While not a survey specific to Warwick schools, Superintendent Phil Thornton is encouraged by the recently released poll by the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University showing Rhode Islanders support the governor’s proposed $250 million state bond issue for public school repair and construction.
Conducted by Fleming & Associates of Cumberland at a cost of more than $9,000 between Feb. 12 and Feb. 15, 2018, the telephone poll surveyed 422 registered voters, including 122 respondents with children in local schools. It found that, in addition to 65 percent support for the statewide bond, voters give public schools a passing grade.
“The public opinion poll conducted by the Hassenfeld Institute reinforces the real need to make repairs and upgrades to our schools,” Thornton said in an email. “Two-thirds of the people surveyed favor the governor’s bond proposal and respondents also identified school facility conditions as the highest priority among a ranking of issues facing School Committees.”
Last year, the Warwick School Committee advanced a proposal for an $85 million Warwick bond to upgrade school buildings over the next five years. The bond would have addressed a plethora of issues, from the replacement of boilers and new roofs to improved security systems, lighting, doors and fire alarm systems.
After visits to all school buildings and numerous meetings, the City Council approved a reduced $40 million bond on the eve of the Feb. 1 deadline for schools to submit its request to the Rhode Island Department of Education. Depending on voter approval of the statewide bond and projects the city would complete, Warwick could be eligible for a 50 percent reimbursement from the state.
Warwick’s application is now under review by RIDE.
In order for the Warwick bond to appear on the ballot it will require General Assembly approval.
House Majority Leader and Warwick Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi said Tuesday he sees no reason, since it received unanimous council support, that the bond would not gain legislative approval. He said that once the council resolution has been transmitted to the General Assembly it would be given a hearing before the House Municipal Government Committee.
The survey addressed a variety of issues relating to Rhode Island’s K-12 school system and has a margin of error of 4.77 percent. The principle findings of the survey include: