Transformation at Cranston Public Schools

Published Date
November 2019
Eden Park Elementary School
Eden Park Elementary School

A major transformation is underway at Cranston Public Schools. As one of the largest cities in Rhode Island, Cranston has 26 school buildings – many of them built between 50 and 70 years ago – and they are long overdue for an update.

But instead of simply bringing the schools up to modern building standards, Cranston is completely rethinking how a 21st century education should be delivered.

This fall, students at the Eden Park Elementary School started the year in a brand-new wing, which features an open floor plan, equipped with a library and the latest in education technology, including tablets, smart boards and projectors. The classrooms are separated by walls of glass, creating a feeling of openness, which allows plenty of natural light into the space. There are study nooks, “wobbly” stools, and even a sensory room to help students take a break or relieve anxiety.

The new wing of Eden Park Elementary is part of Cranston’s pilot project that departs from the traditional lecture-style classroom setup. Instead, it focuses on creating small groups in which students with different learning styles can receive more personalized attention.

The facility uses the most up-to-date energy efficiency practices, including R33 insulation in the walls, LED lighting, and a “smart” heating and cooling system, which runs on electricity and natural gas instead of using the older oil-powered system. The smart system helps regulate the temperature automatically and will shut itself down if a teacher opens the windows so that it does not waste energy. Since the windows let in plenty of natural light, less power is needed to brighten up the room. The ability to regulate temperature is important for helping students stay focused on learning. Cranston used rebates from National Grid to help pay for the energy-efficient upgrades.

Most of Cranston’s older school buildings are unusable in the summer because they lack air conditioning. The Eden Park school, with its new HVAC system, can be used all year-round for education and special summer programs.

According to Ed Collins, chief of facilities management and capital projects for Cranston Public Schools, if the Eden Park pilot project is successful, it will be used as a model for the other schools in need of updates. “We are not just thinking about how to retrofit and update our aging schools – we also want our upgrades to enhance the learning environments for teachers and their students,” said Collins.