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Friday, April 16, 2010

Council Places Moratorium on School Closings

 A resolution sponsored by City Councilman John J. Igliozzi (Ward 7), which places a moratorium on all school closings, was unanimously approved Thursday night by the Council. All Council members signed-on as co-sponsors.

The resolution calls for a moratorium on all school closures recommended in the school department’s 2010 Facilities Master Plan, and any other proposal by the school board and superintendent to close any of the Providence’s public schools. The move comes in response to the facilities plan, released in January, which recommended closing six schools.

Igliozzi stated that the impetus for the moratorium was the “lack of a clearly articulated plan by the school board and the superintendent as to the disposition of the school buildings should they be decommissioned.”

The councilman noted that schools are massive structures in dense, urban neighborhoods, and help provide stability. “Closing and boarding up such landmark buildings creates blight as a result of potential disrepair and vandalism. So, buildings that provide stability in our neighborhoods, will be abandoned and shuttered, and will in effect, destabilize our communities,” Igliozzi said.

One such school is Oliver Hazard Middle School, located in the councilman’s ward. In a separate resolution, Igliozzi has requested that the City renovate the school. “That school has been there since 1929. That building has educated children who lived through the Great Depression, two World Wars, and all the historic events of past eight decades,” said Igliozzi. “Now, the school and grounds, which span two city blocks, will sit vacant in the heart of the neighborhood. There is no plan by the school department for its reuse.”

The councilman made clear that the moratorium is a way to ensure fully completed plans for reuse and/or redevelopment of the significant school structures—many of which are historic, including Perry. The resolution states that the “moratorium will be in effect until such time the school board and superintendent present to the City Council and the public a plan for the utilization of any decommissioned school building, and/or a plan to renovate any such building for future use as school or other use.”

Councilman Igliozzi is looking forward to public discussions on the future use of schools the department has slated for closure.  

Visit http://www.providenceschools.org/ to read the 2010 Facilities Master Plan.