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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence city councilors tabled a vote on approving a lease agreement for a charter school to remain in its current West End location.
The lease would allow Achievement First Promesa Mayoral Academy Elementary School to continue using the Charles N. Fortes Elementary School on Daboll Street where it’s been operating for the past year under a licensing agreement signed by former Mayor Jorge Elorza.
The agreement would give the charter an option to extend the agreement for an additional 20 years for a total period of 40 years.
On Thursday, the council was scheduled to vote to authorize Mayor Brett Smiley’s lease agreement with Achievement First. Smiley also chairs the Achievement First Rhode Island Board.
At a special meeting on Thursday, the council was presented with a proposal to make the lease term a period of five years, with the option to extend it up to 25 years. The revised lease was submitted just before the session started, so councilors decided to table the matter until a special session next Tuesday to give them time to review it.
On Friday, Mayor Smiley said he has been trying to facilitate a discussion between the council, Achievement First, and his office.
“It’s important to me that we one, get a lease, and two, that it be sufficiently long-term so that Achievement First can make the capital improvements into the building that they’ve said they’re going to,” the mayor explained. “And if they’re going to make that capital improvement, they should have the benefit of having security to know they’ll be in the building for a long time.”
Jacqui Alessi, Achievement First’s associate chief of strategic communications, previously told Target 12 there are “various projects requested by the school awaiting feasibility studies,” including repairs to the parking lot, building a common area playground, repairing corridors and classrooms, upgrading bathroom and plumbing, and improving the school’s public announcement and emergency address systems.
The original and amended lease agreements both stipulate an annual rent of $1.
“Taxpayers should be excited about this fact,” Smiley said. “Someone else is paying for these renovations to educate a public school student in a public building.”
“I’m going to continue to fight for this lease to get approved,” he added. “I’m going to fight to ensure that it is long-term to justify the capital improvements.”
The Promesa Elementary School currently enrolls 372 students in grades K-3 in the Fortes building. Alessi said the school was planning to serve K-4 students next year, as enrollment was projected to increase to 465 students.
Adriana Rozas Rivera contributed to this report.
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