Editorial: School start times — clear as mud

Posted 1/24/18

The Barrington School Committee conducts itself like the board of directors for a successful, multi-million-dollar corporation. In many ways, it is.

The public schools (the corporation’s …

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Editorial: School start times — clear as mud

Posted

The Barrington School Committee conducts itself like the board of directors for a successful, multi-million-dollar corporation. In many ways, it is.

The public schools (the corporation’s divisions) have been among the highest performing in this region for many years. Its superintendent (the CEO) is a consummate professional esteemed in his field. Its products (the students) are oft-chronicled as the best of the best.

So the school committee’s approach obviously works, and as directors on the board, they have much to be proud of.

Yet these directors and their CEO were lacking in one area last Thursday night — leadership.

Aside from the price tag to build a new middle school, no issue has been more divisive, emotional or controversial in Barrington in the last five years, than school start times. This is an area where the five elected leaders and director of the town’s most important institution should provide exactly that — leadership.

However, they seemed remarkably absent on this topic last week.

Dr. Megan Douglas was not. She never has been in this arena. She is a strong activist for changing school start times.

Her four peers are … we’re not sure. Though some of them have supported new start times in the past, it’s unclear if they still feel that way.

When the superintendent announced there are no plans to change school start times, or even look at them at this point in time — effectively crushing the hopes and dreams of a passionate constituency — most of them had little to say. They talked about taking time to make changes the right way, but there is no clarity on what that means.

Are they in favor of later start times (and doing whatever it takes to figure it out), or are they opposed (and ready to bury this issue so it does not linger forever)?

We are not advocating for either later start times, or the status quo. We’re advocating for leadership on this highly divisive, sometimes explosive issue.

The folks who care passionately about this topic, on both sides, deserve clarity from this school district, and most importantly, its leaders. Are they working toward later school start times, or not?

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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.