An additional instructional coach, another school psychologist and one more math interventionist would serve as a real boost to teachers and students at Barrington's elementary schools, but funding for the positions has not yet been included in the 2018-19 budget request.
Instead, the initial plan presented by Barrington's public school principals during a school committee meeting on Jan. 11 calls for minimal increases and "reallocated line items."
The principals told members of the school committee that current instructional coaches have done a great job working with teachers, and that an additional coach would provide great return on investment.
The coaches offer embedded professional development opportunities for the district's teachers and have been shown to improve academic performance by students.
The principals also spoke about the positive effects a school psychologist/social worker would have on the district's kindergarten through third-grade population, and the important role a math interventionist would play for students struggling in that subject.
At the middle school, Principal Dr. Andy Anderson offered for future consideration an additional math specialist position and a world languages program. He said a reallocation of resources at the middle school could possibly accommodate for the changes.
Barrington High School Principal Joe Hurley told the school committee that he was not looking for any increases to his budget and had found some savings in supplies. He said that there was a significant decrease in the textbook line item because the district had just paid for a six-year subscription to e-textbooks and the contract would not come due again for a few years. Mr. Hurley said there was a minimal increase expected for "consumables" associated with the iCreate Lab at the high school.
The budget presentation shared a number of grants the district had been awarded recently:
• $200,000 for the RI Lighthouse Grant: Deeper learning and project-based learning
• $75,000 for the Fuse Architect Grant: Deeper learning and project-based learning
• $31,000 from Barrington Education Foundation: iCreate Lab
• $7,500 in-kind training from Blue Cross Blue Shield Playworks Grant: Professional development for officials who then improved playground and recess experience at Primrose Hill School
• $25,000 in-kind training from Fuse Fellows: Embedded coaching that benefits all teachers and students at Hampden Meadows School
• $12,500 from Barrington Education Foundation: Week-long STEAM experience for all fifth-graders
Return on investment
The budget presentation also highlighted the results yielded from positions and programs added during the current school year:
• Instructional coach, K-3: Overall writing scores have improved; professional development for 24 teachers; improvements in communication of progress
• Mindup curriculum, K-3: "Emerging consistency in language throughout the district"
• .5 Social worker, 4-5: "Supports social emotional needs of 65 students"
• New ALP program, 4-5: Increased social, emotional and behavioral supports for 10 children; decreased potential out-of-district placements
Five-year budget forecast will be revealed
The Barrington Budget Forecast Committee will host a joint meeting with members of the town council and school committee on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. in town council chambers to present its five-year budget forecast report.
The committee, comprised of two members each from the committee on appropriations, town council and school committee, has been meeting monthly since last summer to identify future revenue and expense opportunities and challenges that could impact the town's and schools’ fiscal outlook over the next five years.
The result of those efforts will be summarized in the report, which will then be turned over to the committee on appropriations to help guide its fiscal year 2018-19 budget discussions beginning in February.
The budget forecast committee also plans to update the report at least annually in the future. There will be an opportunity for public comment at the meeting.
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