Council, district look for support on $7 million Burrillville school bond

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BURRILLVIILE – Burrillville voters will decide if public schools in town will receive some $7.2 million in needed repairs over the next five years with their vote on Question #1 on the town’s General Election ballot.

The money will finance a long list of repairs for all five Burrillville public schools, from upgraded media centers, to roofs and boilers.

The council voted unanimously in January to approve the five-year, $7.2 million improvement plan, with more than half the funding expected to come back to the town through housing aid reimbursements from the Rhode Island Department of Education.

The referendum would, “authorize issuance of bonds for up to $7,000,000 to
finance construction, renovation, improvement, alteration, repair, landscaping, furnishing and equipping of schools and school facilities throughout the town,” with all projects to be completed by June 30 of 2025.

Total costs for the renovations are estimated at $7,214,340, with the remaining $214,340 to be funded from the town’s capital reserve.

During a town meeting to discuss the initiative earlier this year, Town Manager Michael Wood noted that the town will not have to draw down the full $7 million if all of the money is not needed, and the bond can be paid back for up to 30 years. Interest is projected at $2.9 million over the life of the loan.

If the bond is approved by voters, reimbursement of 45-60 percent is expected from RIDE.

And in a letter aimed at gaining support from the community, Supt. Michael Sollitto noted that many of the projects are long overdue. The funds would replace elements of buildings that are more than 30 years old including windows at the high school gymnasium, the hot water system at Austin T. Levy Elementary School and the boiler at Burrillville Middle School.

Also on the list of slated repairs is replacement of 20-year-old roof shingles at the Burrillville High School gym, and renovation of the media center at the school priced at $396,000. Steere Farm Elementary would see replacement of a 25 plus year-old roof, and Callahan would replace a 20 year-old boiler.

HVAC work aimed at creating energy savings will be completed at all five schools at a cost of either $24,000 or $30,000 each.

“Burrillville has a unique opportunity to save more than $3.6 million and make much needed and long overdue repairs to our school buildings but only if you, our taxpayers, approve the plan,” noted Sollitto. “With the uncertainty of future state budgets, now is the time for us as a town to take advantage of this state initiative.”

“These are all projects that will make our schools safer and save us significant money,” he  noted in a letter this week.

The expected useful life of projects are between 10 and 25 years.

The complete referendum can be found here.

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