The Beacon, in coordination with the Warwick School Department, will be organizing and orchestrating a democratic forum with candidates for school committee in advance of the November election on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pilgrim High School auditorium.
The purpose of the forum is to allow school committee candidates from each of the city’s three districts to voice their reasoning for running, share their top concerns in regards to the state of education in the city and field questions about education-related issues that will, ideally, provide insight into their preparedness to serve on the school committee.
Questions will not only be asked by editorial staff, but a selection of politically minded students from Toll Gate and Pilgrim High Schools will be given the opportunity to ask questions as well. Students from the Pilgrim Studio 107 digital production curriculum will be filming the forum to be aired on public access at a later date prior to the election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
The public will also have the opportunity to submit questions of the candidates. Questions should be emailed to Ethan Harley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candidates will each be given an opportunity to make brief opening statements highlighting their bids for election (or re-election) to their respective district. The order of opening statements will be decided by drawing of numbered straws.
All three districts have two candidates vying for the seat, with District 1 and District 3 guaranteed to result in a new member joining the committee. District 2 has the potential for a new member as well, as incumbent Terri Medeiros faces Judy Cobden.
This means there could potentially be three new members of the five-person school committee next January, which has obvious implications for potential changes to come as a result. This highlights the importance for voters to get to know the people who could potentially represent their children’s interests as members of board that decides everything from how the department spends its money to the policies that are implemented within the schools.
The forum will be moderated by Beacon associate editor Ethan Hartley, who emphasized that, “This forum is intended to provide insights for voters into the candidates seeking a seat on the Warwick School Committee. While emotions may run high in this district, there will be zero tolerance for unnecessary attacks on fellow candidates and statements presented as fact without at least one corroborating source will be challenged.”
Each candidate will be given time to respond to questions asked of them, and opposing candidates will be given time to present opposing arguments to those responses. Candidates originally asked the question would be given an opportunity to provide one final follow-up response to candidates who responded to their original answer to the question.
At the conclusion of the forum – which is scheduled for 90 minutes but could potentially go over that limit – candidates will be given an opportunity to provide a closing statement, proceeding in the same order that they gave their opening statements.