Warren council cries foul over school superintendent vote

Mario Andrade was named the Bristol Warren Regional School District's new superintendent Monday night. Mario Andrade was named the Bristol Warren Regional School District's new superintendent Monday night.

 

Mario Andrade was named the Bristol Warren Regional School District's new superintendent Monday night.

Mario Andrade was named the Bristol Warren Regional School District’s new superintendent Monday night.

 Warren Town Council members are incensed about the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee’s decision Monday night to appoint a new school superintendent from within, without conducting a search for the $140,000 per year position.

School committee members voted to promote Mario Andrade to superintendent, effective July 1, with a three-year contract. He will replace his former boss, Melinda Thies, who announced her retirement two weeks ago. The vote was 7 to 1, with school committee member Susan Rancourt of Warren opposed.

“I’m voting no on this, not because of the person that’s being recommended, but because of the process,” she said.

When asked by audience member Linda Rimoshytus why the committee did not conduct a full, public search, committee chair Paul Silva said:

“The only comment I can make … is that the school committee as a whole had a discussion … It was the consensus of this group that he (Mr. Andrade) was more than qualified. Rather than take any more time, expense or anything else to see if anybody else was out there, we believed we already had the best person available.”

Added committee member Marge McBride, “I’d vote nine times” for Mr. Andrade.

One town over, news of the appointment has angered members of the Warren Town Council, several of whom noted that two Bristol council members, Ed Stuart and Nathan Calouro, were at the meeting and according to committee chairman Paul Silva were there only to witness their colleague’s promotion.

“It really looks like it was a done deal,” said Warren Town Council president Chris Stanley.

“It speaks to the constant what we believe is collusion between the Bristol council and the district. At the end of the day it’s sinful.”

Councilor Cathie Tattrie, who sits on the Joint Finance Committee along with Mr. Stanley and councilor Scott Lial, said the only positive from the meeting was that one of Warren’s representatives, Ms. Rancourt, voted against the appointment. Apart from that, the process was a sham.

“I think they should have put it out there to see what else was available,” Ms. Tattrie said. “That doesn’t even seem like a process to me.”

The fact that two Bristol councilors — one the chairman of the JFC and the other a member — were in the audience wasn’t lost on her either, she added.

“The problem I have with it is that there’s been a closeness between the Bristol council and the school committee that Warren doesn’t have access to,” she said. “It’s unfortunate, and it’s not the only time that they have been a cohesive unit without us knowing about it.”

Neither Mr. Calouro nor Mr. Stuart could be reached Thursday morning. But school committee member John Saviano of Warren said he doesn’t buy the collusion theory. Simply put, he said, Bristol councilors show up more at meetings because they are more involved.

“Listen, I feel badly about what I’m going to say right now,” he said. “I love Warren, I’m a true local. But Bristol members come (to school committee meetings) far more often than Warren members.”

“This appointment was posted on the agenda (which is distributed to Warren and Bristol council members). Don’t you think someone from Warren would have said, ‘I should be at that meeting to see who the superintendent is going to be’? The only ones who came were (Mr. Calouro and Mr. Stuart).”

“Shame on the Warren council members for not being there. How the hell could they not know?”

Though he anticipated some backlash from the vote, Mr. Saviano said he believes the committee made the right decision. The committee’s only hiring powers are to appoint a superintendent and legal counsel, and the board is not required to have an open search process, he said. In this case, members had heard for some time that Ms. Thies was considering leaving. When she gave her resignation two weeks ago and stated her intention to attend law school at Roger Williams University, committee members met in closed session to discuss the next step.

“There’s two ways to do a search,” he said. “One way is to advertise in all the association newspapers and magazines, and look for whoever is the best and most qualified. The board, in its infinite wisdom, we had a meeting and the board felt that Mario had done a very good job. I think the board felt, ‘Why go out to look when we have someone very good from within?’”

Bristol Town Council chairwoman Mary Parella agreed.

“The schools are high performing, the district is really doing well,” she said. “They’re really making progress on the academic side. Different times and different circumstances warrant different responses. If you have someone doing the job and things have been going really well, then if the right deputy or assistant has been a big part of that, then I don’t really see the issue.”

For Warren councilors, the issue remains, and members suggested that there is a difference between what is allowable and what is right. Since it is the school board’s prerogative to fill a position however it sees fit and does not have to answer to either council, Ms. Tattrie and Mr. Stanley said the town does not have much recourse other than outrage:

“It lacks transparency,” Mr. Stanley said. “We’re shocked, but it’s symptomatic of what’s been going on all along. There’s nothing we can do as a body except scream really loud, other than maybe penning off a letter to the (school committee) chairman for such an unspeakable act.”

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19 Comments

  1. joeborges110 said:

    Really! Does transparency mean NOTHING to the school committee members? 55 MILLION dollars per year. 16 THOUSAND dollars per student per year. You couldn’t afford to advertise?

  2. Wil DeGelt said:

    Considering that the average superintendent “retires” from the school district within 5 years of hire, I’d like to know how many former superintendents we’re on the hook for with regard to pensions.

  3. Smile2 said:

    140,000 dollars a year? Really? that is just ridiculous! Is this starting pay? Who decides these salaries? We can’t afford to fund a 15,000 dollar a year mentoring program at the middle school but we can pay ANYONE…. 140,000 dollars? ? And this is someone who the students don’t even know or see.

  4. Linda Rimoshytus said:

    It is with great interest that I read the incredible remarks about the appointment of Mario Andrade as our superintendent of the BWRSD. I am not at all surprised that Warren is outraged as this seems to be their new standard of reaction. The collusion spoken about negatively is outrageous to me. At least there are interested town council members in Bristol who choose to attend this advertised meeting. Warren continues to CHOOSE to ignore its duty to this district… In their lack of interest but most of all, in their lack of any kind of support for our/ their students. They continue to try to cry foul in the financial area.. Yet continue to refuse to show up at meetings, etc to even express their interests. This is their choice… These things are well published in time to attend. As far as salary goes, research the comparisons then do the math yourselves. If people are angry and demanding to know what a superintendent actually does, show up and see and ask these guest ions. Become more active in your schools and stop whining! Even the courts are against you yet you continue to offer discord, untruths and anger. This reaction will not cause any positive action. When the town of Warren becomes more transparent in their own affairs instead of living the life of ” the good old boys.” maybe then you’ll earn to right to complain without the proper correct information. I have been attending various district related meetings and being in attendance in many of our schools for years yet seldom see a public official from Warren at any of them in a positive way. It’s time for the taxpayers of warren to take a good look at its government and the things it doesn’t do in a new light. Maybe they could afford to support the education of their students if they let some decent business come into town to raise the tax base instead of turning everyone away with their overburdening ordinances that arose from the past.

    • DownTown said:

      The schools told Bristol last year that they had to pay $600,000 for extra students yet Matos in his recent decision against Warren showed that Bristol had lowered enrollment by 129 students.

      The JFC is a dishonest group that will do anything to maintain their power.

      If Matos rules against Warren in the other lawsuit Warren should just dump the regional system.

  5. Sean Riverside said:

    I was just asking what does a Superintendent do that warrants $140,000 / year. I know the teachers teach. I know the custodians clean. I know the students learn. But while all that is going on what is the Superintendent doing. I hate to have to go down to a meeting just to ask, “Hey what are you doing that you deserve 140K of our tax dollars?”

  6. Linda Rimoshytus said:

    Sean,
    The superintendent is working hard to plan and implement all the things that need to happen for anything
    else to be accomplished… Plus being active and very visible in every school at any given time. Nothing happens without the horse pulling the wagon
    in life. Whether or not we agree with the person in charge
    they are working hard to make it all possible.

  7. GoodbytoRI said:

    when I moved out of RI, this issue was one of the several reasons why I moved. Tolls, taxes, Money wasted all around town, 140,000.00 to put his name on a letter head for Superintendent. The last one left after running up legal bills, The tax payers of Bristol/Warren are crazy to allow this to go through, If you don’t stop it now, his next pay hike will be 150,000. I don’t understand what makes a council or committee appoint a position without getting the best money can buy, Im sure if they went out to the public they would have found someone more qualified. Shame on Paul Silva and the rest of the school committee. Your burning a hole in all the taxpayers pocket.

  8. Potholes said:

    $140,000…really? You could use that money for 2 full time positions within the school department or just lower the salary for Superintendent to about 80,000 that seems BEYOND fair. Anyways 140,000 that’s just ridiculous!

    • klynch26 said:

      $80,000, potholes your crazy! Teachers make mare than that and Dr. Andrade has his doctorate. Just to set the record straight, his salary is not $140,000, it is $135,000, the same salary we started our current superintendent at when she started over 5 years ago. Dr. Andrade has the experience and the knowledge to continue moving this district forward. Chario’s regional school district has just about the same student population as Bristol Warren and his salary is $10,000 more a year than Dr. Andrade. We did our research, he is the right person for the job and he is being fairly compensated for that job.

      • GoodbytoRI said:

        Klynch26, no $80,000 would be fair, the taxpayers need a break, and since the school committee didn’t bother to shop outside you are paying someone a lot that had you looked outside might have found someone better. Is having a Doctorate mean $55,000. more? This is the type of spending that is breaking the taxpayer, Someday RI should have 4 superintendents for the entire state, instead of 35 separate ones, $135,000 x 35=$4,725,000.00. way to much money for a paper pusher position.

  9. Potholes said:

    I just think 135,000 is ridiculous especially in these hard economic times. I mean pretty soon we’re going to have to make cuts at the town level somewhere yet lets leave the salary of a school superintendent at 135,000. Yup seems about right.

  10. Wil DeGelt said:

    “$80,000, potholes your crazy! Teachers make mare (sic) than that…”
    WOW!
    TEACHING – THE BEST GODDAMN PART-TIME JOB IN THE WORLD!!!

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