Construction begins on Chariho Alternative Learning Academy

Construction begins on Chariho Alternative Learning Academy


WOOD RIVER JUNCTION — On Aug. 8, after years of lobbying and planning, construction finally began on the new Chariho school for students with special needs. Formerly known as the RYSE School, the facility will now be known as the Chariho Alternative Learning Academy.

At its Aug. 2 meeting, the building committee awarded the contract for the project to the Ahlborg Construction Corporation of Warwwick, which submitted the lowest bid of $4,675,000. Ahlborg faces a tight timeline, because the new school will open in the fall of 2018.

“The building committee took a giant step forward with the contractor’s bid award to Ahlborg Construction Corporation,” Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci said. “We expect quick mobilization on this important project. The building committee and I are so appreciative of the community for its support of an equitable education for all students.”

The school has operated out of leased trailers since 2004. The new building, an addition to the middle school, will remain a separate facility. The Providence architectural firm, Robinson Green Beretta, is designing and managing the project at a cost of $364,000.

The Rhode Island Department of Education has approved $5.2 million for a new building and will reimburse the district for up to 65 percent of the cost of construction. The Chariho towns will pay the remaining cost. Last November, voters in the three towns approved a bond of up to $6 million.

Ahlborg has extensive experience with large-scale municipal and educational facilities in Rhode Island, including the new South Kingstown recreation center and an addition to the School of Nursing at the Fogarty Life Sciences building at Rhode Island College.

Lisa Macaruso, who chairs the building committee, said that after meeting company Vice President Glenn R. Ahlborg and Senior Estimator Jim Plante, she was confident that the committee had made the right choice.

“They were the lowest bidder, but more importantly they are a great fit for this very special, long-awaited project,” Macaruso said. “Glenn and Jim were highly responsive to our need to budget as tightly as possible while helping to maintain the vision of the building committee. We are currently engaging in a value engineering process to balance these ends.”

The academy will not only have a new building when it opens in September 2018, it will also have a new director. The current director, Carolyn Garlick, is leaving the Chariho district at the end of the month.

“Her mother is very ill, and she lives in Fall River,” Ricci said. “So she’s leaving to take care of her mother.”

As the search for a new director continues, Ricci said the district is also developing and enhancing the programs at the school. One of them is a computerized point system to encourage students to meet their goals.

“We’ve already put some pieces in place to improve our program,” he said. “We use a point level system. Kids earn reinforcing points when they are meeting their goals, and we’ve computerized that.”

Administrators are also looking at new ways to intervene when traditional disciplinary methods like detentions and suspensions are not effective.

“It’s about getting to the underlying factors for what’s causing the disorder,” Ricci explained. “The strategy is called ‘collaborative and proactive solutions.’ We’re going to be implementing that, and there’s training taking place this summer with all the staff. So we’re making a number of strategic moves to improve our program.”


Support Quality Local Journalism

Latest Videos