New blood takes over Warwick School Committee

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A brand-new school committee majority will take office January, as all three seats up for grabs – including the one held by Terri Medeiros, the lone incumbent running in District 2 – were decided by narrow margins during Tuesday’s election.

In District 1, political newcomer Kyle Adams – who graduated from Pilgrim High School in 2010 – beat Richard Cascella 5,138 votes to 4,427 (53 to 45.8 percent). It was the widest margin of victory for any of the school committee districts.

In District 2, another newcomer – Judith Cobden – beat out incumbent Medeiros by a vote count of 4,674 to 4,215 (51.7 to 46.7 percent). Cobden’s shoe-leather – or tire rubber, perhaps more appropriately, as she utilized a unique scooter to get to and from houses in the district – campaign clearly paid off.

In District 3, Nathan Cornell – the youngest running politician in Warwick, who graduated from Toll Gate High School in 2016 – beat out certified CPA and college professor Corey Smith by a count of 5,125 to 4,612 (52 to 46.7 percent). The differences in experience and expertise between the two were apparent, but Cornell apparently made an impact with his insistent foot campaigning.

The results mean that change is likely to come to Warwick schools, as all three winning candidates campaigned on platforms that decried decisions made by the past iteration of the school committee, especially in regards to how they worked with the school administration, led by Superintendent Philip Thornton. However, what exactly that change will look like remains to be seen.

The new committee will be put to the fiduciary test right away, as Warwick voters overwhelmingly approved the $40 million bond initiative to begin fixing the most critical needs within the district’s buildings. In total, 23,053 voters (74 percent) in Warwick voted in favor of the bond. The state’s $250 million bond also easily passed.

It will be the school committee’s responsibility to take the bond moneys – which are released via the Warwick City Council – and appropriate them towards projects that will optimize the limited resources. To put the bond money in perspective, the state estimated that Warwick would need about $190 million to properly repair the schools in Warwick. The $40 million bond was the result of a reduction from the original request of $85 million by the school department, as approved by the school committee.

It will be interesting as well to see how the Warwick City Council responds to the change in school committee composition, as multiple members have recently openly expressed their distrust of the committee and the school department - part of the reason the bond was cut down by more than half its requested amount.

Some new members of the school committee expressed their excitement on Wednesday to get started.

“Now that we will have a new a school committee, we as a district need to move forward towards making our schools the best,” said Cobden. “We can do this by being fiscally responsible, transparent, respectful and, most importantly, by having open communication with all stakeholders. I feel positive that myself and those also just elected, along with those currently sitting, can work well and hard as a team. Although there is much to improve, I believe we can learn from the past to create a much better future. We need to strive to regain trust from the city council and all those in city of Warwick as a whole.  I look forward to being part of making Warwick the best again.”

Thornton, too, was focused on moving forward in the best direction for students as well, and thanked the last iteration of the school committee for their efforts in bringing the district forward.

“Over the past three years, a great deal has been accomplished here in Warwick; 1-to-1 computers for students, added AP classes and a successful school bond referendum to name just a few,” he said. “The school committee has been central in all of this work. Moving ahead, I look forward to working with the new school committee to continue our work of making our schools the very best they can be.”

Comments

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davebarry109

We will be watching. All three are union folks. It's practically a conflict of interest. Can we assume the teachers will get 3% or more each year? Yes. In 3 years, salaries will be up almost 10%. Add that to pensions and you spell future disaster.

Thursday, November 8
patientman

I voted for Corey Smith although I never saw anything about his campaign other than the Beacon article. Nathan Cornell sent my house a letter that was hand signed. I appreciated the effort, even though I was unlikely to vote for someone so inexperienced and unlikely to display the fiscal discipline necessary in a city that is clearly financially distressed. Our schools are taking the city to court despite a max 4.25% tax increase last July. That's not good. Time will tell if the new members have the maturity and discipline to lead. Being an outside agitator as Cornell was, is one thing. Having to make the math work is very different. Good luck to the new Committee.

Friday, November 9
Justanidiot

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

The teachers run the skuls.

Friday, November 9
Bob_Cushman

City Council needs to pass an Ordinance or do whatever is necessary so that any future labor agreement signed by the school committee will have to be ratified by the City Council. Just like any labor agreement signed by the Mayor also needs to be ratified. This is the much needed checks and balance needed to ensure the new conflicted SC doesn't make an agreement that the city can't afford.

Friday, November 9
Thecaptain

I am quite disturbed that the people of this city elected a "student" to such an important role. A "student", who has never seen a tax bill, never written a check for taxes of any kind, and who stated to me at my house that he thought that the unfunded liabilities in this city were "about a million dollars". That is insane. He will get pushed around by the unions and manipulated by Bachus and her girlfriend. That's a whole other story/ Two committee members living in the same house? Total conflict of interest. The deck is stacked.

Be prepared for maximum tax increases for many years to come.

Friday, November 9
MisterP

How disappointing it is to see some of these comments. Especially the comments about the youngest member of the school committee. Lets see if I understand what happened. A young man who is extremely active in Warwick government, in particular the school department/committee meetings, actively attends and participates in meetings. He has a leadership position in a school outreach committee which has the task of helping breakdown communication gaps. So this young man has a calling. He decides that it is time for him to get more involved and runs for school committee. He campaigns hard and walks the district he is running in doing what he can to win. He talks to countless adults expressing his views. He wins the election. He wins because he expressed his views and communicated successfully and convinced the people he was a good choice for the position.

One person has negatively referred to this new school committee member as a "student". Imagine that?! The students in Warwick actually have someone representing them on the school committee!! There is someone there who has firsthand, recent knowledge of what it is like to be a student in Warwick! I don't see anything negative. How great is this country and our representative democracy? I expect he will continue to put his heart and soul into helping Warwick Public Schools become the best it can be. Way to go Nathan!

Friday, November 9
Justanidiot

not only a student, but a student from the warwick schools

we are doomed, charlie brown.

doomed

Saturday, November 10
warwick10

Give the new guy a chance! Too often, people base their opinions on candidates before they even have a chance to watch the candidate act. We need a fresh start with open-minded people who can find common ground. IMO, "experience" does not matter as much as you think-- it is not always what the candidate has the ability to do --rather, its what makes the candidate want to do it!

Sunday, November 11
PhillipDrummond

Experience doesn't matter?? This kid is way out of his depth and the people of Warwick have put a kid on the committee who has no idea how to read a budget and has zero life experience on how to fix the problems that ail the schools. Fresh eyes are on a problem are nice but everything that I have heard, read and seen tells me this kid lacks the knowledge and know how to be of any help to tackle these serious problems. I wish him all the luck but my experience tells me that it's going to be a rough go for him.

Sunday, November 11
richardcorrente

Dear MisterP,

Your comments are perfect. I couldn't have said it better.

This new School Committee will NOT, in my opinion, be controlled by the unions. They will, however, have a real focus on the well-being of the students. In my opinion, the students haven't come first for ten years or more. I honestly believe that now, they finally will, and that benefits everyone, including the "80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab".

Also, for years I have recommended a "Home Rule Charter" to keep the School Committee from taking advantage of the taxpayers, but Bob_Cushman has an even better idea. Having the School Committee's labor agreement ratified by the City Council ("just like any labor agreement") gives Warwick taxpayers the same protection of "checks and balances" showing, once again, that Cushman is one of the most intelligent people in Warwick. Smart idea. Smart man.

Happy Thanksgiving Bob.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Monday, November 12
Cat2222

Until he decides to run against you and then he becomes just another "political hack", or at least that is your MO.

I don't think anyone here discredited Kyle Adams's passion and enthusiasm for local politics. One thing becomes clearer to us all that age brings us experience and we see things through a different lens. Kyle doesn't have the requisite experience or background to understand the complex nature of the political, financial and historical issues that are the points of contention. Even for myself, I do tend to see things as black or white matters and spend less time exploring the gray areas. However, it is in the gray areas that we will be able to find compromise on the issues.

No one is trying to take anything away from Kyle Adams. Just stating that right now if probably not the best time for our city to have someone so green on the committee.Oh, an the little issue of conflict of interests doesn't help.

5 days ago
richardcorrente

Dear Cat2222,

Your comment was unfair.

I have always given credit where it was due and constructive criticism when that was called for. Oftentimes it was on the same person. I have given Mayor Solomon credit for being a good husband and father for years. I have also given him a decent grade as acting-Mayor. I have also discredited him for having a tax assessment that is lower than he paid for his car dealership 29 YEARS AGO. There isn't another piece of real estate in Warwick that can say that.

Unlike some of my critics, I recognize the qualities AND faults of people. Some of my critics just focus on the faults, both real and imaginary. They refuse to give their name because they don't want to expose who they represent. (as if we all don't already know).

It's EASY to find fault. Anything can be judged "not good enough". ANYONE can find fault. It takes someone with a fair mind to recognize qualities AND faults.

It takes a mindset of fair-play to recognize both sides. I'm proud to be able to do that. And I'm not ashamed to let people know who I am. If I was just complaining, criticizing, and condemning all the time, I might want to hide in the shadows...like you're doing. Hey, here's a challenge for you. Come out of the shadows and be recognized as a real person. That way you can stand by your words instead of hiding behind them. It will add a ton of credibility to you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

5 days ago
CrickeeRaven

Cat, again we see the two-time election reject twist your words and repeat statements that have alreadu been disproven, and yet claim that your statement was "unfair."

Here's the latest proof:

"There isn't another piece of real estate in Warwick that can say that."

This is only true if one doesn't look at the two-time election reject's former residence, which city records show he purchased in 2007 for $365,000 and is currently assessed at $357,200.

Notice how that assessment value is less than he paid for it.

You can search this website for this property to find the factual information: https://gis.vgsi.com/warwickri/Search.aspx

This, then, is the two-time election reject's idea of "fairness:" Giving hollow compliments to somehow make up for hypocritical accusations.

Don't fall for his patronizing and whining, Cat. He's still trying to enforce rules for using this website that its owners don't, and you've succeeded in showing that, if there's a chance for him to disgrace himself even more, he will enthusiastically embrace it.

5 days ago
warwick10

Yes, Mr. Drummond, you read correctly:) Years of experience does not matter. Experience does not equal success or future value. Look at our school department--run by "experienced" members, accomplishing nothing.

Sure, having experience may open many more doors...but the right people are the ones who want to work, who know what they want and show up every day ready to work. Go Nathan!

5 days ago
richardcorrente

Dear CrickeeRaven,

You make a valid point, however the lawsuit and settlement proceedings (where I sued my lender AND WON!) may have had a negative effect on the assessed value of the house that I haven't owned in many years. Your house, however, has been in your name all along. So has all of Joe Solomon's several properties. Different political scenario, don't you agree?

As far as patronizing and whining, you're just wrong. I'm just giving credit where credit is due. You, on the other hand, "whine" every time I say anything, good or bad. How do you have the time? Shouldn't you be concentrating on bringing in the eighth or ninth new business to West Warwick? You still are the head of economic development there, aren't you Mark Carruolo? You aren't even in double digits, for new businesses in the last two years. And if you have something to say, say it to my face Mark, you coward of a critic. You know my cell phone number (338-9900). You have my address, (1609 Warwick Ave. a mile from your home.)

I have just as much right to comment here as you do. Maybe more. I invested over a thousand days of my life campaigning for a cause I believe in. You haven't done it for one. I spent over $40,000 of my own money for that cause. You haven't spent dollar one. You ARE however, receiving a taxpayer-funded pension costing Warwick taxpayers over a hundred thousand dollars a year for the rest of your life, while ALSO receiving a salary funded by the West Warwick taxpayers of $100,000+. Pretty easy to see who is giving and who is taking, right Mark? Right readers?

Chew on that Mark.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

4 days ago
CrickeeRaven

The two-time election reject is invited to call West Warwick City Hall 401-827-9025. That is the office phone number of the former Warwick chief of staff, easily found through a simple online search, who he falsely accuses of using this screen name.

He should place the phone call immediately and make this accusation directly -- unless he is more of a coward than he thinks other people are, who post factual and objectively true information about him.

The burden is on him to prove his false accusation -- unless he is so cowardly that he will not do his own research.

4 days ago
Cat2222

RC. insincerity is at the heart of my issues with you. Your comments lack integrity and come across as an attempt to curry favor, to shine a light on yourself in the hopes of gaining something. It’s as if there is a sign over them that blinks in bright red “PHONY”. That is why I say they are cringe-worthy.

You did heap praise on Mayor Solomon before he took over for Avedesian and UNTIL he decided to run against you and then you changed your tune. This is not a lie but a proven fact that can be found in a review of the comment section over the past year. You have zero proof of your claim about his tax assessment and that it is a kickback due to his political standing. NO PROOF RICHARD. If you do have solid proof, why aren’t you taking that to the authorities to be investigated?

Running for mayor doesn’t make you magically wise about all things in politics and government. Making a difference in the community can be done without running for office. There are dozens of volunteer opportunities for citizens that want to do something to help their neighbors. One of the most wonderful things about volunteering is doing so without the least bit of fanfare. True giving back doesn’t need to be posted in a newspaper or made into an article Real talk – just because a picture is taken of a guy in a suit shaking hands or cutting a ribbon doesn’t automatically make them better than the guy volunteering in a soup kitchen every Wednesday. It just makes it more visible. You clearly believe that you are a better person than those that haven’t run for elected office. You don’t have a clue what other people have done in private. It is a cheap and narcissist statement with no foundation.

Fake smiles, fake praise, fake promises and fake information are cheap. Showboating is for someone that needs the validation. It is more about them individually than the community collectively. I want someone I can look up to that inspire and motivate me to be a better person. I want to stand next to the person who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty, push themselves and work hard with a smile on their face knowing they have made a difference. It is in the small and quiet ways that we tend to shine the brightest. You know, a little self-reflection never hurts.

P.S. I am smart woman who doesn’t need a crazy or deranged man on my doorstep or work raging about local politics or worse! Clearly you don’t read the news or you would understand the many reasons behind a username.

4 days ago
CrickeeRaven

Cat, I'm sure you didn't miss where the two-time election loser finally admitted what we've known all along from city records, that he hasn't owned his former residence in several years.

As is typical for him, though, that admission was buried in the repeated lie of him winning a court case.

We know people don't get evicted when they win.

We also know he has had the owner of his business office and a nearby neighbor pay the taxes on his former residence -- neither of which would be needed if he had won.

We know that his lender is not named as paying the taxes on the property, which would also be a result of him winning.

He thus remains, by his own words and behavior, a liar and a loser.

4 days ago