To the editor:
Numbers can be manipulated to tell an inaccurate story. I have seen this often done in public discourse here in Barrington. And it happened again at last night’s FTM .
To the editor:
Numbers can be manipulated to tell an inaccurate story. I have seen this often done in public discourse here in Barrington. And it happened again at last night’s FTM.
Let me first be clear that I am in support of investment in our schools.
Let me be even more clear, I am in support of smart investment in our schools. Investment is smart when it yields the desired results, and, ideally, does so efficiently.
Anyone who manages a business knows there is no blank check. Your success is measured by the ROI of your spending decisions. The goal is “maximum bang for the buck”. Efficiency is a sign of a system that works well.
Here in Barrington, for the most part, our school system works very well, and it does so with great efficiency as measured by our low spend per student. This efficiency is not an indication of a “lack of investment” in our schools, a misleading statement made last night (and at the 2022 FTM).
Let me suggest that we instead measure our educational success based on student outcomes such as test scores, engagement levels, preparedness for both career and college. By these desired outcomes, we are tops in the state.
According to data from a March 2021 BT article, Barrington ranked 32/34 towns statewide in per pupil expenditure. The highest per pupil spend was in towns with small relative student populations like New Shoreham, Little Compton, Jamestown and Narragansett. Are these towns delivering better student outcomes than Barrington? Definitely not but according to statements made last night, those towns are “winning” and Barrington needs to catch up by spending more per student. So, the state’s best performing district needs to emulate the inefficiency of lower performing districts. Huh?
I advise those in positions of influence in our town to abandon reference to the per student spend ranking as a metric of success and instead focus on student outcomes. Being efficient with our per student spend is to be celebrated. Thanks to our very dense student population we use our resources relatively efficiently. Our low per pupil spend would only be a red flag if it was associated with a failing school district. That is not the case here in Barrington.
So, yes, let’s invest in our teachers, much needed building infrastructure, special education, honors course work. Let our goal be the delivery of outstanding outcomes across the entire student population and not high spend per student. That leads to continued success. That preserves the future of Barrington.