Cumberland students to start year remotely; District moves forward with renovations project
CUMBERLAND, R.I. (WLNE) — The Cumberland School Committee voted 4-3 to begin the school year remotely Thursday night. The announcement coming ahead of Governor Gina Raimondo’s anticipated decision for a return to schools on Monday.
Many parents in the district were surprised by the early decision.
“As a parent of a child going into kindergarten and another going into 4th grade, it’s very upsetting,” said Cumberland parent, Mike Dube.
“I feel there’s ways they could have kept them in the school system — especially at the elementary level,” Dube said.
But others disagree.
“Personally, I’m okay with the decision,” said parent Heather Herring, who admitted remote learning was a challenge for her two kids in the spring.
“This has given us the opportunity to plan more deeply,” said Superintendent Bob Mitchell about the decision.
“Our plan is to align distance learning more closely with the instruction students would receive in classrooms,” he said.
The superintendent said the early decision also benefits the district with another project: their previously-approved plan to upgrade and renovate all 10 school buildings in the district.
Earlier this week, the state approved the $83 million plan, which was previously approved by nearly 80% of voters in 2018.
The project will add more space to undersized elementary schools in the district, replace HVAC systems in all schools, and upgrade classrooms and laboratories.
Superintendent Bob Mitchell says remote learning will benefit architects, who will begin their measurements and designs in the fall. With no students or staff in the buildings, architects will have more time and less obstacles for their planning.
Nearly 60 percent of the renovation project is set to be funded by state bonds, as long as the district can complete the projects in 5 years or less.
They hope to break ground on the upgrades next summer.