The health of our students is paramount. This is affected by the health of our public school buildings.
The Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy was commissioned by the State of Rhode Island to review the status of the Providence Public School District. The report, released last summer, was sobering. Language used to describe the findings includes: damning, devastating, bleak, blistering, and scathing. Much of the report focuses on the condition of school facilities with evidence of crumbling buildings, asbestos, peeling paint, and plumbing and water quality issues. The Washington Post noted, “The worst [school conditions] reduced seasoned members of the review team to tears” (June 27, 2019).
PPS has a vested interested in the city’s public schools because 70% of our members live in the city and our office is located in the oldest standing public school building in Providence, which last year celebrated its 250th anniversary. During the MEP nomination period, PPS was contacted by Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune who suggested that we consider Hope High School. Following a site visit, PPS was saddened by the condition of the once state-of-the-art and now fire-damaged auditorium. As exterior work is currently taking place at the school, we decided to use Hope High School auditorium as an exemplar of the condition of public school buildings throughout Providence.
Fortunately for Hope High School, a group of dedicated alumni are taking matters into their own hands to restore, repair, and reinstate the theater facility. They have a fundraising goal of $13 million to realize the preservation plan laid out by LLB Architects.
Listing Hope High School Auditorium as an example of the deteriorating condition of Providence Public School buildings, PPS intends to raise awareness of the effects of deferred maintenance and lack of funding for capital improvements. Our public school students deserve better.