'Don't have to be bad to be better'

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The budget process once took two or three months. Now, Harrington said, “it takes all year round, and it drains both resources and time that could be better spent on educational issues.”

“The conversation has changed because of the tax cap,” she added, saying that “it has placed the schools in an adversarial position with the community and caused the community to be split on budget issues. It has become a 12-month issue.”

“We try and not talk about the B-word until November,” she said with a laugh.

She chided the state for not being more forthcoming on the recent testing controversy and on parents’ opting out of the testing. “It’s unfair to the districts, because I think that more and more parents will opt out of the tests once they see the scores achieved by their children. The state seems to be saying that it’s a problem for the local districts, but they should address it at their level. When we drop below 95 percent of the students taking the test, we’re in trouble, and it’s due to a state problem, not a local problem.”

Harrington promised a transparent administration. “Everybody had the right to ask questions and to get answers to those questions in a reasonable time,” she concluded. “It’s incredible for me to be here, and I’m looking to begin the year on that high note.”

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