those businesses will benefit from $2 million in funding through the pilot program.