High schools set for 2025 groundbreaking

Posted 6/13/24

The Warwick School Committee learned Tuesday that planning for new Pilgrim and Toll Gate High Schools are on schedule from Chris Spiegel, senior project manager at LeftField Project Management based …

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High schools set for 2025 groundbreaking


The Warwick School Committee learned Tuesday that planning for new Pilgrim and Toll Gate High Schools are on schedule from Chris Spiegel, senior project manager at LeftField Project Management based in Boston.

Groundbreaking for the schools is slated for mid-March 2025, Director of Capital Projects Steve Gothberg said yesterday.

Spiegel stressed that both high schools are still on time and on budget, though some changes have been made to building plans based on a value management of their schematic designs.

“There have been no changes to the quality or the educational scope of the program,” Spiegel said. “The majority of the changes have to do with the constructability of the buildings and reining in some unnecessary design and embellishment. We have to remember that prior to the onboarding of these consultants- including LeftField and Dimeo- the design was completed in a vacuum. When things are completed in a vacuum, you don’t often get all of the other feedback that you get from the people that are going to build the project, the people that are going to be managing the project.”

Among the changes made, Spiegel said, were the electrical services for the buildings, which he said was oversized and the floors of the kitchens to tile for cost-effectiveness.

Spiegel estimated that the schematic design and an accompanying website for the public to visit would be available to view in 6-8 weeks. He said LeftField wanted to make sure they had RIDE approval before making the designs available for the public.

According to Spiegel, over the past month LeftField has brought every construction consultant on. LeftField has also held preliminary meetings with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), which Spiegel said has been supportive of the work thus far.

The next steps, Spiegel said, will include the submission of the schematic designs for Pilgrim and Toll Gate will be submitted to RIDE, which will occur over the next few weeks, as well as a new round of design development.

“Education has changed substantially over the last 50-60 years, and we understand these buildings need to change for them,” Spiegel said. “The spaces that we are designing encourage creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking- these are the skills that are in high demand, and we want to make sure that our spaces reflect that in the design.”

Spiegel said that he would like to have a public forum about the buildings’ designs after they are approved by RIDE.

Elementary school work

Gothberg said that Pilgrim and Toll Gate aren’t the only schools that are expected to be completed on time, as Oakland Beach Elementary School will be ready to return to their building in September.

“Believe it or not, the switchgear arrived ten days early, and is being installed as of 6/10,” Gothberg said. “Finishers are being installed, exterior doors are being installed, [Director of Facilities and Operations Director Kevin] Oliver’s custodial team is inside cleaning room-by-room, following behind as we finish areas, and the movers start moving back 6/21.”

Holliman Elementary School is expected to move into the Gorton Administration Building as soon as Oakland Beach is moved out. Work on Holliman is expected to begin in mid-August.

Work on playgrounds at Sherman and Oakland Beach has been completed, according to Gothberg, with work planned for those at Greenwood and Hoxsie Elementary Schools and the Warwick Early Learning Center (WELC).

SRO requested

Winman Middle School teacher Julie Connors-Costello also beseeched the School Committee to make sure that the school had a School Resource Officer (SRO) for the next school year. The SRO, Connors-Costello said, is needed to curb a rise in bullying at the school, mentioning that an incident that occurred on May 22 left a Winman student hospitalized.

It has been a year and a half, according to Connors-Costello, that Winman has been without an SRO.

Galligan said that that would not continue another summer, noting that funding for an SRO is in WPS’s upcoming budget.

New accounting system

Finance Director Brandon Bohl announced that the School Department would switch to Munis as its new accounting system, noting that the department’s current accounting system was outdated, and the switch would improve his department’s efficiency.

The system is currently used by ten other school departments around the state, as well as in Warwick’s city government. Synchronizing the system that the school department uses with the city’s, Bohl said, would be a major benefit.

“At year end, when we’re going through our financial statement audit with the City of Warwick, there is a lot of data mismatch, and we’re running certain reports in a different format than they’re running them, and we end up having to reconcile data,” Bohl said.

 “The hope is that when we switch over to Munis and we’re using the same reporting system, there won’t be that data mismatch anymore. They’ll run one report, we’ll run the same report, compare numbers- we’ll be good.”

Galligan also gave a shout out to Lippitt Elementary School, which has jumped from being the thirteenth-best performing elementary school in the district last year to the third-best this year. That progress, committee members said, was a very welcome sight.

“We’ve come a long way,” committee member Karen Bachus said. “This district has come so far in the decade that I’ve been here, and it’s really moved significantly since the current administration came to be only a few short years ago. I’m excited to see what else we can do for the city and for the kids a few years from now.”

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  • rpetrarca16

    Does anyone besides me wonder why Warwick is not building one high school that could have a great campus instead of two separate schools?

    Tuesday, June 25 Report this