Little separates Barrington school board candidates

Incumbent school committee member Bob Shea said there are studies that show the impact of later school start times for older students. Incumbent school committee member Bob Shea said there are studies that show the impact of later school start times for older students.

Incumbent school committee member Bob Shea said there are studies that show the impact of later school start times for older students.

There was little contention among the five school committee candidates at a debate Wednesday night: each contender has the credentials to make a good school committee member.

Incumbent Democrat Bob Shea and incumbent Republican Chris Ramsden both praised those running for the board.

One of the night’s only disagreements emerged between Mr. Shea and Mr. Ramsden. Mr. Ramsden, who promoted his business experience and school committee record, said he is a data driven person and has not seen any evidence that districts who have adopted later school start times for older students have seen marked improvements.

Mr. Shea disagreed. He said there are studies that show the benefits of altering start times.

A popular topic of conversation was technology.

Mr. Ramsden said technology is a priority while incumbent Republican Patrick Guida said improvements will not only allow for expanded virtual learning opportunities but are required for upcoming implementation of common core curriculum.

Democratic challenger Paula Dominguez said technology is important but new equipment needs to be supported with professional development for staff.

Ms. Domginuez said she is a believer in public education, and also would support individuals without children in local schools serving on the school committee.

Republican challenger Meg Ramsden agreed. She also advocated for all-day kindergarten, among other initiatives. Ms. Ramsden later said she would not support re-visiting a tuition-in program. Mr. Shea concurred.

Mr. Guida said he would favor construction of a new middle school versus a renovation, as did Mr. Shea. Mr. Guida said a new building would be less disruptive to education but said fiscal planning is important.

Mr. Guida also said that Barrington is still “woefully” lacking in state funding, even with an education funding formula. Mr. Guida said the district still isn’t getting what it should. Mr. Ramsden said the schools could use new revenue to promote new programs.

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