New school chair outlines goals

Posted 1/18/24

New elected School Committee Chair Shaun Galligan has begun to implement changes in his first week in the position.

The changes, according to Galligan that range from new assignments for committee …

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New school chair outlines goals


New elected School Committee Chair Shaun Galligan has begun to implement changes in his first week in the position.

The changes, according to Galligan that range from new assignments for committee members to preparing for the upcoming budget season, are aimed at making the School Committee run smoother.

Among those changes are personnel changes on subcommittees, with Galligan naming himself to the Finance Subcommittee, Michelle Kirby-Chapman and Vice Chair Leah Hazelwood to the Policy Subcommittee, Karen Bachus to the Health and Wellness Subcommittee and two liaisons to committees that did not have School Committee members on them before- David Testa to the Achievement Subcommittee and himself and Hazelwood to the Warwick Special Education Advisory Committee.

“For me, it was all about improving the effectiveness and transparency of the subcommittees,” Galligan said. “I evaluated how they performed in 2023, and then their historical performance - what positive or negative change that they’ve brought to our school district.”

Galligan renamed Testa chair of the School Building Committee, based on Testa’s experience and passion for the project.

“With the construction of the two new high schools [being] a big, polarizing issue within our community, I felt it made sense to retain Mr. Testa in that position as the Building Committee Chair,” Galligan said. “You’ll get his passion for the construction of the new high schools and his knowledge of the process.”

Galligan referenced the City Council practice of holding committee meetings prior to its meetings, but thought that not practical for schools. He thought that would be difficult as subcommittee members having other responsibilities during that time He wants some subcommittee meeting times changed in order to make them more accessible to the public.

“The meetings should be held at 5 p.m. or later, that way members of the public can attend,” Galligan said. “If that is not feasible, than the meeting should be broadcasted through any medium and recorded, so that people can watch it live or at a time that’s convenient for them.”

Last year was Galligan’s first on the council, following his election in 2022. He described his experience joining the committee as a “learning curve” as to how to balance committee responsibilities and his other job, which is a regulatory compliance manager for a food and beverage company based in the United Kingdom.
Galligan didn’t see his increased responsibilities as chair as conflicting with his job or visa versa.

“I can’t recall any time where my professional career has impeded me from upholding my obligations as a School Committee member, and I do not foresee any instances at this time that would prevent me from being an attentive and effective chair,” Galligan said.
Currently, Galligan said he is looking at Warwick Public Schools’ budget process, as the schools will no longer be receiving Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. Any programs funded by the federal money, aimed at minimizing the impact from COVID-19, will have to be funded from the Warwick Public Schools budget from here on in.

“It’s a matter of making sure that we can retain as many of those as possible, and the ones that we are forced to eliminate because they can no longer be funded do not impact student achievement or their education,” Galligan said.

Galligan said a change he proposed that passed in this month’s School Committee meeting- having the full line-item budget in the committee’s hands by the end of the first business day in April- will help the committee prepare more for budget season.

Building trust with the public, Galligan said, is of paramount importance to him, saying trust and confidence in the School Committee has “not been the greatest” in recent years.

By the time his current term is up in 2026, Galligan hopes the committee will have been able to provide as many resources and opportunities as they possibly can to support Warwick students and faculty to achieve great things.

“The real, overarching goal for me is to get our school district to become a best-in-state school district,” Galligan said.


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