New and improved Johnston school building projects on the horizon?


Johnston Schools may be consolidated and upgraded following a proposed $190 million overhaul of facilities throughout the district.

Prior to Wednesday night’s Johnston Town Council public hearing and special meeting, the School Committee will meet for a public visual presentation of proposed new school buildings and old building upgrades.

One item is listed on the School Committee meeting agenda: “Presentation of the phase II school building construction plans by SLAM for submission to the Rhode Island Department of Education.”

The School Committee and the audience will view a presentation detailing plans for a new early childhood center, a new town-wide elementary school, and renovations for the middle and high schools.

“We wanted to do a joint meeting so both committees could hear the information on the facilities upgrades for the district,” said Johnston Schools Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo Jr. “The architectural firm, the SLAM Collaborative, has put together a visual presentation.”

The School Committee meeting has been slated for 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 15, an hour prior to the scheduled Town Council meeting on the agreement between Johnston and Amazon.

Although the tax agreement with Amazon is not directly tied to school funding, a successful agreement could drastically boost the town’s tax base, providing more cash for school building projects.

The meeting will be held in the Johnston High School Auditorium, 345 Cherry Hill Road.

The district is examining multiple options, but ultimately hopes to build two new schools: a new early childhood center for preschool and Kindergarten students, and a new elementary school for grades one through four.

The district would also like to renovate the middle school and the high school, installing new heating, air condition, ventilation, science labs and more.

“The current early childhood center, which is attached to the middle school, will become a fifth grade academy,” DiLullo said. “Essentially it will become a self-contained facility for our fifth grade classes.”

The academy will provide a specialized learning space for students in their “transitional year” between elementary and middle school, when students are often “a little old for the elementary level, not old enough for middle school,” DiLullo said. 

Although an overall price tag has not been finalized, the building projects and upgrade costs are currently estimated around $190 million.

“The cost has not been finalized,” DiLullo said. “The architects are still working on that, but we’re looking at about $190 million for the two new buildings and upgrades at the high school and middle school.”

Town education officials are hoping the state will help cover a large portion of the cost of new buildings and renovations.

“Because of the state incentives, the town could receive between 50 and 60 percent reimbursement,” DiLullo said.


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