Cranston moving into the ‘new era’ of learning with rebuilt elementary schools

CRANSTON, R.I. (WLNE) – Cranston Public Schools are in the middle of some major renovations that school officials say will change the way students are taught in the classroom on a day-to-day basis. Construction on several elementary schools is currently underway, including a complete $53 million knockdown and makeover of the Garden City School.

In a recent exclusive tour of the new facilities, school officials gave ABC6 the look at the latest technologies and designs being implemented, to be used to shift teaching styles from the ways we’ve all been used to, into the new modern way of schooling.

Although construction workers are in the field now, as Garden City is on track to be completed in time for students to start classes next September, the school was really built long before a single hammer was used.

“The school has been built in the last year with the involvement of the teachers and the students,” said Edward Collins, the chief facilities director at Cranston public schools. “We allowed them to come in and help design the space that they’re going to be occupying. [This is] different from the way most schools are being built.”

After Garden City is completed, the Gladstone school will get underway after, along with the second half of Eden Park School.

All three of these schools will include a revitalized design of learning commons, breakout spaces, libraries, and labs. When you walk into these schools, you won’t be entering a typical classroom. Instead of the typical desk and chairs, you’re used to seeing the school will instead be an entirely open concept.

“The walls can be written on. They’re all whiteboard walls. They can be projected on because they’re screens,” said Jennifer Cowart, communications specialist with the school district. “Some of the furniture can be written on. The furniture is very flexible, there’s flexible seating.”

“Our schools were some of the most aging school buildings in the state and we needed to improve them,” Cowart added.

At Eden Park, the new designs were introduced to students last year, and school officials say they’re seeing immediate results. Garden City will continue to follow these connective designs and plan to go even further, making every square foot of the building focused entirely on the students.

“No more hallways. Every single square foot of this building has an educational value,” Edward Collins said.

So far, the results speak for themselves.

“Student engagement is up. Attendance is up. Kids are excited to come to school and learn,” Cowart said.

According to Collins, the price tag for Garden City was raised by approximately 31% more than what was originally budgeted for. This was mostly due to inflation and other supply chain issues that have affected many industries.

He added a large part of the $53 million price tag was covered in large part through grants awarded. In the long run, he says the total cost was worth it because from what they’ve seen since the start of this project, they have noticed improvements across the board.

Categories: Cranston, News, Rhode Island