CUMBERLAND – Philip Thornton, the city’s former superintendent of schools who left for the same post at Warwick in 2015, is back, ready to take over the role after the superintendent. Bob Mitchell officially retires in June.
“The Cumberland School Committee is pleased to announce that after a comprehensive research and interview process, we will once again welcome Dr. Philip Thornton as the next Superintendent of the Cumberland School Department,” the school committee said in a press release this week. “Dr. Thornton will replace the Superintendent. Mitchell who is retiring at the end of the school year. Dr. Thornton is a familiar face to the District having served as its Superintendent from 2011 to 2015.”
The school committee will hold a formal vote tonight, April 29, on Thornton’s reappointment.
While at Cumberland, Thornton often expressed dismay that Cumberland was last in terms of per student funding. He had generally earned the respect of other school officials during his four years at Cumberland, according to a 2015 Valley Breeze story.
“Thornton is ready to leave Cumberland after waging a four-year battle for school funding that has seen him complain repeatedly – from 2011 and again in 2015 – that Cumberland is spending less per student than any other system. state, including the economically disadvantaged town of Woonsocket, ”read the story at the time.
These funding battles have eased somewhat in recent years. Thornton returns to a district that has made substantial progress in academic achievement under Mitchell and is about to embark on a major effort to modernize all school facilities. It also has the advantage of having Antonio DiManna as deputy superintendent, someone who has been widely praised for his efforts to improve academic performance in Cumberland and to place the district in the top five of the districts in the tests at the l statewide.
DiManna told The Breeze in January that he would not pursue the top post, saying he was committed to keeping his program team together to continue the work he started six years earlier.
Thornton left the North Kingstown school system in 2011 to become superintendent at Cumberland. He said he is now ready to return to the district.
“I have been offered and accepted the position of superintendent for the Cumberland School Department. I really enjoyed being part of a strong administrative team at Warwick and together a lot has been accomplished, ”Thornton said in a statement to media this week. “I now look forward to having the opportunity to return to Cumberland and work with their school committee, administrative team, teachers and staff to continue the great work that is going on in the district. “
After reviewing dozens of resumes, the Cumberland Superintendents Search Committee reviewed the references of 17 applicants with varying backgrounds and backgrounds, the Cumberland School Board said in its statement. The committee included a variety of stakeholders, including teachers, school staff, administration, elected officials and community members. The committee ultimately interviewed four candidates, overwhelmingly recommending Thornton to the school committee as the most qualified candidate.
The school committee then spent several hours interviewing Thornton before voting unanimously to offer him a contract, which he accepted.
“We are confident that Dr Thornton will successfully lead the district through its challenges and opportunities ahead, including the pandemic-related challenges we continue to face and the opportunities created by the Capital Improvement Project of 79 million dollars due to start over the summer, “read the statement.
The Warwick Post this week detailed Thornton’s somewhat stormy tenure in Warwick, including a community call for his resignation in 2017 after staff failed to alert parents that two elementary schools had been operating without fire alarms for a long time. month. The outlet also reported on the Warwick School Department’s lengthy efforts to keep content from the Ragosta report detailing the handling of the sexual misconduct allegations against a science teacher silent. Thornton’s HR manager threatened the Warwick Post and Warwick Beacon with libel suits to prevent disclosure of the details of the report, but the story was reported, and it showed the HR director downplayed and denied the student sex misconduct charges against Mario Atoyan, among other claims.
Funding schools was also a hot topic in Warwick during Thornton’s tenure there, including a 2019 hubbub of over $ 7.75 million in proposed cuts to schools, including the entire budget of $ 1.3 million for school sports. Much of this funding was subsequently restored.