Report: Rhode Island schools get failing grade, $627M needed in repairs

Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order creating the Rhode Island Schools Task Force to address failing infrastructure at schools and steps to address it. (WJAR)

Rhode Island schools received a failing grade when it comes to infrastructure and many of the state’s schools are in dire need of repairs, according to a report released by the Rhode Island Department of Education on Wednesday.

To bring the state’s 306 schools up to par, the state will need to invest $627.5 million in construction repairs, according to RIDE’s 2017 State of Rhode Island Schoolhouses. And the cost to get the schools in pristine condition is $2.2 billion, says the report.

"Our schools are getting a failing grade," Raimondo told the crowd at press conference at Kickemuit Middle School in Warren. "The average cost of just keeping our schools safe and dry is $600 million."

Raimondo, together with the Treasurer Seth Magaziner and RIDE Commissioner Ken Wagner, addressed recent concerns of mold, lead and other infrastructure issues such as falling ceiling tiles at schools that were built in the 1900s and on average have been in operation for 56 years.

Raimondo signed an executive order to create the Rhode Island Schools Task Force, which will get feedback from school districts and the public and report recommendations back to the Governor. The task force's duties include recommending specific ways to address the immediate health and safety issues identifed in the RIDE report, develop a plan for the transformation of school buildings, propose ways to tap into current resources and coming up with new sources of funding.

The task force must act quickly because it needs to submit a draft report to the governor before December 15 for legislation to be created for the governor to present to the General Assembly for next year's budget.

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