Barrington School Committee candidates offer insight

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Candidates for the Barrington School Committee are heading into the final fews days of the election season. There are five people — three Republicans and two Democrats — vying for the three seats. Following are brief bios for each of the school committee candidates running this year:

Meaghan ‘Meg’ Ramsden

- PARTY: Republican

- FAMILY: Husband Chris Ramsden; daughter Margaret, 19; son Mack, 17

- EDUCATION: Dartmouth College, B.A. English; Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ed.M. Education

- CURRENT JOB: Former teacher, Barrington Early Childhood Center (12 years)

- GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE/CIVIC INVOLVEMENT: Barrington Public Schools volunteer, including BMS co-president; HMS Executive Committee and classroom volunteer; Barrington Boosters; Dartmouth College Alumni Council; Dartmouth Alumni Association of RI, past president; Barrington Congregational Church, past member of Membership Committee

- WHY SHOULD VOTERS ELECT YOU? I am seeking election to the School Committee because I believe I will bring a depth of educational experience combined with a parent’s perspective. With so many new leaders of our school system in place, this year is a time of tremendous growth and opportunity in Barrington schools. It is a time to examine how we continue to support and add excellent programs, such as all-day kindergarten, and maximize learning potential for all students while being mindful of our fiscal responsibility. I pledge to be an advocate for students, their families, and teachers.

Bob Shea

- PARTY: Democratic

- FAMILY: Married to Lisa B. Shea, M.D., 3 children in the Barrington Schools (Noah-17, Caleb-15, and Eli-13)

- EDUCATION: Brown University, B.A.; University of Virginia, M.A., Ph.D.

- CURRENT JOB: Director of Faculty Development, Bryant University; Teagle Assessment Scholar; Associate Consultant, Teresa Farnum & Associates

- GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE/CIVIC INVOLVEMENT: Barrington School Committee, 2008-12 (Chair, 2010; Vice Chair 2008-10, 2011); Health& Wellness Committee (Chair, 2008-present); Special Education Advisory Committee (2001-present; Chair 2006-08); Strategic Planning Committee (2008); Superintendent Search Committee (2007)

- WHY SHOULD VOTERS ELECT YOU: Four years ago I made my first foray into politics by asking for your support serve on the Barrington School Committee. I did so with the desire to serve as a champion for meeting the needs of diverse learners and to promote the social, emotional, and physical well-being of all Barrington students. Over the last four years, I have worked tirelessly on initiatives associated with both of these goals. I am proud of my record service and I am proud of the achievements of the school committee over that period.

I am proud of the fact that, despite historic fiscal challenges, Barrington remains a district of state, regional, and national distinction; and we have done so while remaining a district with one of the lowest rates of per-pupil expenditure in the state.

More recently, I am proud of the fact that we successfully completed a leadership transition that required the filling of six key central office or building level administrative positions with thoughtful, dedicated, and innovative educational leaders. Of that group, I am particularly proud of our Superintendent search and of our decision to appoint Mr. Michael Messore to the district’s top spot.

I am also proud to have served the School Committee as its chair for one term and as its vice-chair for three terms, as well as serving as the chair of its Health & Wellness subcommittee for the past four years.

My passion and commitment to serve as a member of your school committee have not waned. I have been humbled by the trust that you placed in me four years ago and I pledge to continue to hold that trust dear if I am fortunate enough to be re-elected. I ask you to weigh my record of service as you consider your vote, and I respectfully ask once again for your support.

Christopher M. Ramsden

- PARTY: Republican

- FAMILY: Wife, Meaghan, daughter, Margaret (19), son, Mack (17)

- EDUCATION: B.A. Economics, Dartmouth College; M.B.A. Finance & Operations, J.L. Kellogg School of Business, Northwestern University

- CURRENT JOB: CEO Millstone Medical Outsourcing

- GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE/CIVIC INVOLVEMENT: Lieutenant United States Navy, Chief Engineer USS Elliot (DD-967); Barrington School Committee 2011-2012; Providence Country Day, board of directors; Providence Country Day, co-chair of the annual fund; Barrington Congregational Church, Buildings & Grounds Committee

- WHY SHOULD VOTERS ELECT YOU? I have 30 years of business experience and own and operate a small company with 200 employees.

I understand that Barrington’s schools and students are our most valuable assets. I will work diligently with district leadership to ensure that our schools remain the best in R.I., and among the highest achieving in New England.

I am a strong advocate for increased use of technology and all day K. The school district budget is approximately $45 million a year and represents 70 percent of the town’s expenditures. My perspective and voice is needed on the School Committee.

Paula S. Dominguez, Ed.D.

- PARTY: Democrat

- FAMILY: Married 17 years to Eric, a U.S. Navy veteran and physician, with 2 children currently attending Barrington Public Schools.

- EDUCATION: Ed.D., Harvard University; M.S., Syracuse University; A.B., Mount Holyoke College; graduate of the Chicopee, Massachusetts, public schools

- CURRENT JOB: Director of Legislative Research, Rhode Island General Assembly, and Senior Education Policy Advisor for the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Adjunct instructor at Brown University

- GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE/CIVIC INVOLVEMENT: During the 7 years that I have lived in Barrington, I have served the school committee on various groups, including the search committees for the Nayatt Elementary School Principal and Superintendent, and on the district’s strategic planning committee. I am a founding board member and Treasurer of Arts Alive! and have supported the strategic planning efforts of both the Barrington Education Foundation and the Bayside YMCA. I have also volunteered on the Parent Teacher Organizations in all of my daughters’ schools and am an active communicant of St. Luke’s Church.

At the state level, I have been immersed in public education in Rhode Island through my involvement in task forces and commissions on education funding, afterschool and summer learning, public-private partnerships, state education technology infrastructure, college affordability, financial literacy, and dual enrollment opportunities for high school students, among other topics.

At the national level, I have worked on public education initiatives with the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the College Board, the Education Commission of the States, the National Center on Public Policy and Higher Education, and the Education Standing Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). I am an elected member of NCSL’s Executive Committee, the organization’s governance body, and chair the committee that is responsible for NCSL’s professional development efforts nationwide.

At the international level, I have taught and conducted education research in countries including Japan, South Korea, China, and India.  In Sweden, I scrutinized adult education on behalf of that nation’s Ministry of Education. I have also conducted global research on behalf of Habitat For Humanity International.

- WHY SHOULD VOTERS ELECT YOU? The Barrington school committee needs a diversity of perspectives, independent thinkers, and new ideas to do its job well. With regard to my ideas about the issues confronting Barrington’s public schools, I support an excellent education for all students, an education that is nothing less than world class. I believe that children benefit most from a well-rounded experience in the schools that goes beyond assessments and core subjects, to include history, world languages, music and the arts, and opportunities to participate in organized sports. I maintain that there is a much greater need in our district for requiring and using credible evidence to direct funding, and for greater transparency around spending decisions.

Two aspects of my professional background separate me from the other candidates for Barrington school committee. First, I bring a breadth and depth of experience in public education. I have first-hand knowledge of other top performing schools and nations that comes from working in great classrooms throughout the world, and have taught all kinds of learners, from preschoolers to graduate students. My knowledge of public schools is based on more than classroom experience, however. I have also worked in public and private universities, in a for-profit business, and in legislative chambers, a range of settings that has allowed me to see how public education is interwoven with other facets of our society and economy.

Second, I being more than an understanding “what works” in public education: I know “what works better, and at what cost.” As a researcher who prioritizes hard evidence and as someone with a keen knowledge of education finance, I have documented the trade offs seen in different education spending decisions. I steadfastly maintain that Barrington taxpayers, who provide the great majority of funds for our public schools, deserve to have a rationale for their school budget. Within a handful of years, the district will make additional financial requests for technology, a middle school construction project, and other items. With each budget item, the school committee must earn taxpayers’ trust that these requests will be scrutinized and questioned, that they will be as economical as possible, especially for those who are on fixed incomes, and that decisions about spending will be as transparent as possible.

On a more personal note, I am a product of a public school education. I value the essential role that public schools play in breathing new life into our society. The decisions I have made with regard to my own family’s education speak to my fundamental belief in public education. Like many others in town, my husband and I moved here because of the reputation of the town’s public schools and our two children are now enrolled in the Barrington public schools. At the end of the day, I am a mother who wants those schools to be the absolute best they can be and who is happy to add my perspective, professional experiences, and personal commitment to help make Barrington a pace-setting school district of world-class caliber.

Barrington needs school committee leadership that looks beyond the borders of Rhode Island and our nation to create an excellent 21st century learning environment for all our children, and that is also reasonable to taxpayers. I am dedicated to collaborating with other school committee members and the people who work in our schools to make that happen, now.

Thank you for your consideration, and I respectfully request that you vote for me on Election Day, November 6th.

Patrick A. ‘Buzz’ Guida

- PARTY: Republican

- FAMILY: Spouse – Sandra Putnam Guida, Physical Therapist. Children – Kristin Guida Todd, Barrington H.S. (1995), Bowdoin College – B.S. (1999), Duke – M.S. (2006), PA-C Ross Gregory Guida, Barrington H.S. (1997), Union College – B.S. (2001), U.S. Navy – Lt. (2001-2009), Tuck (Dartmouth) – MBA (2011)

- EDUCATION: LEGAL: Case Western Reserve University, Juris Doctor-1976. Law Review, Editor; UNDERGRADUATE: Union College (Schenectady, NY), B.A., *** Laude 1973 with Departmental Honor, Political Science.

- CURRENT JOB: PARTNER OF LAW FIRM: Duffy & Sweeney, LTD, Providence.

- GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE/CIVIC INVOLVEMENT: Barrington School Committee member (1996 to Date). Chair (1998 to 2008, 2010 to Date). Rhode Island Association of School Committees; President (2002 to 2004). Executive Committee (1999 to 2007, 2010 to Date). Member (1996 to Date). Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education; Regent (2001 to Date). Vice-Chair (2005 to Date). Chair of Numerous Committees relating to Curriculum, Educator Quality, Secondary School Reform, State Funding Formula and Accountability Measures.National Association of State Boards of EducationMember (2001 to Date). Rhode Island Representative to Government Affairs Committee (2006 – 2011). Chair of Government Affairs Committee (2009 – 2011). President-Elect (2012).Barrington Boosters ClubPresident 1993-1996Barrington H.S. Improvement Team Chair 1993-1996

- WHY SHOULD VOTERS ELECT YOU? I was first elected to the School Committee in 1996. I brought with me the experience as President of the Barrington Boosters Club, Chair of the Barrington High School Improvement Team, several years of experience on District Strategic Planning Action Teams and a belief in and enthusiasm for excellence in public education. My enthusiasm for achieving excellence in public education remains undiminished.

I also believe a community is best known by the quality of its schools. Our schools are the signature of our town. My qualifications for continuing service on the School Committee is best measured by the performance of our schools during my 16 year tenure. During this time we successfully introduced the Senior Project to our community; now a standard graduation requirement around the State. We also established the Professional Learning Community Protocol as the underlying foundation for the collaborative delivery of instruction by our educators. Throughout this time, the District has continued to perform at the top in state assessments and our students and faculty have been recognized for excellence in countless other ways.

The District and its schools have also achieved prominence in numerous national rankings. Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report ranked Barrington High School in the top 2% in the Nation. In recently released SAT Reports our combined scores were 30 points higher than the next best District in Rhode Island.

Our Advanced Placement results were more impressive. Of the 561 AP tests taken, 479 (over 85%), were at college level mastery. Considering our high participation rate, and the percentage of those achieving mastery, these results place Barrington not only well at the top in Rhode Island but also among the most successful AP performing schools in the nation. This accomplishment is attributable to an increase during my tenure of AP offerings from 8 to 15, better preparation of student to take and perform well in those courses and highly effective delivery of instruction by Barrington teachers.

Both our High School and Middle School have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as “Blue Ribbon Schools”, a distinction reserved for only a few hundred schools each year.

In 2011, Forbes Magazine ranked Barrington as the 4th best public education community in the Nation for your real estate buck. Indeed, we have maximized the use of available resources to realize our accomplishments. Only 3 school districts in the State spend less per pupil. You may have heard that there are high schools in some of the Boston Suburbs which achieved combined SAT Scores (Reading, Writing and Math) 50 point or more higher than Barrington H.S. Of those Schools the average per pupil expenditure is approximately $2,500 higher than Barrington. That would translate into an approximately $8.5 Million increase in our budget. According to Boston Magazine, of the top 50 Boston Suburban High Schools, more than 30 had SAT scores less than Barrington. Many of those also spend more per pupil than Barrington.

Our current challenges include: completing a new five year strategic plan; implementing and enriching new national curriculum standards and the tests aligned to those standards; exploring opportunities for “virtual learning”, including the use of online resources to supplement and enrich instruction; and planning for substantial future capital improvements to insure a safe and effective learning environment for all.

We must remain vigilant in bringing all students to proficiency and beyond. We will also continue to pursue further program enhancements, including all-day kindergarten, expanded world language opportunities in the elementary grades, and enrichment across the curriculum, including the arts. Our challenge is to realize these objectives while identifying further opportunities for savings. We have recently assembled a highly effective leadership team to mobilize our professional learning community to accomplish these goals.

I bring with me now the benefit of extensive education policy making experience at the State and national level. I have served almost twelve (12) years on the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education, eight years as its Vice-chair and seven years on the National Association of State Boards of Education, including three years as chair of their Government Affairs Committee. I am currently President-Elect of NASBE. That experience, combined with my sixteen years on the School Committee and my determination for our students to excel, has prepared me to make an important contribution to our continuing success. I would appreciate your support.

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