When Coventry residents turn up at the polls on Nov. 6, they won't just be voting for local and national leaders, but will also be given the choice as to whether or not they will approve several school improvement bonds.
In recent (and in some cases, not so recent) years, Coventry students, faculty, staff and parents have dealt with leaky roofs, worn and cracked floors, outdated ventilation, heating and air quality systems as well as an athletic complex that leaves much to be desired.
To address these issues, six bond items have been placed on the Nov. 6 ballot to be voted on. Voters will be asked to approve #8) air quality and energy improvements to school and municipal buildings ($5 million), #9) school roof repairs and replacements ($5 million), #10) emergency improvements to Coventry high School fire systems ($400,000), #11) renovations and equipping of Coventry High School athletic complex ($1 million), #12) improvements to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at schools ($1.6 million) and #13) improvements to school grounds and flooring ($550,000).
Each of these projects (#9-13) have been reviewed and approved by the RI Department of Education which will reimburse the Town of Coventry 48.3% on each approved bond item. (This is a one-time offer that will not be presented again in the future if the items are not approved.)
Bond question #8 regarding the air quality and energy efficiency improvements to school and municipal buildings ($5 million) will not result in a tax increase for residents as debt service costs will be offset by projected energy savings.
See the attached PDF presentation to view information shown to residents and parents at a recent informational meeting held at CHS.
A nine-member bipartisan School Building Committee was approved by the Coventry Town Council in June and has been meeting regularly to address the upcoming bond referendum. Members have also met with Rhode Island Department of Education officials to discuss construction guidelines and establish a campaign to inform the public about the five bond items (#9-13) that will effect the school district.
Aside from fixing the aesthetics and functionality of the schools, more importantly, the passage of the bond items will protect Coventry High School's accreditation, which is likely to be stripped by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) in 2015 if the improvements are not completed. Loss of accreditation would make it extremely difficult if not impossible for CHS graduates to be accepted into an accredited college or university and would also wreak havoc on property values within the Town of Coventry. The school was placed on warning by NEASC Commission of Public Secondary Schools in Nov. 2010 pending progress made by the district. (See attached PDF files to view the complete report and decision letter from the NEASC Commission.)
- Every item is necessary and for the immediate health and safety of students and staff.
- All funds WILL be spent on these SPECIFIC items
- No tax increase for seniors
- The projected tax rate impact is estimated to be between 1 to 13 cents per $1,000.
- Example: If the average assessed home value is $250,000, the maximum per year total tax increase would be $32.50 (if 13 cents per $1,000) This is less than 10 cents per day.
- The tax rate impact will not take effect until July 2013.
- The Total Coventry School Bond Request is $8.55 million. State Reimbursement at 48.3% equals $4.139 million, beginning in Summer 2013.
In the coming days, Coventry Patch will publish five posts explaining each of the bond items in detail under the column heading "". Residents can also visit the school district's bond information website by clicking this sentence.