Pawtucket school getting $14 million makeover

A major renovation is getting underway at Potter Burns Elementary School in Pawtucket. (WJAR)

Major renovations are underway at Potter Burns Elementary School three years after a ceiling collapsed at the school.

"They deserve to go to a school where the ceiling isn't falling in on them. The paints not coming off the walls. The lights work," Gov. Gina Raimondo said during a news conference outside of the school, at 973 Newport Ave.

A new ceiling and energy-efficient windows will be installed at the school, as well as new interior and exterior entry ways and doors. The renovations are being paid for under a $32 million bond approved by voters in 2014. As the $13.8 million renovation gets underway, students have been moved to the old St. Leo the Great School, on Central Avenue, for the school year.

"Great schools create great cities and they also keep great cities growing," said Superintendent Patti DiCenso, of the Pawtucket School Department.

Potter Burns isn't the only school that will be renovated. Raimondo said about $20 million has been allocated for school construction across the state.

"One of the first things I did as governor was to lift the ban on new school buildings. It's time to reinvest in our schools," Raimondo said.

The renovation also includes installing three gender-neutral bathrooms -- one on each floor.

DiCenso said, "We wanted to make sure that we accommodated students that may have a reason to not be in a bathroom that either made them uncomfortable because they felt sick or uncomfortable because they did not want to be with other people."

When the upgrades are complete, the 97-year-old school will also see renovations to the school library and cafeteria.

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