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MEET THE CANDIDATES: North Kingstown School Committee

October 31, 2012

Name: Lynda Avanzato
Address: 29 Collins Court, North Kingstown, RI
Date of Birth: October 1, 1963
Phone Number: (401) 294-1164
E-Mail Address:
Office Sought: North Kingstown School Committee
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Occupation: Attorney
Education: BA: Boston University; JD: Washington College of Law
Political Background: Incumbent School Committee member, four years; Elected in 2008.
Community Activities (Five or fewer): Involvement in the school's PTOs, the NK5K.
Why have you decided to run for office for first time (or again)? Because I think we're in a difficult situation, I think I've made a difference and I think I can continue to make a difference.
What are your platforms/plans for the area if elected? My ultimate goal and the most important thing is maintaining the education we're currently providing the students, that is to maintain the programs as they are now and not erode them any further due to funding concerns.

Name: Robert Jones
Address: Saunderstown, RI
Date of Birth: Nov., 1965
Phone Number: (401) 294-6142
E-Mail Address:
Office Sought: North Kingstown School Committee
Party Affiliation: Republican
Occupation: Higher Education Administrator
Education: BS Economics, United States Military Academy at West Point; Masters in Public Administration, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, MA, US Naval War College.
Political Background: As a career Army officer until recently, the professional ethic in the military is to remain apolitical.
Community Activities (Five or fewer): Board member, coach, Ocean State Soccer School; Volunteer, North Kingstown Flag Football; Member, North Kingstown Audit Committee.
Why have you decided to run for office for first time (or again)? One of my West Point classmates, who is running for office in another state, has a great line – “Not left, not right, but forward.” I am running for school committee because I believe that North Kingstown needs new people to bring fresh perspectives with relevant managerial and leadership experiences to help move us forward to create a true, 21st century school district. We need a district that is accountable and transparent to all citizens, collaborates with the town council and other stakeholders in the community, and thinks strategically on providing the highest value for taxpayer and community resources.
What are your platforms/plans for the area if elected? My platform is a school committee that “ACTS” – is Accountable, Collaborative, Transparent, and Strategic. In specific areas, the first issue would be the budget process. I would bring more transparency to the process, greater connection to educationally effective practices, and “easy to read” budgets so the community members are fully informed on the resources they are asked to provide in support of education. Second, I would improve the collaboration with the town council by supporting joint efforts that build on common functional areas to streamline and improve administration and operations. Finally, I would ask for a full review of best practices across high-performing school districts so we adopt across-the-board practices and processes in areas such as transportation, maintenance, and administration that gives us the “biggest bang for the buck.” I would also like to see more transparent reporting that shows the citizens how the district is performing in multiple areas. Just as parents can view their child’s grades on-line, citizens should be able to review the district’s performance.

Name: Augustine “Gus” Manocchia
Address: 12 Casandra Lane , North Kingstown
Date of Birth: April 14, 1960
Office sought: NK School Committee
Party Affiliation: Republican
Occupation: Physician Executive
Education: BA Biology, Boston University, 1982; Brown University Medical School, 1986.
Why have you decided to run for office for first time (or again)? I am concerned as a taxpayer and parent that my taxes continue to rise each year while standardized test scores have plateaued, and in some cases deteriorated.
What are your platforms/plans for the area if elected? Lack of transparency in the budgeting process – I intend to open and make transparent the process to all interested stakeholders, to the extent the laws allow.
The level of personal accountability for job performance at all employee levels in the school system is unclear – I seek to institute at merit based pay structure to ensure “value” is returned to the taxpayers for their dollar.
There is significant dysfunction among existing school committee members and there appears to be little-to-no cooperation/collaboration between the School Committee and the Town Council – I seek, with other members of the Republican team, to create a cadre of members that think alike and have already shown an ability to work together to address these issues. In addition, if a number of our candidates get elected to the Town Council , we expect to create a very positive and collaborative working relationship going forward.

Name: Cheryl A. Clarkin
Address: 155 Finch Lane, Saunderstown
Date of Birth: May 1, 1965
Daytime Phone Number: (401) 295-2565
Cell Phone Number: (401) 258-1841
E-Mail Address:
Office Sought: North Kingstown School Committee
Party Affiliation: Independent endorsed by GOP
Occupation: Lawyer
Education: B.S. Business Administration Suffolk University; J.D. Suffolk Law School
Why have you decided to run for office for first time (or again)? I have decided to run for a seat on the North Kingstown School Committee for the first time because I believe we need change. I have become frustrated with the lack of communication and collaboration not only between some of the School Committee members but also between the Town Council and School Committee. Clearly, the Town Council and School Committee need to work together, not against each other, to achieve positive results for our schools and our community.
I am also seeking this seat because I believe we need School Committee members who not only have children in the school system and are committed to providing an education for our students which builds a foundation to support life-long learning, but who can also provide a fresh perspective and innovative ideas. In these tough economic times, we need to think outside the box to continually balance budget constraints with a focus on high-achieving education.
As a parent of young children in our school system, I have a vested interest in the education and extracurricular activities our children receive. As a taxpayer, I am committed to fiscal responsibility that will ensure North Kingstown’s reputation of being one of the top towns in which to live and educate our children.
What are your platforms/plans for the area if elected? If elected, I am committed to establishing a much needed, positive working relationship with all School Committee and Town Council members to deal with future budgetary challenges that will affect the education of our children and our taxes. I would like to see a representative from the School Committee and Town Council attend each other’s meetings so that all members are aware of the issues facing our community, especially when it comes to the school budget. I would also ensure that the School Administration prepare a transparent budget that the School Committee and Town Council members can understand and discuss which will lead to better communication on specific and general line items. Finally, I will be a proponent of actively exploring consolidation of town and school services, where appropriate as well exploring consolidation with other school districts to save costs associated with duplicative service.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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