Letter: Schools need to spread out cost to taxpayers

Posted 5/16/23

To the editor:

Regarding your article: “ Leftover middle school money will pay for new bike path in town ” -  

I preface this by saying I am a product of Barrington schools …

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Letter: Schools need to spread out cost to taxpayers


To the editor:

Regarding your article: “Leftover middle school money will pay for new bike path in town” - 

I preface this by saying I am a product of Barrington schools and have twins who graduated from BHS in 2015. I have owned property in town since 1986, which means my taxes have supported the schools for the vast majority of years Barrington was not educating our children. I’m fine with that, as I’m a strong believer in public education - even though the School Department pads its budget every year. And when it doesn’t get what it wants, threatens to cut sports/gifted programs, prompting an outcry from parents, who make motions to add funding at the Financial Town Meeting that are usually successful. It’s a well-worn playbook.

What caught my eye in the story was the word “leftover.” 

When taxpayers approve a bond, the allocation is traditionally “not to exceed” whatever the amount that is approved. In many communities, if a project comes in under budget, the municipality simply doesn’t take out the difference between the approved amount and what the final cost is. Apparently not in Barrington, where it’s easy for the School Committee to spend other people’s money.

While the connection of a bike path from the high school to the East Bay Bike Path is a great idea, the funding for it is not what we voted for when the middle school bond was passed. 

What else does the School Committee have in mind for the remaining $4 million? Here’s a novel idea: don’t take out the money, saving not only that principal but years of interest. And if you’ve drawn on it, pay it back and multiply the savings.

I voted for the middle school bond because the seats in the auditorium that my kids used were the same ones I sat in, back in 1975. It was time, but a new building added a significant increase to our taxes. Now we learn that the School Committee wants $250 million of additional spending (plus interest) for school repairs that will require an estimated 8 to 9 percent tax increase. Are they aware (or do they care) that the state mandates a 4 percent cap on the increase every year for a reason?

It looks to me like this committee is trying to bite off too much at once. Here’s a suggestion: do a rolling plan to upgrade schools over the next two decades and spread out the cost to taxpayers.

Jim Hummel                                                                                                                                                     


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.