Schoolyard politics in North Kingstown
North Kingstown School Committee Chairman Douglas Roth has offered Jamestown an olive branch. In a letter to the editor, which appears in this issue of the Press, Roth has invited Jamestown School Committee member Bucky Brennan to return to the N.K. school committee table as the island's liaison.
Brennan voluntarily walked out of a recent North Kingstown School Committee meeting after two of the school board's members attempted to have the Jamestown liaison position eliminated. It was simple politics. The two school board members, who want to have the N.K. school superintendent fired, did not like Brennan's contradicting opinions on the matter.
The liaison post, however, is outlined in a policy. Jamestown sends 213 students to North Kingstown High School as the island's high school of record. The tuition bill this school year is $2,056,000, nearly $9,700 per student. Jamestown's deal with North Kingstown includes a school committee liaison who is allowed to participate in discussions before the board. The Jamestown liaison has also been allowed a non-binding vote for the record.
Jamestown's tuition bill may be a drop in the bucket in the overall N.K. school budget. But islanders consider the liaison position important because it maintains an open channel of communications between the two school committees. After all, we are dealing with the education of our children.
If you have been following the news across the bay, you know the North Kingstown schools and its finances are divisive, heated issues. We have to agree with Brennan's assessment of the N.K. school committee as "dysfunctional." Petty bickering, rather than respectful debate over the quality of education, has dominated the N.K. meetings of late.
Hopefully, the N.K. school committee will narrow its focus on education, which affects 213 students from Jamestown.
- Jeff McDonough