Editor’s note: The Sept. 12 primary between Anthony Sinapi, a frequent critic of the Warwick School Department, and current School Committee Chairwoman Bethany Furtado, a 12-year member of and long-running leader of the board, also the chief elected official of the School Department, will grant one or the other with an unopposed candidacy to represent Ward 8 on the Warwick City Council.
WARWICK, RI — Bethany Furtado, the current Warwick School Committee chairwoman, a Warwick native and the endorsed Democrat for Ward 8 in the 2018 primary Sept. 12, hopes to apply her 12 years on the Committee to improve services and economic growth, control spending and provide quality education in Warwick.
Furtado and her husband Gilbert Furtado of 32 years, have three children, Matthew, 30, Nicolas, 28 and Zachary, 26. She has worked as a freight broker for D&S Logistics in Cranston since 2002
“I have lived in Warwick my whole life and I love this city. My grandparents (paternal) ran a small business in Apponaug, Your Host, where my parents met. My grandfather was the Chief of Police( James F. Lynch) and was a founder of the FOP in Warwick on Tanner Avenue.
“My father, John D Lynch Sr., was very active in Warwick and State Democratic politics. It was instilled in me at a young age to give back to the community that has provided so many opportunities to my family and me,” Furtado said.
Warwick Post asked each Ward 8 candidate the same series of questions about issues facing the City Council, its relationship with the School Committee and the City budget. Here are Furtado’s answers:
The School Committee asked the City Council for $8 million, which would’ve required raising taxes beyond the legal maximum. Then the school department purchased a full-page ad in the Warwick Beacon threatening to sue the city if the Council didn’t agree to it. How would you explain these actions?
FURTADO: The budget was formulated based on the needs of the district. For several years , the school department was level funded on the city side and we also realized reductions in state aid based on declining student enrollment. The advertisement you are asking about was for an RFP to audit the programs and finances of the school department. It was not an ad threatening anything.
City Councilors attend School Committee meetings. Why has that not resulted in better communication/relations between the two bodies?
FURTADO: There has been a disconnect between the City Council and School Committee. We are actively working to repair the relationship between the two.
The School Committee begins meetings by immediately entering executive session, leaving the public to wait for the regular meeting. Is this the best use of the public’s time and interest in the work of the Committee?
FURTADO: The monthly school committee meetings are business meetings. The School Committee meets once per month to conduct the business of the district. There are items that need to be discussed prior to the public meeting as the committee as a whole must be present for those discussions to do so otherwise would violate open meetings.
Parents were dissatisfied with the School Department and School Committee’s failure to inform them of broken fire alarms in elementary schools and serious allegations of discrimination against a student at Cedar Hill Elementary School. What have you done and/or suggested to improve this?
FURTADO: The Superintendent is in charge of day to day operations of the district. The issue at Cedar Hill was handled in accordance with the law.
The FY18 budget ended with no tax increase and a $4.2 million deficit and FY19 was built with a $3.8 structural deficit and a maximum tax increase. How would you avoid these situations in the future?
FURTADO: As the school department has done since Anthony Ferrucci has been the Chief Financial Officer, the school committee gets monthly updates as far as expenditures and encumbered monies. I believe that monthly update is extremely beneficial. That would be helpful on the city side as well.
What are your thoughts about the city’s infrastructure spending on WFD trucks?
FURTADO: I believe that what has happened on the school side with regard to differed maintenance, there is a similar situation on the city side. You can defer maintenance only so long before it becomes a serious issue. Trucks, even with regular upkeep and maintenance are only made to last so long. Investing in proper equipment for the safety and well being of the community is vitally important.