Barden: What is the benefit of returning Blackstone Valley Prep funding?

Barden: What is the benefit of returning Blackstone Valley Prep funding?

As a Blackstone Valley Prep parent and Pawtucket taxpayer I have been frustrated and confused by the backlash against my children’s school for accepting federal payroll protection funding. I am particularly disappointed in the reaction from local elected officials calling on the school to return the funding.

With Rhode Island’s 17 percent unemployment rate for May, I would think any federal funding that comes to our state to protect Rhode Island jobs is a good thing. How on earth does returning the money benefit Cumberland, Pawtucket or any other sending district? I have been a voice for school choice for over a decade and I’m tired of the division sewn throughout our community by those in elected office who continue to pit my sons’ school against the district schools. During these uncertain times I would have thought we would be looking for ways to come together, not tear each other down.

Congress is currently debating another round of federal support that will include a stimulus package for states. Once approved, our state will secure additional dollars to support education in communities throughout Rhode Island. When that happens I will not be calling for those federal dollars to be returned. I will be grateful that my neighbor’s children, and children across the state, will benefit from another form of federal support while protecting vital Rhode Island jobs.

One should run for office to create and support the community, and everyone who lives in it. They should look to build each other up, protect the weak, promote the strong, and celebrate success together! If you need to sow the seeds of division during a pandemic you might want to think about why you ran for public office in the first place.

Lori Barden

Pawtucket