SMITHFIELD – Winsor Elementary School won’t be left empty for long as the city plans a potential lease with the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative, which focuses on providing specialized educational programs to students from different districts.
City manager Randy Rossi said plans are in the works for NRIC to move to Winsor Elementary School at 562 Putnam Pike in Greenville after the school closes.
Lease payments from the NRIC would help cover the cost of installing a sprinkler system in several sub-areas of the school and bringing it into ADA compliance.
The city would bear the up-front costs for the long-needed sprinkler system, Rossi said. He said this was a “win-win” situation for the city and the NRIC, which is currently located in Lincoln.
“It’s a great resource for us and the surrounding area,” said Rossi.
“And the building will not be mothballed either,” he added.
The NRIC staff could not be reached for comment.
Winsor Elementary has long been plagued by fire safety issues revolving around the library and several rooms on the lower level.
In 2018, 14 years after an initial derogation from the Fire Safety Act was issued to allow the school to operate, the Rhode Island Fire Safety Code Board granted a final extension to the end of the 2020-2021 school year when the school would close.
At the time, Supt. Judy Paolucci estimated the cost of the sprinkler system to be around $ 300,000, which she viewed as a waste on the city in the long run due to other shortcomings such as non-ADA compliance.
Paolucci, who is on the NRIC board of directors, said she worked with the city and NRIC on the deal and was glad the building won’t be vacant.
“The lease to this group will give the city some time during these unstable economic times to develop a long-term plan for the facility,” she said.
The NRIC works directly with students and provides professional development for individuals and schools as well as a transition center for students with disabilities and their families, teachers, service providers and other professionals.