The first four candidates vying to fill a vacancy on the School Committee were interviewed by City Councilors on Wednesday 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 interviewed on Wednesday night were James Dring, David Sklarz, Ed.D, David Vieira, and Jennifer Jackson.

Vieira, who is a director for Newport Community School, is waiting on response from state Ethics Commission to see if their would be any conflict of interest.

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 once all interviews are completed.

Most applicants were asked by council at their end of their interviews if they’d be interested in other opportunities in city government (boards, commissions) if they are not selected as the the new school committee member. All said yes.

Among the crowd of ten in the audience were two school committee members, Ray Gomes and Sandra Flowers.

The remaining four candidates who have applied for the vacancy will be interviewed on Thursday evening at 5:30 pm. Those candidates include (in interview order) Robert Power, Ed.D., Michael Cullen, Elizabeth Murphy, and Stephanie Winslow.

The City Council’s vote to appoint one of the applicants will be held in open session at a future meeting.

During a City Council Workshop in February on the School Committee vacancy, Councilor McLaughlin proposed the idea of doing a straw vote. Mayor Bova told What’s Up Newp that it is possible that a vote could take place at Newport City Council’s next Regular Council Meeting (on March 11th), but she wasn’t completely sure yet.

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.”

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Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.