November 21, 2014
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Ahearn, Bachus newest school committee members
Warwick Beacon photos
AT THE POLLS: Jennifer Townsend-Ahearn was ready to greet voters as they arrived early Tuesday morning at the Shields Post in Conimicut.

First-time candidate and stay-at-home mom Jennifer Townsend-Ahearn pulled out on top by about 5,000 votes in Tuesday night’s election for School Committee. With 35 percent of the vote, Ahearn cruised to a victory for one of the two at-large seats.

Patrick Maloney, a current School Committee member who, unlike his fellow incumbent Chris Friel, sought re-election, polled 20 percent of the vote, and was upset by Karen Bachus, another newcomer who works for DCYF who earned 24 percent at the polls. David Testa, who ran unsuccessfully for the District 1 seat in 2010, also garnered about 20 percent of the vote.

So it’s Bachus and Ahearn who will take the two citywide seats come January.

“I’m very excited,” said Ahearn yesterday. “But I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.”

Ahearn, who recently returned to her home state of Rhode Island after living on the West Coast for several years, said she’s doing this for the kids. A stay-at-home mom to two children in the Warwick system, Ahearn has served on several PTAs and also the Food Advisory Committee, which works in conjunction with Sodexo to improve the nutrition of school lunches.

Ahearn believes it’s her sincerity and connection to the people that contributed to her high numbers in the polls.

Because it was her first time running for office, Ahearn said she was initially apprehensive about the outcome. But as the numbers began to come in last night, Ahearn said her feelings changed.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I really could have this,’” she said. Ahearn said she is grateful to the voters and supporters for helping her to win.

Maloney, a four-year member of the School Committee who won his first bid for the at-large seat in 2008, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the results of Tuesday’s election.

“I know I’ve done a good job for the last four years,” he said.

Maloney said the people of Warwick could look at his record over the last four years and see that he has worked hard for the schools and the children. Now he hopes that what he’s done will not be undone by those new to the committee.

“I wish them luck,” he said. “They have a lot of hard work in front of them and I hope they’re up to the task. Warwick schools deserve 110 percent from their leaders.”

Maloney said he would consider running again, either for School Committee or another elected office. For now, he plans to spend more time with his family.

David Testa, who faced the same defeat in 2010, said he’s unsure if he’ll toss his hat into the ring again.

“It was disappointing,” he said. “But it is what it is. I wish both of them the best of luck.”

Testa said Ahearn’s and Bachus’ campaign expenditures are what put them over the top at the polls. For Testa, spending a lot of money on a non-partisan School Committee seat did not seem necessary.

“But I’m not naïve,” he said.

For the victors, it’s time to prepare for January, when they’ll take their place on the committee.

Although Bachus did not return calls as of press time yesterday, she has made her main priorities clear. When asked what she believes the most important issue facing Warwick schools is, Bachus zeroed in on funding.

“State and federal government constantly bombards schools with unfunded mandates,” wrote Bachus for a special election section of the Beacon. “These mandates must end – or they must be funded by those who mandate them.”

Bachus said the system needs to be fixed, and Warwick needs to look to other sources, like awards, grants and business partnerships, as avenues for additional money.

“We cannot continue to rely on our taxpayers,” she said.

Ahearn said her focus now is on getting acclimated with the issues and how the School Committee operates. With a budget already in place, Ahearn said she would take a look at the discretionary funds the School Committee has to work with. She also wants to set up a meeting between the School Committee and the various PTAs throughout the city so the Parent Teacher Associations can communicate their questions and concerns directly to the committee members. She plans to do something similar for administrators and teachers.

“I want to bring everybody together,” she said. “We’re in this together for the kids.”

For Ahearn, making the school system stronger is all about interconnectivity and communication. She encourages those interested to contact her with their questions and suggestions at ahearnforkids@gmail.com

“I would love to hear any ideas, concerns or comments,” she said.


Comments
17 comments on this item

First, the Warwick School Committee needs to address the issue of the School Superintendent in an open manner before Warwick's residents.

After that they need to address the School Budget/funding issue(s). It's fine to search for alternative funding sources, but the School Committee needs to accept the fact that Warwick School enrollment is declining; with airport expansion it's likely to continue declining & the School Commitee needs to budget based on that assumption/likelihood.

“State and federal government constantly bombards schools with unfunded mandates,” wrote Bachus for a special election section of the Beacon. “These mandates must end – or they must be funded by those who mandate them.”

Um, I am glad Ms. Bachus got elected to Congress, no wait the General Assembly, no wait. . .

Tough to change mandates when you have no authority to. The School Committee is in for some looooonnnnnnggggg sessions.

Markye, The new members of the committee will also not be able to comment on the superintendent issue. If they talk about it, the schools will have the potential to be sued and then there will definitely be nothing left in the budget and no funding available. How would you react if your current employer talked with the media about you employment status? How about your work performance? Why is no one asking how the city worker who stole the equipment is doing while back on the job with $8000 of back pay for no work?

Please attend a school committee meeting and review the School committee budgets for the last 4 years? The school committee has closed a $6 million dollar deficit each of the last 2 years without having additional funds. The city has raised taxes $30 million over the last 4 years and all the money has gone to the city, not the schools. The school committee is at the same level of funding as it was in 2009. What other city department can make that claim in this State? None. That is a fact. I addressed the school enrollment declining by not filling positions and the schools are looking at closing additional schools. Good luck to the new members, I hope they are up to the task. I do not want Warwick to be the next Central Falls or Woonsocket.

Mr. Testa I voted for Ahearn because she knocked on my door and seemed nice. Not because I saw any signs. Had you knocked on my door and seemed competent I would have voted for you too. But she said she was a lifelong resident. What is the truth? Did she live on the west coast?

There are 60,000 registered voters in Warwick. It is impossible to knock on every door. Ms. Ahearn is a "stay at home" mom so she had an advantage over the other candidates. She also passed out pamphlets at Open houses and posted signs on school property. This is against regulations. She broke the very policies she will be tasked with creating. How is it that a person that feels the rules don't apply to them should be in charge of the rules. I spoke with her and she told me she was laid off from her job. There is nothing wrong with that considering today's economy. This was spun to be a choice to stay home with her kids to be a "stay at home" mom. She said she was a lifelong resident but she, in fact, lived on the west coast. Seeming nice is great but the school committee is trusted with approximately 55% of the city budget, approximately $158 Million. I would want someone qualified even if they didn't seem nice. David Cicilline seems nice but he left Providence in shambles. He was re-elected though because he seems nice. What has that gotten for RI? Everyone running for office seems nice.

The union sent out flyers supporting Bachus. It stated, "Bachus will back us". Congrats Warwick, a union member is now on the committee. With the WISE union contract up this year, I am sure no details of the school strategy will be told to the union by the person they paid to get elected. She owes them and will be required to pay them back. Warwick is screwed. She got the full support of the WISE union and the Teachers union... wake up people!

A politician lying to you... WHAT BLATHER!

Mr. Testa, it sounds like Ahearn has more time than you to spend on school issues.

?

Patientman, where has Testa posted? You keep saying Mr Testa? Ahearn has never even been to one School Committee meeting. Bachus hasn't been to any meetings either. I go to all of them and they are not there. The only school issue that I care about is not going over budget.

Congratulations Karen Bachus and Warwick. Karen pulled the wool over everyone's eyes. She is the 1st Vice President of the SEIU Local 580. Service Employees International Union. Check it out:

http://seiulocal580.org/leadership_page (copy and paste into your browser window)

Karen Bachus

1st Vice President

DCYF--Child Protective Services (Providence)

401-785-0206

Local 580 General Membership Meeting

Submitted by KABachus on 23 September 2012 - 12:52pm.

Calendar print

Start: All day event

Due to the Veteran's Day Holiday the Local 580 General Membership meeting will be held on Monday, 19 November 2012 at 4:30 PM at the Cranston Portuguese Club on Second Avenue in Cranston. All members are encouraged to attend.

Maybe we should all attend their next meeting and let them know how we feel. Wolf in sheep's clothing!

No one goes to school committee meetings, No one protested the recently approved teachers contract with salary increases. The largest budget in the city goes unquestioned and the decisions of the School Committee go unquestioned.

GordianKnot, once again, the school committee for the last 4 years has had a balanced budget. The school committee has the same funding since 2008. The city has raised their side by $30 million since 2008. So I guess you could say the school committee is doing their job even when people aren't watching. The city raises their budget right out in front of everyone and no one protests that either. There is usually a school committee member at every city council meeting. The mayor and city council NEVER attend a school committee meeting. This way they can ignore everything and point out every fault the schools make or make up problems that don't exist. Say what you want GordianKnot, you can fool some of the people some of the time but you are not fooling me. The teacher raise is paid for with the concessions that were given. The co-pay was solidified and Jr High School weighting was reduced which will lead to a reduction in staff, again.

Mr. Maloney: I want to congratulate you for the good job you and the school committee have done balancing the budget over the last four years when the city has cut the budget by millions of dollars. Back in 2010-2011 the busdget weas cut 5 percent, meabning you had to cut obver $6 million in spending.

On the other hand the city budget lead by Mayor Scott Avedisian and the city council have increased spending each and every year to record levels. If the city did the same thing you did, the taxpayers of Warwick would not have had property tax and car tax increases. THAT'S A FACT!

@Gordiankinot - you really need to educate yourself on the school vs, city budget, because if you did you will find that Mr. Maloney and the school department over the last 10 years have been the only thing between MASSIVE tax increases or insolvency in Warwick.

Thank you again Mr. Maloney for your service to the students and the entire school system and not forgetting the taxpayers who support the entire system.

I don't blame Mr. Maloney for being upset that he lost the election to Karen bachus who was recently convicted of a felony breaking and entering as well as malicious damage to a 6 month old child's belongings....she has been charged by the Warwick police dept...and she most definitely mentally unstable.....what a great candidate for school committee!! I am completely disgusted with !!

???

mother22cs25. Thank you for posting this information. Could you please contact me directly. I would like to know more about this. Thank you,

patrick@maloney4schools.com

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