Money Watchers: Central Falls schools get $10M from Gates

At the Segue Institute for Learning in Central Falls, founder and head of school Angelo Garcia says the building that houses the school is in need of major repairs.

Those repairs may soon be on the way because of a $10 million investment by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Tuesday.

Garcia said the school wants to add bathrooms, repair floors and install energy efficient windows.

"The other things that we'd like to do is make the building handicapped accessible. I tell my staff and my students all the time that even though we live in a poor community we should still be offered an optimal experience," Garcia said.

The money will provide low-interest financing so the Central Falls District Charter Collaborative can work with Civic Builders Inc. to improve facilities. Sixteen communities were chosen with $35 million spread out in total.

"We set a bar that this capital would be available to only those schools that met certain academic benchmarks," said Noah Wepman of the Gates Foundation.

Garcia said he doesn't know how much of the $10 million will go to the Segue Institute.

"Well, we want $11 million out of the $10 million. So, we want it all if we can get it all. However, because we are so close as a collaborative, I don't necessarily see it as just coming to Segue. So, if there's money coming to the district and they're repairing a building, (Central Falls Superintendent) Dr. (Frances) Gallo has always made that space available to us, so we'll benefit from that regardless," Garcia said.

Other cities in the Northeast are receiving some of the money, including Boston and Hartford, Conn. It's unclear how the money allocated for Rhode Island will be divided among the charter schools around Central Falls.