Letter: If this were a civics class, school board would be failing

Posted 9/16/21

To the editor:

We should expect more from our school committee, superintendent, and assistant superintendent.  

So many in this community moved here, willing to pay hefty property taxes, …

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Letter: If this were a civics class, school board would be failing

Posted

To the editor:

We should expect more from our school committee, superintendent, and assistant superintendent.  

So many in this community moved here, willing to pay hefty property taxes, with the expectation that we would have strong leaders who value community input, collaboration, transparency, and competent communication. While I am sure all of the above-mentioned people have good intentions, their decisions too often translate into weak leadership and a lack of respect for democratic ideals.  

The current school committee (aside from one member) does not serve as an authority check on our administration, rather a rubber stamp. 

In the past couple of years alone, we have seen our school committee spend financial and other resources suing a middle school student, despite the RI Department of Education’s determination that the school district improperly suspended the student. (Patrick McCrann was the only member to vote against this.) 

During the Spring of 2020, parents whose children relied on high school conceptual classes suddenly learned these were being dissolved without any collaboration, input, communication, etc. Then, again, in spring of 2021 parents learned of a plan to dissolve honors classes only after reviewing the course catalog and raising concerns about changes already being implemented for the next school year. (Again, Patrick McCrann was the only committee member to put forward hard questions that represented parents’ concerns.) 

In addition, in June, the Rhode Island Attorney General found that the Barrington School Committee violated the Open Meetings Act last spring when they failed to inform the public that they would be discussing de-leveling. 

The school committee has yet to be transparent and acknowledge this violation publicly. And now, most recently, parents were told that the bussing for this coming school year would revert back to pre-Covid bus eligibility. However, many parents have discovered that this doesn’t appear to be the case and that numerous kids who were assigned buses in the Fall of 2019, are no longer considered “eligible.”  

Thus far, parents have not received any clear information explaining what exactly has changed, leading to this down-sizing of eligible bus riders, how many kids have been impacted, and if there are plans to include these kids again once Covid restrictions aren’t needed. If this were a civics class in which these leaders were being graded, our school committee and district administrators would not be earning passing marks. This community deserves better.

Shelli Edgar

Barrington

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.