Barrington Middle School students returned from summer vacation last week to find wood shop up and running.
On Thursday, Aug. 23, the Barrington School Committee unanimously voted to hire Cheryl DelSanto as the middle school’s second full-time industrial arts teacher. Ms. DelSanto brings two decades of industrial arts experience to the school. She previously taught in Tiverton, Portsmouth and Bristol at both the middle and high school levels.
Barrington School Superintendent Michael Messore said the hire will allow for collaboration among the middle school’s wood shop and robotics programs.
Mr. Messore said the goal in hiring Ms. DelSanto is to foster heightened education in the areas of science, technology and math while attempting to create a linked curriculum between the district’s middle and high school programs.
Ms. DelSanto was one of two candidates identified to fill a second middle school industrial arts position, which along with the wood shop program had been scheduled for elimination in the school district’s initial budget proposal last spring.
Voters at the town’s financial town meeting approved a $144,000 addition for the school district to fund two positions and repair the sawdust removal system. The school committee then authorized the district to pursue a hiring process for the spot provided that any candidate’s compensation package (salary and benefits) didn’t exceed $75,000.
One of the two candidates identified by administrators would have come in under this cap while Ms. DelSanto, at the top salary step, exceeds the total. Director of administration and finance Ron Tarro said compensation packages for that level teacher are around $110,000.
The school district has not exceeded the $144,000 to continue and potentially expand upon middle school wood shop. In fact, district officials, including director of facilities Skip Learned, developed an alternative to a complete overhaul of the facility’s dust collection system. Individual removal systems were installed at various wood shop machines, Mr. Tarro said, a solution that cost about $3,000.
Both the alternative dust collection setup and Ms. DelSanto were in place by the time students started school on Monday, Aug. 27.
“They’re in the shop going through instruction right now,” said Mr. Messore last Thursday.
Meanwhile, one of the leading voices behind the push to keep middle school wood shop has left Barrington. The town meeting amendment to add $144,000 for the wood shop program was put forth by Kari and William Banas whose son, Calvin, had put together a petition calling for the program to be saved.
At last Thursday’s meeting, the school committee was informed that the Banas family was moving out of town