teacher appointed to fill vacant Richmond seat on Chariho School Board | Richmond and Hopkinton

RICHMOND — The City Council has named a Rhode Island middle school teacher with 27 years of education experience to fill a seat on the Chariho School Board left vacant following the recent death of Sheila Grover.

In a split vote last week, Richmond City Council voted 3-2, with Speaker Nell Carpenter and Councilwoman Lauren Cacciola opposing, to appoint Karen J. Reynolds as Richmond’s representative. to the school committee. She will replace Grover, who was elected to fill a vacant seat after running uncontested last fall but resigned earlier this year for health reasons.

Grover died at her childhood home in Wilbraham, Massachusetts on October 27.

Councilman James Palmisciano, after wishing Grover’s family well and thanking them for their service alongside other council members, said the city was fortunate to have two qualified candidates in Reynolds and the contestant Jessica Purcell. Both were publicly interviewed on Nov. 2 before Reynolds’ appointment.

“I think having someone who has been an educator for over 20 years brings a unique perspective and insight to moving our school committee in the right direction. She has the necessary experience as a parent, as an educator, as a taxpayer and as a student advocate,” Palmisciano said. “The role of the educator is a huge element that we lacked in our school committee.”

Reynolds will serve a term ending in November 2024, when the seat will be filled through local elections.

The appointment marks the second new member to join the committee last week after members of Hopkinton City Council voted 3-2 to appoint endawnis Spears (Dine/Ojibwe/Chickasaw/Choctaw) to replace Stall, who resigned from his position. seat after complaining about transparency issues. and alleged efforts to silence him and prevent him from putting several items on the agenda of school committee meetings.

A lifelong educator who has worked for the past 22 years as a middle school teacher for the Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School District, Reynolds has been a resident of Richmond for 20 years and a mother of three sons, two of whom graduated from the school. secondary Chariho and a fourth. student at Richmond Elementary School. She has volunteered in the community in a variety of non-political capacities.

In both interviews and in a letter to the board included with her application, Reynolds said she intended to be a “positive contributing member of the school committee who focuses on what is best for all stakeholders. “.

“I have a vested interest in keeping the Chariho Regional School District on a positive trajectory,” she said. “(My family has) always been pleased with the high quality education provided by our community, so I will focus on maintaining programs and services that benefit all students.”

In her role as a teacher over the past two decades, Reynolds said she has seen firsthand the challenges facing educators, including trying to meet the growing mental health, socio-emotional and academic needs of students without overburdening teachers and staff.

She said changes can be achieved through strong policy development, thorough training and improved communication between staff members. Reynolds said she realizes the costs are significant, as additional spending means an additional tax burden for Richmond residents, and will work to provide a balanced budget that meets the needs of students and taxpayers.

Opposing Reynolds’ nomination last week, Carpenter and Cacciola said they were impressed with each nominee but simply felt Purcell would be in the best position to represent the city.

Purcell is a graphic designer, art director and mother of two, ages 4 and 7, with years of community volunteer experience. She was an organizer of RI Food Swap from 2012 to 2015; worked as a mentor for Moms for Moms with Families First RI; was a member of the MOMs Club of Chariho 2014-17; is a member of the Gnome Home Daycare Advisory Board; and is a member of the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association.

“I can personally relate to many of the challenges our families face because I’ve been through a lot myself,” she said.

During Tuesday’s interviews, Councilman Rich Nassaney argued that the public should have been given the opportunity to support his candidates and speak out, but Carpenter rejected the concept and said the council had always held the interviews in public, but without public discussion. She cited more than half a dozen examples over the past decade.

“This council, historically, has never given the public an opportunity to comment on these nominations,” Carpenter said. “I can give examples. There is a precedent and we will not deviate from it.