Letter: School start time fallout in Barrington

Posted 9/10/19

To the editor:

Last November, later school start time (SST) advocates finally got what they wanted: three supporters elected to join the school committee (SC) chairwoman in her quest to …

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Letter: School start time fallout in Barrington


To the editor:

Last November, later school start time (SST) advocates finally got what they wanted: three supporters elected to join the school committee (SC) chairwoman in her quest to change the start times at any cost. Now that the change is upon us how will the SC deal with the fallout? The most concerning issues:

• Teacher contract — The teachers’ union has been in negotiations with the SC since March. This is first time in recent history that Barrington has not had a contract prior to start of school. It is our opinion that the unilateral decisions of our SC has led to failed negotiations and low teacher morale.

• Job openings — Several coaches/advisors have stepped down. Until the week before the field hockey (FH) season started there was no varsity nor JV coach. A parent finally stepped into the varsity position while JV remains open. Our state champion FH season started three weeks ago! As of this publication there are six open athletic/advisor positions, several staff vacancies, and the need to fill the assistant principal position at the middle school.

• Budget concerns — English language learner costs continue to rise. Staffing increases may be needed to accommodate new students eligible for services. Due to increase in enrollment, a seventh grade teacher was added. A crossing guard needs to be added since the position was previously shared between Sowams and HMS. These additions were not in the proposed budget. Fourth grade classes are averaging 26 students; to be monitored to determine if additional staffing is needed. We estimate SST total cost to be $400-$500k. Is this the best way for our school district to spend this amount of money?

• Traffic — Traffic around Barrington has become worse. More parents are driving kids to school due to lengthy bus rides. Changes in the light at the White Church Bridge has led to never before seen traffic, causing County Road to back up to Maple Avenue while Massasoit Avenue continues to back up even with the lighting change. 

• Transportation — The SC was confident that only three additional buses were needed for the shift to a 2-tier schedule. An additional bus was added two years ago when they insisted on bus rides no longer than 30 minutes in a town our size. Now 45-plus minute bus rides are acceptable for K-5 students. Some pickup times have been moved as early as 7:02 a.m. in order to get K-5 to school on time and certain bus runs are dropping high school students just as the 8:25 a.m. warning bell rings, leaving them barely enough time to get to their first class on time.

• Varsity rowing — While not a school sanctioned sport, these students now practice at 6 a.m. No extra sleep for them. Other local businesses have realized losses as result of the 3:05 p.m. dismissal for high school students.

• Assessment plan — Currently, there are no metrics in place to determine the success of later SST. The only “metric” stated at a previous meeting was “it will be about the feeling in the building”. What happened to “data driven” decisions and scientific evaluations? A baseline survey should have been performed at the end of last year asking the following questions: When do you go to bed? When do you wake up? How many hours of sleep do you receive each night? Follow-up surveys asking the same questions should be done after implementation at the beginning, mid, and end of year as well as parents surveys. Instead it appears they select data to suit their agenda which indicates they are not interested in assessing results. 

Should tax-payers bear the burden if the SC wants to fix issues by increasing their budget? In May there was a clear answer to this question: No! Being a leader isn’t about being right. It’s about adapting to your surroundings and empowering a team to succeed together. We do not see this type of leadership nor the promised transparency in our SC.

Lisa Daft

Sam Read

TR Rimoshytus

Dianne Tine

Jamie Triebwasser

Todd and Lisbeth Kenyon

Anne E. Merlino

Pam Van Ness

Gina Pine

Chase Kazounis

Sara Bonneau

Michelle Ristuccia

Casey Henchman


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Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.