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After all the votes were counted in 2022, from the governor’s race to dog catcher (actually I don’t think anyone elects a dog catcher), the most impactful outcomes were likely the billion dollars in school construction projects that voters authorized across Rhode Island.

The result is an infusion of not only dollars but enthusiasm and hope if we measure by the impact that already completed projects have had on communities. One only has to look at East Providence, where voters in 2018 approved by a three-to-one margin a nearly $189 million bond issue to build a new high school. And in November, the city’s voters again approved a significant school construction bond, $148 million earmarked for various projects, and this time by a four to one margin.

Obviously, East Providence voters were encouraged by the construction of what has been called a state-of-the-art high school, one that is modern, safe, clean, and equipped with the latest in educational methodology.

So, across Rhode Island voters by an overwhelming margin approved similar projects, with one exception. While voters in Middletown approved a $200 million plus school construction project and merging schools with neighboring Newport, voters in Newport rejected regionalization by a slim margin. Since Middletown’s school construction vote hinged on the passage also of regionalization, that too failed.

Here’s what voters did approve:

  • In Westerly, where voters twice before rejected school construction bonds, a $50 million bond to build a new elementary school and renovate others, passed easily.
  • Providence voters approved a $125 million bond for elementary and high school renovations, with 90 percent approval.
  • Pawtucket voters overwhelmingly approved a $330 million bond to build its first new high school in 80 years. It will be built on the McCoy Stadium site.
  • North Providence voters overwhelmingly approved a $125 million bond for construction and renovations to elementary schools and the high school.
  • East Providence voters approved the $148 million bond to renovate and expand the middle school, Martin pre-k, and renovations to Waddington Elementary School.
  • Warwick, where many had predicted the school bond would fail, approved a $350 million bond to replace Pilgrim and Toll Gate High Schools.

The collective impact of these projects will not only be felt in the classroom but in construction and other jobs related to the projects.