The final four candidates vying to fill a vacancy on the School Committee were interviewed by City Councilors on Thursday night.

The vacancy on the School Committee came when Kathleen Silvia resigned her seat effective January 27th, 2020.

In all a total of eight candidates submitted application to serve out the remainder of Silvia’s term. City Council decided to split up candidates into two sessions, with four candidates being interviewed on Wednesday night and four on Thursday night.

The four candidates interviews on Thursday night were Robert Power, Ed.D., Michael Cullen, Elizabeth Murphy, and Stephanie Winslow.

Each candidate was interviewed for twenty minutes and was allowed to share an opening and closing statement. Some of the questions that candidates were asked included;

  • Why do you want to be a school committee member?
  • Why do you think that you’re qualified to be on the school committee?
  • What is your vision for Newport Public schools?
  • How would you ensure all students get the best education possible?
  • How can the schools improve the literacy level of all students?
  • Major responsibility is the budget. How can you assure our taxpayer funds go the furthest, that our money is spent wisely?
  • Do you think the school committee does a good job of communicating and informing residents about the cost of school?
  • What do you think the schools can do to improve graduation rates?
  • What steps can the schools take to get our students ready for the future?
  • What steps can the schools take to get our students ready for the future?
  • What do you see the challenges/ issues are within our schools?

What’s Up Newp plans to provide a recap of the candidates interviews and their answers soon.

The four candidates interviewed on Wednesday night were James Dring, David Sklarz, Ed.D, David Vieira, and Jennifer Jackson.

At the end of Thursday’s interview session, a conversation among City Council indicated that they’d likely discuss all of the candidates in a future executive session. The City Council’s vote to appoint one of the applicants will be held in open session at a future meeting.

Whomever is appointed to fill the vacancy will serve only until a person is elected and qualified at the next municipal election, scheduled to take place on November 3rd.

According to the City Charter, City Councilors are charged with filling, “any vacancy arising from death , resignation or any reason in the membership of the School Committee within thirty (30) days after learning of the vacancy or a soon thereafter as may be possible by a majority vote of all members of the Council; provided, however, the Council shall provide for the public solicitation of applicants.”

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.