November 14, 2016
Blackstone Valley Prep, a mayoral charter school, broke ground on a new $10-million high school Monday on the site of a former lumber center in Valley Falls.
The charter network, which operates six schools in northern Rhode Island, holds a lease with Civic Builders, a New York-based company that specializes in charter school construction, to build a 40,000-square-foot building that includes a dedicated "maker" space, a small technical lab for creative thinking and designing. The two-story facility will also include a combined cafeteria and auditorium, a gymnasium, a dozen core classrooms and two science labs.
The charter school has a lease-back agreement with Civic Builders with the option to purchase the facility in the future. Civic Builders will oversee the construction project.
The charter high school was located in the former St. Joan of Arc Church in Cumberland, but was forced to look elsewhere after Bishop Thomas J. Tobin refused to extend BVP's lease. At the time, Daniel Ferris, superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese, said the bishop had decided that underused church facilities should not be leased to public schools that might compete with Catholic schools.
The new location at 15 Jones St. is ideal, BVP said, because it is within walking distance of two of the network's three elementary schools.
The existing high school has grades 9 through 11. When it grows to include 12th grade next fall, the school will have between 320 and 330 students, according to Jeremy Chiappetta, executive director of Blackstone Valley Prep.
"Our mission is to prepare our kids for college and the world beyond," Chiappetta said. "The final step for carrying them into college is our high school. We are fortunate to have so many families, teachers and staff who believe in this mission."
The high school hopes to be ready for the 2017-2018 school year. BVP is now looking for a new head of school.