Competition for School Committee in Cranston

Andre Araujo alerted me this morning that we have challengers for all of our school committee seats in Cranston except for the seats of Former Mayor Michael Traficante and Frank Lombardi. Here is the rundown:

FRANK S LOMBARDI — City-wide

JESSICA D ROSNER — Ward 1
STEVEN A STYCOS — Ward 1 Incumbent

STEPHANIE A CULHANE — Ward 2
DEBORAH C GREIFER — Ward 2 Incumbent

PAULA B M MCFARLAND — Ward 3
CATHRYN NOTA — Ward 3
MOSES P SAYGBE JR — Ward 3

JANICE RUGGIERI — Ward 4
BRUCE P SACCOCCIO — Ward 4

MICHAEL A TRAFICANTE — Ward 5

JULIE M COLANGELO — Ward 6
ANDREA M IANNAZZI — Ward 6 Incumbent

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7 thoughts on “Competition for School Committee in Cranston

  1. A few names appear to be “new” to the political arena. May bode well for reform.

    Of course, all listed names need to first gather the required # of signatures for nomination to the ballot.

    Any loyal readers care to comment on the unopposed seats?

  2. Oskar:

    I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s appropriate to state again, I think, in this new light — Lombardi took more votes than anyone else in the city in 2006, including the Governor, Lt. Gov, etc., pretty much on his own.

    As for Traf, well, it’s Traf. No more needs to be said, I think.

    In both cases, I can’t imagine anyone would be foolish enough to run against these two.

    Here’s the election results link, btw:

    http://www.elections.ri.gov/2006GE/CRANSTON.htm

  3. Jesse,
    Whether one is a Democrat or a Republican, a slick, polished politician or a community activist taking it up a level; at the end of the day no one likes to lose. Running against either of these School Committee titans would net the same result–a crushing, disheartening defeat.

  4. Richard:

    To take the discussion a step further…

    I’m sure there are more than a few local candidates who would love to cozy up to the “titans,” except the school board elections are nonpartisan. Now, I don’t know whether that means SC candidates necessarily have to stay away from “political” events, per se, or just that they’re not running under any party’s banner and are free to attend what they want.

    All I know is that, if I were a candidate on either side, I wouldn’t reject offers of help from either one. Both Lombardi and Traf could help other candidates win.

  5. There have been a couple of stories published in the last few days that may have a bearing on the school committee races. (*Explanation follows.)

    First, the Herald had a piece on how the city is maneuvering to use the surplus account to cover an estimated $4.1 million hole in the school budget without having it count toward next budget year’s spending plan.

    Link is here:

    http://cranstononline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6529&Itemid=175

    Second, the ProJo had a related piece about the city’s bond rating that mentions the school budget situation, although it suggests that the city may still be “on the hook” for an increase to the school department in 2008-09.

    Link is here: http://www.projo.com/ri/cranston/content/wb_cranston_bond_rating_06-26-08_GCAKLK2_v10.3dabed4.html

    * The question is, how do the school committee candidates feel about this development? Clearly, school administrators don’t like being told that they were irresponsible to spend “above their means,” in the words of Corsino Delgado.

    Then again, it was the negotiation of the last contract that got us — all of us — into this mess. And, as I understand it, the contract is due for renegotiation this August (if I’m wrong, please correct me). I hope the incumbents take a strong stance this year, acknowledge the reality of the city’s fiscal difficulties, negotiate a financially responsible contract, and stop viewing the city’s surplus as a slush fund to cover their deficit spending.

    Not to mention, this contract is going to bind the collective hands of the next school committee. I hope the incumbents take this into consideration, as well — but this time, the right way. As in, don’t just pass the problems off to the next crew.

    Gven all of this, I’d like to offer a radical idea: The current school committee could refuse to negotiate a new contract until next March. That would keep the existing pact in place until then (even if the union threatens work-to-rule) and give the new school committee a shot at working out a better deal. It’ll also prevent making the new contract an election-year union-pandering tactic.

  6. I agree with Jesse that something needs to be done. Putting off the negotiations until March seems like as good an option as any–unless there are any serious reasons not to.

    It makes no sense to settle the contract before the election. The school is 80% (or whatever) of the total budget, so it would make more sense to hold this over until the new admin is in. Otherwise, they could very easily be starting off behind the 8-ball.

    Plus, that might help force the candidates to take public positions on what they think the teachers should and/or should not get. This contract needs public input. It’s truly putting the cart before the horse for the contract to be settled before the election.

  7. klaus:

    There was a reason I chose March, after all — the school budget is due to the city on March 1. I say, the school board could pass a budget with an estimated increase for the contract, tell the union that’s as high as the new pact will go, and put the onus on the union leadership to accept or reject the offer.

    Worst case, the new contract goes to the limit of the new budget — which, conceivably, would be a more reasonable number than we’ve seen the last couple of years.

    I know it sounds like a stretch, but at least it would change the dynamic this time around.

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