Most of the news shared by school officials during district report night was good — Barrington’s standardized test scores for the SATs, AP exams and NECAPs were well above state averages and ranked at or near the top among public high schools in Rhode Island.
But that was not good enough for school committee member Paula Dominguez.
The first-year member of the committee told Schools Superintendent Michael Messore during Thursday night’s meeting that local school officials should not be focusing on how Barrington compares with other schools in Rhode Island or even the top 50 schools in Massachusetts.
“I’m not interested in the top 10 percent,” Ms. Dominguez said, referring to the group of 50 Massachusetts schools. “I’m interested in the top 1 percent.”
Ms. Dominguez told Mr. Messore and the other school administrators that the information provided during district report night was “disappointing.” She said she wanted to see how Barrington compares to “pace-setting school districts,” not just schools across Rhode Island and those listed in a Boston Magazine article touting the top 50 schools in that state.
“I don’t think it’s the right information,” she said.
During her campaign for public office, Ms. Dominguez spoke about the importance of judging Barrington students’ success in the classroom not just against other students from Rhode Island or the northeast. She said after graduating from Barrington High School, local students will face global competition for jobs and positions in higher education. She reemphasized that point on Thursday night.
She said district officials need to offer further details on where Barrington schools “ought to be going” in the future.
Before Mr. Messore or other administrators could reply, Faith Moses, the student representative on the school committee, began asking a series of questions on a different subject.
Prior to the district report presentation, Barrington High School senior Karl Aspelund addressed the school committee about the US Senate Youth Program. Karl was selected for the prestigious honor, beating out six state finalists, including two other Barrington High School students.
Karl spoke at length about his experience in Washington D.C., the politicians he met during his trip and the more memorable moments from his time in the nation’s capital. He also told school committee members that he had spoken with students from across the country who were participating in the program and was surprised to hear how many of them came from districts facing difficult budget decisions.
“I was thinking of how fortunate I was,” to go to Barrington High School, said Karl. “Other students spoke of cuts to foreign languages and other programs.” He said he felt lucky to have attended Barrington High School where there is a vast number of different programs available, including theater arts.
Karl later thanked the school officials for their work and said he was looking forward to his freshman year at Harvard University next year.