To the editor:
The Times editorial of 11/9 advocated for renovating instead of replacing Barrington school buildings. Having seen Hampden Meadows and BHS as a parent for the first time this fall, …
To the editor:
The Times editorial of 11/9 advocated for renovating instead of replacing Barrington school buildings. Having seen Hampden Meadows and BHS as a parent for the first time this fall, the situation is clear -- our schools are old, tired, and dated. They are missing key facilities for art & music, many lack auditoriums and gymnasiums. They lack the scale for effective after-school programs and their student pickup and drop-off are complex and potentially dangerous. They are energy inefficient.
My son went to Guiteras Elementary in Bristol, a beautiful and historic waterfront school renovated at great expense. But the outcome is fundamentally an old school that cannot meet modern standards in classroom size, HVAC, security, bathrooms, and the cafeteria.
Our schools in Barrington lack both the history and charm of Guiteras -- they are under-renovated specimens of their time reflecting typical design and quality. Their reputation and honors reflect their faculty and staff, not their physical plant. I am hard pressed to find anyone nostalgic for the old middle school, having seen the modern and far superior school that replaced it. In addition, a major renovation of a school in use, as was recently done in Little Compton, requires expensive portable classrooms, an excessively tight construction schedule, and disruption of students and teachers for at least two school years.
As a town, we have yet to reach consensus on the number of elementary schools we should have and their configuration. We should approach the recapitalization of our schools as a 20-year journey which our current and future children urgently need us to begin. Our long term school building plan should guide critical repairs to survive the short term, while focusing major investments in operationally and energy efficient schools that will last the next 75 years.