Land cleared for new Johnston Elementary Center

Mayor expects school to open for 2026-27 school year


Construction crews have begun clearing land at the future site of the new Johnston Elementary Center.

“With the land clearing now taking place, the new elementary school is becoming a reality,” said Johnston Public Schools Superintendent Bernard DiLullo Jr. “The project has begun on schedule with an anticipated fall 2026 opening date.”

“We will have a formal groundbreaking ceremony some time in March or April,” DiLullo said. “Exciting times are ahead as we watch the construction of this beautiful new facility.”

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr. confirmed that “construction started this month and is scheduled to be completed by May of 2026.”

“With summer vacation starting a month after the target date, this timeline gives us enough maneuverability to deal with any potential delays that may come up so the building can be open for that new school year,” Polisena explained. “It will be fully operational by the beginning of the 2026-27 school year.”

The scope and timeline of the project has had to shift since a $215 million school construction bond was approved by voters in 2022.

“The main benefit to starting the project now as opposed to last year is the interest rates, but in a good way,” Polisena said. “We borrowed $85 million back on Sept. 29 (2022). I tried to take advantage of high-interest rates and since September 2022, we’ve earned $5 million in just interest on that $85 million, at around a 4.5-5% rate of return on the principal. This is enough in interest to pay for one year’s debt service payment. I am trying use the high rate environment, which is normally a detriment, to our benefit, in order to maximize our earnings to achieve full potential on the borrowing.”


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