Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 04-18-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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4 WOONSOCKET APRIL 18-24, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION WOONSOCKET – After several months of renovations and more than a year of planning, the students and staff of RISE Prep Mayoral Academy have officially moved into their new school building at 30 Cumberland St. School administrators held a cer- emonial ribbon cutting last Friday, April 12, attended by parents and members of the school's board of directors and the community. Students began attending classes in the building April 1, and parents had their first look at the renova- tions during parent-teacher confer- ences later that week. Rosalind DaCruz, the school's founder, told The Valley Breeze the new building will offer more space and a better classroom setup than the school's prior location, a leased space at 1 Social St. The former office building, once home to a Blockbuster Video, was most recently owned by the Seven Hills Foundation. The nonprofit agency sold the building to RISE Prep in January. "This just has more space, more opportunity for small group learn- ing, whole group learning," she said. DaCruz referred to the opposi- tion the school had faced in moving to the new building. Last summer, after learning of the charter school's plans, members of the City Council voted to file a lawsuit to prevent the school from opening in the new building on the basis it was located in a commercial zoning district. The lawsuit was the third filed by the council in three years in an attempt to block the public charter school. In January, Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter ruled that the school could relocate to 30 Cumberland St., affirming a decision by the city zoning official that its sta- tus as a "municipal use" exempted it from the city zoning ordinance. "This building will serve as a reminder to us every day that noth- ing worth having will come easy," she told those gathered. DaCruz told The Valley Breeze that RISE Prep is not alone in facing opposition. Districts across the coun- try have dealt with controversy as an increasing number of options for parents and students results in great- er competition for education dollars. "Nationwide, there's pushback against charters. We always knew that there could be, but we thought there was a need in the community," she said. While the council has made its opposition to the school clear, that view is not shared by Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, who serves as chair- woman of RISE Prep's board of directors. Baldelli-Hunt reaffirmed her commitment to publicly funded charter schools, saying she would continue to advocate for all types of education to suit student needs. "I will support any additional schools that look to come into the city of Woonsocket so that we can support any opportunities that we can for our children," she said. Baldelli-Hunt also said she hopes RISE Prep and the city's traditional public schools can develop a better relationship in the future. "My hope way back when I first got involved in the school was that there would be more collaboration between the traditional public and the public charter, and that is a goal that we still have," she said after the ceremony. For parents, the new building is a welcome change for a school that had quickly outgrown its former space. RISE Prep opened in 2015 to 46 kindergarten students with the goal of expanding by one grade every year to a K–8 model. Now in its fourth year, the school serves approximately 320 students from Woonsocket, North Smithfield and Burrillville. Another 275 stu- dents from Woonsocket have placed their names on a waiting list, hoping for admission in the future. The new building, said DaCruz, includes a cafeteria and multipur- pose space large enough to host events with parents. While renova- tions are complete on the first and second floors, the building's third and fourth floors have not yet been converted from office space. The school plans to complete those reno- vations over the summer to prepare the space for future expansion. Woonsocket councilors are appeal- ing Taft-Carter's decision to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, while in North Smithfield, members of the town's School and Budget Committees lamented the increas- ing cost of tuition payments to RISE Prep during a budget meeting last week. Due to the expansion of the school's student body, tuition pay- ments from North Smithfield to RISE Prep are expected to increase from $284,200 to $405,600 for the upcoming academic year. But for parents, the groundbreak- ing was an exciting moment that sig- naled a new stage in their children's education. Jason DelSanto, a parent of a kin- dergarten student from Woonsocket, said he was impressed with the new building compared with the school's former space. "It's like night and day. This is just amazing," he said, adding, "I wish every school had this, but they don't." RISE Prep Academy moves into new building By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer BREEZE PHOTOS BY LAUREN CLEM Students, administrators and board members gathered for a ribbon cutting at RISE PREP MAYORAL ACADEMY'S new location at 30 Cumberland St. last Friday, April 12. Pictured fom left are board member Jerry Leveille, 3rd grader Cesar Vazquez of Woonsocket, Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, 3rd grader Sophia Tetreault of Woonsocket, board member John Gregory, 3rd grader Jack Pontbriand of Woonsocket, 3rd grader Anaira Alicea and Director of Operations Amy Rodriguez. The school recently completed renovations on the first two floors of its new building at 30 CUMBERLAND ST. LOOKING FOR WORK? Visit Click on 'Jobs' REALTOR ® Licensed in RI & MA Eric Brouillard PROPERTIES 261 Main St., Suite 201 North Smithfield Rhode Island 02896 Cell: 401-569-2725 Office: 401-356-1519 Stearns/McGee Team REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL LEGAL SERVICES The Housing Authority of the City of Woonsocket, Rhode Island is accepting proposals from qualified firms or individuals for Legal Services for General Counsel and Labor & Employment. Submission date is Monday, May 20, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. at the Woonsocket Housing Authority at 679 Social Street, Woonsocket, RI 02895. The RFP package will be available on line at in Bid Opportunities under the Procurement heading. Questions regarding this proposal may be directed to Susan Castrataro at 401-767-8062 or Robert R. Moreau Executive Director An Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action Employer TDD 1-800-745-6575

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