Letter: Committee on appropriations is sending out wrong message
To the editor:
On Wednesday, May 10, I stood before the committee on appropriations to express my concern and disappointment with their decision to level-fund the budget for the school district.
I am a resident of Barrington, a parent of 3 children, a former special education teacher in the state of Massachusetts, and current PTO co-president of a Barrington elementary school.
A statement was made that the COA’s intention with this cut was to “send a message.” This is the message that I hear from the COA:
• The schools in town and what they do for our children are not of top priority for you. My involvement in the schools affords me the opportunity to experience the day-to-day workings of the classroom, the office, and the staff. I view all of this through the lens of an educator. Barrington is touted as being one of the top performing school districts in the state of RI. Having taught in Mass. in one of the top performing districts there, I know that Barrington still has a ways to go to be considered progressive and in-line with high performing schools nationwide. What I witness in our schools is, as Mr. Messore stated, a “bare bones district.” A cut in level services will mean a regression in the progress the district has made thus far in reaching that potential to be one of the best in the nation, let alone in the state.
• Our teachers and administrators are not to be valued or trusted. A suggestion was made to look at costs associated with administration and “big ticket items” — implying the teacher contracts. In order to maintain the distinction of excellence in education within the district, we must attract and retain high quality educators that enable our students to reach their full potential. What we pay our teachers and administrators makes a statement as to how much we value their position and the impact they have on our children’s lives.
• We want people to be able to stay well after they’ve raised their children through the schools, but not attract new families to move in. Our outstanding school district is what attracts people to this town and drives the property value of our homes. These cuts will severely impact the ability of our district to maintain its quality of education, with the inability to recover from these losses for years to come. This will in turn affect the performance of our schools in all areas, leaving outside families to look elsewhere (perhaps our neighbors in the West Bay), and families in town to consider moving out or paying for private schools.
I’d like to leave with this final thought:
The COA called cuts the school administration made “cynical and designed to inflict maximum pain.” Might I remind you that the COA has forced the hand of the school administration to make these cuts. I certainly feel that their message to the school district was cynical and designed to inflict maximum pain.
Gina J. Bae