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A Hummel Report Investigation

Sooner or Later?

After years of deferred maintenance, North Providence has schools that need major repairs or replacement. But will taxpayers foot the bill for an estimated $75 million price tag to solve the problem? The reinstatement of a state program that will reimburse a substantial amount of those costs may make the price tag a more attractive sell - and prompt other communities to tackle construction projects they’ve put on hold the past several years.

Click here to read the Torrado architects report (large pdf).


For nearly a century the two-story brick school on Mineral Spring Avenue has educated thousands of students living in the eastern end of North Providence.
Built in the 1920, Marieville Elementary has served the community well. But take a closer look inside and you’ll see a building that has become a headache for maintenance crews and the administration.
Outdated electrical and heating systems, and a deteriorating roof on a gymnasium added in 1960 that just cost taxpayers $19,000 to repair. No one in town would argue that Marieville has become a money pit.
And it is not alone.
Smith: ``I was somewhat shocked at what I saw out in the schools that they had been neglected for many years.’’
Melinda Smith became school superintendent in North Providence 2 ½ years ago. Years of deferred maintenance left Smith shaking her head as she toured the nine school buildings across town.
Smith: ``And I didn’t realize there was so much work that needed to be done in the area of electrical work. Then the roofs, it’s something you just don’t focus on until you get a leak.’’
Marieville School, located adjacent to these power lines, is one of three elementary schools showing their age, along with Stephen Olney and Maguire - all are more than 80 years old.
Hummel: ``Where is your greatest need right now?’’
Smith: ``We have three buildings that were built in the 1930s so those three schools need immediate upgrade. Marieville and Maguire, the exit out of the top floors is by fire escape, so God forbid that the stairwells were on fire, the students would have to exit out the windows down a fire escape.’’
The school department formed a 12-member school building and hired Torrado Architects to take a comprehensive look at all of the school buildings. In early 2014 it issued this 431-page report.
Smith says the company came up with more than a dozen options, one costing upwards of $120 million. That has since been revised down to $75 million and calls for replacing Stephen Olney and Maguire with two brand new schools and eventually knocking down Marieville. The figure also includes $16 million in pressing upgrades and repairs needed throughout the system.

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