Friday, March 25, 2011

School Funding: Joint Finance Meeting Tues night March 29 at 7 pm in Warren

Kickemuit Middle School is located at 525 Child Street in Warren RI 02885 tele: 245 2010

Related background info below:

To The Editor
For publication in the Bristol Phoenix
March 24, 2011
From: Denise Arsenault
Hattie Brown Lane, Bristol

I am writing with a final plea to all the citizens of Bristol, to consider your duty to our community on Tuesday evening, the 29th of March. Attend the Joint Finance Committee Meeting at 7:00 pm in the Kickemuit Middle School Auditorium. I do hope you believe, as I do, that the mark of a decent community is its commitment to its children, their current education and their future. As they are without choice in most matters relating to their well-being, it is incumbent upon good and generous adults (parents or not) to provide for their needs. As Americans, we embarked long ago on a mission to educate all children in a Public School System. That is a lofty goal, as so many come to us with a multitude of needs, and family support systems that may not be able to assist in their progress.

For nearly 20 years, the communities of Bristol and Warren have participated in a grand experiment (grand and ground breaking in RI anyway). Having regionalized our two school systems pre-k-12, we alone have proven this to be a successful enterprise. There is much to be proud of. Prior to regionalization, I attended many meetings urging more attention to our school buildings. All buildings which house our school programs, though they are still Town property, have been renovated and brought up to safe and healthy standards. The bonus dollars afforded us by the State of RI over the years enabled us to accomplish this. Also contributing to our success is the upgrade in materials and technology, which rate us near the top in the State for educational supports. And as if that were not enough, those dollars have also helped us hire excellent teachers and administrators, to keep our accreditation in place, our students performing at increasingly higher levels (regardless of their social status) and our reputation for creative and effective education intact.

The newly imposed State Funding Formula is diminishing those dollars, which saved our communities the high costs of education and allowed us to increase other services in our Towns. The BW administration has calculated that to maintain the current programs, services and buildings, an increase of nearly 3 million dollars (shared by both Towns) is needed this year. This of course reflects the increase in costs for obligations, which are contracted.

My request is simple…. If you wish your Town Leaders to add in the dollars the State will no longer provide, you must be clear about it. You must call, show up to witness their actions and talk the talk that says you will manage with less from the Town services if a larger share of tax dollars goes to education.
Be aware that though our Town has contributed millions over the years, we now need to contribute a larger percentage for education. Regionalization, the grand experiment, has succeeded. We are left with the choice to maintain and grow excellence from this point, or to diminish what has been accomplished.
Education is a complex and dynamic process. Make no mistake about it that each individual impacting another is what builds an educational experience for a child. There are no mathematical equations that provide success and growth for kids…only the labor-intensive and well-informed efforts of those who show up to do the work each day, no matter who is put in front of them.
The price tag is higher this year…can we afford not to pay it? I choose to represent you because I believe you want the best that this community can provide for our kids. To shortchange them this year should not be an option. Please vote with your presence next Tuesday.
Denise Arsenault

Below is a blog commentary on the Joint Finance Committee meeting from The Arts Room:

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