Closed Providence school renovated and transformed into Narducci Learning Center

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — An abandoned Providence school has been renovated and reopened as a state-of-the-art learning center.

After more than 10 years of sitting closed and abandoned on Paul Street, the former Windmill Street Elementary School is now the Narducci Learning Center for Pre-K through 8th-grade students.

It is named after former Providence city councilman Nick Narducci.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the learning center Tuesday afternoon, Governor Dan McKee said the building will leave a lasting legacy for the former councilman and his family.

“The councilman has spent decades working to ensure this building was refurbished and ready to educate generations of students to come,” said McKee.

Narducci said the building has been through a lot, and he had to ensure it was used properly.

“We had homeless people living here. We had kids vandalizing the inside. We had numerous fires in this school,” said Narducci. “As you look around this community, you can just look in the back here, every one of these houses is well taken care of, well-groomed lawns, and it wasn’t fair to them for the last ten years looking at this school boarded up.”

Providence Public Schools said the learning center is part of a more than $600 million plan to upgrade Providence Public School buildings and raise the percentage of students learning in high-quality learning spaces from just 5% to 50%.

Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said there was a band-aid approach to repairing schools for years, but that is changing.

“Not being safe, not meeting the standards, for our students and our teachers. Multiple times we heard about buckets having to be put in the front of the room,” said Infante-Green. “In the last 10 years, Providence opened up one new school which was PCTA. This year we’re opening up three.”

State, city, and school leaders toured the inside of the newly renovated building, including classrooms, the cafeteria, and the media center.

Providence Mayor Brett Smiley listed the city’s contributions and plans for education in the city.

“The city made over a $30 million investment into this building alone. I want to thank the city and its taxpayers for their commitment to a $140 million capital bond, but it’s because our students and our families deserve it and that’s part of our 10-year commitment to invest $400 million,” said Smiley.

The Charles Street neighborhood can be proud of the new school, but local kids living in the neighborhood are not automatically registered.

Narducci Learning Center will provide “swing space” as schools are renovated.

Pleasant View Elementary students will be bussed from the other side of the city to Narducci, while their school is remodeled this year.

Kizirian Elementary School will use the Narducci Learning Center for the following school year.

Providence Public Schools said a renovated like-new William D’ABate Elementary School and Pre-K-5 Spaziano Campus are expected to open this fall.

Spaziano will expand in 2025 for grades 6 through 8.

by TEMI-TOPE ADELEYE, NBC 10 NEWS Tue, September 5th 2023 at 5:53 PM