WARWICK, RI — Rick Cascella, 54, of Yale Avenue, a real estate agent with Williams & Stuart Real Estate, lifelong resident and father of two grown sons who have attended Warwick Public Schools through graduation, wants to help the schools improve and get a fair shake.
He’s also owner of The Coffee Grinder at 961 Namquid Dr, Warwick.
This would be the second bid at elected public service for Cascella, who ran for the Ward 1 City Council seat as the Republican candidate in 2016, losing to Democrat Richard Corley. However, Cascella does have a background in public education service as former President of the E.T. Wyman Elementary PTA, and if you’ve been to watch the Pilgrim Patriots play lately, you’ve heard him announcing during the game.
“I’ve got a friendship with all the teachers and the kids,” he said.
Cascella was also the donor of the rock used in the city’s new new Cold War monument at Warwick Veterans Memorial Park last year.
“I’ve always believed in public service,” Cascella said, “I like to see the schools do well.”
As for his interest in joining the School Committee, “I’m doing it because I think they need the help.”
Cascella noted he’s the only candidate running for Distict 1 who has had two children: Harry, 21 and Eddie, 19, go through the school system from elementary school to graduation. That experience, along with his time on the PTA, gives him the perspective the School Committee needs.
One of those needs Cascella says, is an effective advocate for resources and funding for the schools. He says often, the school department is a conspicuous target for critics.
“The School Committee gets caught holding the bag, because they’re the most visible,” Cascella said. He said he doesn’t know how the school department gets anything done when officials are always asking the city for money. Much of the problem, he says, is the rocky relationship between the Schools and the City.
“I hope I can help smooth some of the edges,” Cascella said.
Cascella said he’s seen a lot of arguing among School Committee members, but not a lot of cooperation. Council sessions begin with discussions, but often turn to arguments.
“Before you know it they’re talking more about who was angry instead of what they’re arguing about,” Cascella said.
Cascella also said many seem to misunderstand Superintendent Phil Thornton. “He’s a career administrator. He’s not a guy who wants to ruin things,” he said.
Regarding the school consolidation plan, Cascella said now that it’s underway, the best response to its challenges is a cooperative one. “We have to just talk together and work through this process,” he said.
He said if elected, he understands he’ll be taking on the job in the middle of a very difficult and tenuous situation, but his colleagues on the board will be his guide.
“I have a lot of faith in the other members on the Committee,” Cascella said.