EDITORIAL

Aldrich bid is a winner

Posted

When something seems too good to be true, it’s wise to wait a little bit and feel out the situation for some more information – basically to make sure you’re not being taken for a fool.

But in the case of the bid to occupy the old Aldrich Middle School building and turn it into a bi-lingual charter school by the International Charter School of Pawtucket, the Warwick City Council, by holding the bid indefinitely while awaiting “more information,” actually seems to be probing for a flaw where there really isn’t one.

These are the facts.

The Aldrich Building site is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, so the potential uses for the property were limited by the Warwick Planning Department so as to not negatively impact traffic any further – no big box stores allowed in the shadow of an existing Walmart, for one.

The Aldrich property was assessed by Peter M. Scotti & Associates as being worth approximately $2,535,000. That same group also concluded that the best possible future use of the property would be a school.

The Planning Department concurred, adding a specific provision to the RFP asking that potential bidders do whatever was possible to preserve as much of the existing architecture as possible – which is certainly prettier than your run-of-the-mill, huge rectangular buildings that are so popular with modern designers.

The city received a grand total of one, singular bid – from the International Charter School. They offered to buy the property for $1.9 million outright and put $6.9 million of their own money into renovating the existing building and making it as nice as their undoubtedly tight budget would allow. They also offered to pay $70,000 a year through a payment in lieu of taxes program – something they absolutely are not required to do.

The value of that $70,000 a year is equivalent to the tax income of a commercial business worth $2,305,665, squarely in the ballpark of the city’s assessed value – and especially generous considering, again, that a PILOT program is completely voluntary by the school. Since the school has offered to pay this PILOT in perpetuity throughout its occupation of the building, and the school director made it clear that they intend to stay, the difference in assessed value would be made up in just a few years anyway.

Ah, but what about the damage the charter school would cause to Warwick Public Schools? What would happen if there was a wholesale departure from Warwick schools to ICS? State funding for those students would go to ICS that is also a public school.

Nope. Not in this case, at least. And there’s contract language on the table to ensure that. The International Charter School is on board with capping the number of Warwick student who can attend the charter each year at five – yes – as in one more than four and one less than six. That will not cause any discernible difference to the Warwick schools.

To belabor that point even further, the charter school has been operational for 17 years of enrollment, and they have received a grand total of 20 applications from students located in Warwick – out of more than 6,500 total applications in that time frame.

This is a good deal – almost too good to be true – for a building that nobody wants to see knocked down, and is inarguably fitted for a school use. The city is fortunate to have received it, as the school even has a noble mission of trying to empower bilingual students in the community. It is a good deal, let’s not lose it for an overabundance of unnecessary caution.

Comments

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richardcorrente

I am against charter schools in general. They take away from public school attendance and devaluate the neighborhood (usually). However, this is not the case here. We don't have many choices in the Aldrich School sale. We only have two. Sell it to the only buyer that has come forward and make a small profit which will reduce taxes needed from the rest of us in a "small" way. Or...do nothing, which accomplishes...nothing..

This buyer is not as great as we all want but it certainly is better than what we have, which is nothing. Although I wish we had many bidders to choose from, I support the sale. It's not the best show in town; it's the only one.

Happy Autumn everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, October 19
CrickeeRaven

Once again the fake "mayor" proves his total incapacity to read.

"They take away from public school attendance..." The editorial states that Warwick enrollment will be capped at 5.

He will no doubt continue his unbroken streak of humiliating himself in his next comments.

Friday, October 20
richardcorrente

Dear CrickeeRaven,

Please learn how to read.

When someone says "charter schools in general" that doesn't mean any particular school, like Aldrich.

You call me a "fake" and say I have a "total incapacity to read" and the exact opposite is true.

You use a "fake" name ( I don't) and you can't (or didn't) read the words in my first sentence.

Happy Autumn CrickeeRaven, whoever you are.

Happy Autumn everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Monday, October 23
CrickeeRaven

The fake "mayor" uses an imaginary title and does not own or manage this site, meaning he can not determine how others may use it, including the use of screen names.

He also can not resist statements like "make a small profit which will reduce taxes needed from the rest of us" when he has already proven his preferred method of reducing his own taxes: Just don't pay them.

Monday, October 23
markyc

What does/can the City of Warwick expect ? It places conditions on the sale that any new buyer would keep the columns/pillars at the front of the building. Many private businesses wouldn't want to deal with that restriction. Plus, it's a very tight area; limited parking, a residential neighborhood borders the property, a fire station is at its doorstep, & there is a marshy area behind it. The building itself requires upgrades if it is to remain any type of school/educational facility(fire upgrades & other improvements) many of which the proposed buyer will incur/pay for. On top of that, the bidder has volunteered in good faith to pay a PILOT amount of $ 70,000 to the City ; it may not be 100 % full value for tax purposes but I don't personally believe the City can expect much better. Should the City Council study & make sure the proposed bid is the best the City can do-yes; but don't drag it out too long.

Wednesday, October 25