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Mayor Donald R. Grebien welcomed Governor Gina Raimondo, Superintendent Patti DiCenso, Pawtucket School Department officials and representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Education, as they gathered to celebrate a $13.8 million renovation to Potter Burns Elementary School on Newport Avenue in Pawtucket.
The renovations will include significant improvements to the school which was constructed in 1919. New interior and exterior entry ways and doors will be constructed and an elevator will be added to make certain that the building is in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards. New mechanical, plumbing, heating and electrical components will be implemented throughout the building and brand new energy-efficient windows will be installed as well. Improvements and renovations to the school library and cafeteria are also included in this project. Finally, renovations and upgrades to the parking lot and playground behind the school will be completed as part of this massive overhaul.
“Most people commonly associate roads, bridges and sewers with infrastructure. However, our city schools are a critical piece of our infrastructure,” said Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “I want to thank our partners at the Governor’s Office, the General Assembly, the Pawtucket School Department, and the Rhode Island Department of Education for collaborating with the City to ensure that our kids are learning in safe, comfortable conditions,” continued the Mayor.
In November of 2014 the citizens of Pawtucket overwhelmingly approved $32 million of funding to address the repair needs of the city’s school buildings. This supplemental funding became available through Governor Raimondo’s new capital funds initiative for ‘shovel ready’ projects through the newly developed Rhode Island School Building Authority. The Pawtucket School Department worked closely with the Rhode Island Department of Education to apply for funding reimbursement under the previously approved Housing Aid formula.
“We have a responsibility to provide warm, safe, clean and dry schools for every child in Rhode Island,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “Together with the General Assembly we funded the School Building Authority to fix our crumbling schools and make critical renovations like the work getting underway at Potter Burns. We are putting our kids in better schools because quality learning environments matter – and we are putting construction crews back to work. These are smart, key investments in our students, our workers, and the future of our state.”
"These massive renovations are possible because the taxpayers in this city support education,” stated Pawtucket School Committee Chairman Jay Charbonneau. “Our role is to deliver results," said Charbonneau.
Ahlborg Construction is tasked with the construction aspect of the project, while Colliers International manages the project. “Colliers is very pleased to serve as the Owner’s Project Manager on this extremely important school improvement program. As a trusted partner with the State, City and Schools we have are proud to see the years of planning and collaboration result in such meaningful improvement for every student,” said Jon Winikur, Executive Managing Director for Colliers International.
While the renovations are being completed, students will be redirected to the new Annex, located at 723 Central Avenue in Pawtucket. The Annex, formerly known as St. Leo the Great School, was acquired by the City after purchasing from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence last year. The Annex was renovated to meet the classroom needs of students during the construction period of the Potter Burns project. The total cost of the renovation to the Annex was $1.85 million, with the State funding approximately $1.48 million and the City of Pawtucket contributing $371,000 to the project. Once the renovations to Potter Burns are complete, the Annex will host students from Nathanael Greene Elementary School as similar renovations are scheduled to take place.
Dr. Ken Wagner, the State’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education also weighed in on the project. “For so many Rhode Islanders, success starts in the classroom, and it is one of our priorities in Rhode Island to make our schools and classrooms the safe, creative, and challenging learning environments our kids deserve,” said Wagner. “I thank Governor Raimondo and the school and community leaders in Pawtucket for their commitment to improving the quality and safety of our classrooms and school buildings.”
- Mayor Donald R. Grebien