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EDlection2018: Rhode Island Voters Approve $250M Bond to Fix State’s Ailing Public Schools

By Taylor Swaak | November 7, 2018

EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

Rhode Island will be allowed to borrow $250 million to repair its ailing public school buildings after widespread voter approval Tuesday.

The ballot measure to secure the largest state bond ever passed with 76.6 percent in favor to 23.4 percent against, the Providence Journal reported.

The bond relief comes as the state stomachs more than $2.2 billion in estimated costs to upgrade deficient facilities. Schools in the Ocean State are on average 56 years old, a 2017 “State of Rhode Island Schoolhouses” report found.

An estimated $627 million is required to bring all schools to a minimal standard of “warm, safe & dry.” Another $250 million bond will go on the ballot in 2022.

“Every child deserves to go to a school that is … equipped for 21st century learning,” General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who led Gov. Gina Raimondo’s campaign to repair the schools, told the Providence Journal. “Tonight, Rhode Island took a big first step toward a once-in-a-generation investment.”

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This is the first statewide bond in 30 years, Magaziner has said.

While organizations such as Children’s Friend, Rhode Island’s oldest child welfare agency, supported the measure, it wasn’t without its critics.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, a free-market think tank, said in a Nov. 2 statement that the measure “bails out irresponsible city/town and school officials” and “lacks any long-term vision.”

EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

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