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Thompson to Step Down From School Committee

Republican Joe Thompson has announced he plans to resign from the North Kingstown School Committee Wednesday night.

Republican Joe Thompson plans to officially step down from the North Kingstown School Committee Wednesday night. The first-term committee member will hand in his letter of resignation at Wednesday night's North Kingstown Republican Town Committee meeting after a contentious year on the School Committee.

For Thompson, the frustrations came to a head at the committee’s Dec. 13 meeting when Chair Kimberly Page allowed a , prompting Thompson and fellow School Committee member Bill Mudge to walk out of the meeting.

Thompson believes that, in that meeting, the committee violated Robert's Rules of Order – a handbook for operations and rules of clubs, organizations and other groups – when it allowed the revote after the measure had already been shot down the month prior.

"They just bend the rules whichever way they want to make the outcome what they want," said Thompson.

For Thompson, the real “deal breaker” was when committee members were not allowed to exempt items for the night’s agenda, which would have allowed items to be discussed and voted on separately.

"If the people of this town are not allowed to hear an explanation for how and why their tax money is being spent, then they're not being represented by me because what I told them when I ran [for election] was I'm going to ask questions," said Thompson, who was the second highest vote-getter in the 2010 election behind current School Committee Chair Kimberly Page.

Though Thompson said he had originally intended to resign at the end of the academic year and move out of state to be closer to family, he says he could no longer sit up at the committee table after the events of the last meeting.

"What I'm saying to people by visually being there is that I approve of the process they’re following and I don't approve," said Thompson.

Thompson, who leaves after 13 months on the committee, could be replaced by fellow Republican John Boscardin who came in fifth in the 2010 election behind Mudge. According to town charter, a vacancy on the school committee will first be filled by the candidate who received the highest number of votes among the unsuccessful candidates in the most recent election – in this case, Boscardin. If Boscardin declines the nomination, the North Kingstown Town Council will then nominate a replacement within 30 days of the resignation.

"I'm really disappointed because I think, for the first time, we had someone on [the school committee] who was focused on the prudent and needed expenditures for the town," said Mudge. "We'll continue to try to do that."

For Page, the announcement of Thompson's resignation wasn't unexpected after he put his house on the market in October. Though the two butted heads during several meetings, Page says she bears no animosity.

"You saw in the meetings that we didn't always see eye to eye," said Page. "But I think Joe [Thompson] did a lot of good things and was a very hands-on person, going around to schools and attending events. He volunteered with LINKS and helped with the Science Olympiad team and always made sure to respond to students."

"While well meaning, I think he definitely added to the air of disruption and divisiveness that's making it difficult to do our jobs," said fellow committee member Lynda Avanzato. "When it turns into hours-long discussion on consent agenda, it's holding up the business of the committee and Joe [Thompson] was part of that disruption and chaos."

Thompson may not be the only committee member leaving the table early. According to Mudge, his own future on the committee is "to be determined." Mudge, who suffered a heart attack last summer, doubts he will finish out his four-year term.

"My goals were to concentrate on improving our dialogue with the Town Council and to have an excellent budgeting process that's open," said Mudge. "That's not happened. I hope in the next eight months it gets squared away."

Midlife Momma January 04, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Great info, NKGOP. During Halley's reign-2001 to 2007- I remember Halley repeatedly telling the TC that the school's were UNDERFUNDED year after year ..comparing the amount spent per pupil in NK to Barrington, SK, EG-and NK was at the BOTTOM-according to Jim Halley. This was his way of justifying his astronomical increases each year, most of which went to increasing admin staff and increased contract time for building principals, etc.....It will be interesting to see what the auditors come up with now as they review NKSD spending at the TC's request... They very well may say that now the school's are actually genuinely underfunded NOW......sad, sad, sad....what a mess Halley left behind for others to clean up.....
Govstench January 04, 2012 at 01:48 PM
This committee has been in turmoil for quite some time. It has held the line on spending but unfortunately the town council has blown the savings on their end. Thompson's decision to depart is unfortunate for the town. I would expect to see more of these "departures" from councils and committee's across the state as the financial pressures continue to mount. Decades of out of control spending is finally catching up with these elected officials and more cuts are needed. Using the taxpayer credit card with bond issues will no longer work as there is no appetite for it by the voters. The've had enough of this and want cuts. This school committee has to begin to listen to ALL the voters of this town, not just the parents of students in the school system.
NKRI Transparency January 04, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Dave and Govstench......points well taken!!!!!!!!!
NKGOP Watch January 05, 2012 at 12:45 AM
yeah I remember that situation well. In fact he seemed to hire people with weight problems, who were unqualified, and ethically challenged. Internally I hear it was called "operation big fat liar". what a nightmare. the coup de gras was the lobster bash pigout at that mansion using special ed funds. we taxpayers ended up having to pay back around a quarter million dollars to the FEDS and this clown runs for office and STILL says "I didnt do anything". well when he was ousted and the new committee started in with that fiscal fitness effort, mel benson kept calling it physical fitness and the staff kept getting skinnier and skinnier (and more competent, less likely to lie to the townspeople). what a mad mad mad mad world but it all comes out okay in the end!
NKGOP Watch January 05, 2012 at 05:58 AM
THE NUMBER ONE GOVERNMENT COST IS LABOR Governor, should a teacher who gets ten weeks a year off, leaves early when compared to most white collar professionals (many of whom make less) be paid around $80,000 plus cadillac health (with only 20% copay) PLUS defined benefit pension that costs 1-2 MILLION to fulfill? Its like making every teacher a 2 Million lotto winner upon retirement! Private industry does some amazing work, with some amazing talent, and they hire at MARKET SALARY RATES. Amazing isn't it.... This is not to pick on a teacher, police, highway worker or anyone.... but its like the federal budget having 80% of its costs go to social security, medicare, medicaid, and defense. If you want to stop borrowing 40% of the cost to run our country, you CANNOT address it without looking at those four programs. On the municipal level, its about labor costs. Would it kill muni workers to take a modest pay cut until the economy and tax base can start growing again? Personally, I would rather have my job at 90% compensation than NO JOB.

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