Letter: Save Barrington schools from budget cuts
To the editor:
As a resident of Barrington I am concerned and puzzled by the action of our Committee on Appropriations (COA). The voters in our town approved the new middle school on Nov. 8, 2016 by a vote of 6,003 approve or 64 percent and 3,404 disapprove or 36 percent. Then at our special town financial meeting on March 16, 2017 the vote approving the override was 590 in favor or 63 percent and 349 against or 37 percent. This is basically a 2/1 ratio of strong support to invest in our schools.
I know that when I cast both my votes, I was not asking COA to cut the annual school budget as a result. Yet this is what Mr. (Chad) Mollica and the COA are doing.
At the last COA meeting Mr. Mollica told Kate Brody, chair of the school committee, that she has structural issues with her budget, and that she needs to make significant cuts.
Please keep in mind that all of the increases to the school budget are to fund mandates by the state which we have to do as well as to honor the contract with our teachers. I think we can all agree that our teachers work hard to educate our children. In short, it is a level funded budget with no fluff despite its increased price tag.
Yet Mr. Mollica and the rest of COA are in effect demanding to cut teachers, sports, classes, learning coaches, transportation, and after school extra-curriculars.
Mr. Mollica and the COA seem to be taking the side of the minority vote over that of the town-wide majority. This is undemocratic. He seems to be listening more to Tom Rimoshytus, who has repeatedly spoken out against the bond for the middle school which passed overwhelmingly. He also spoke out against school start times which was passed by the school committee last year.
Mr. Rimoshytus, however, did support the $1.5 million field turf proposal which was put forward by Dr. Alex Robertson in the 2015 FTM. This field would have put our kids at risk for 44 percent more injury rate than what we have now, it would also expose our kids to 6-8 known cancer causing chemicals. This proposal also did not go through the strategic plan process as did both all-day kindergarten and start time change.
The field turf vote failed by a large margin. That was a good thing. So when you hear the RIACT people claiming they are looking out for taxpayers keep this fact in mind. Also keep in mind that this $1.5 million is about 5 times more than what school start time change would cost.
If you voted to support the building of the new middle school, please email the COA and the school committee to let them know you support our schools. The next COA meeting is April 11 at 7pm at the BMS library.
Paul J O’Brien Jr, DC