Cobden reelected school chair, Testa voted vice chair

Posted 1/19/22

The Warwick School Committee has a new vice chairperson after the Committee voted unanimously in favor of picking David Testa to the position. 

Testa replaces Nathan Cornell who served as …

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Cobden reelected school chair, Testa voted vice chair


The Warwick School Committee has a new vice chairperson after the Committee voted unanimously in favor of picking David Testa to the position. 

Testa replaces Nathan Cornell who served as vice chair from 2021-2022. Each year the Committee votes on the chair, vice chair, and clerk position. Cornell nominated Testa for the position. 

Cornell, a 2017 Toll Gate High School graduate  was first elected to the School Committee in 2018, serving District 3. He is up for re-election again in November.

“It is always good to change positions time and again. I have had the honor of being elected Clerk and Vice Chair in my tenure on the School Committee,” said Cornell in a statement following the meeting. “David Testa is starting his sixth year on the School Committee and has never held an officer position. He deserves the Vice Chairmanship and I wish him the best in that role.”

Testa was first elected to the School Committee In 2016. He was re-elected to a four-year-term as a city wide Committee member in 2020. 

Holding onto the Chairperson position is Judy Cobden, who was first elected to the position last year beating out then Chairperson Karen Bachus. At the time Cobden was Vice Chair of the Committee. Cobden is up for re-election in November. 

Bachus was nominated for the vice chairperson position  by Testa but she didn’t receive the three votes necessary to be elected. 

Kyle Adams, who represents District 1 on the School Committee was re-elected as Clerk without any opposition.

Reflecting on past year 

As Chair, Cobden said that she wanted to change the culture of the position itself. 

“I wanted to take a more teamwork approach to my leadership and I believe I have done so with not only the School Committee but the Administration, teachers, and staff,” said Cobden. 

Cobden said that it means that everything they have accomplished has been done as a group effort. 

In the spring of last year, the School Committee was faced with an important task of picking its next superintendent after then Supt. Phil Thornton announced that he would be leaving the District to go back to Cumberland on July 1. 

“This School Committee successfully changed our leadership in admin by mostly promoting from within with a few external hires,” said Cobden. 

In May the School Committee unanimously approved Lynn Dambruch, then director of elementary education and assistant superintendent, as superintendent and William McCaffrey, director of secondary education as assistant superintendent.

Cobden refers to it as a “dream team.”

“Both I feel have proven their leadership in their positions and the amazing teamwork they have formed throughout the entire administration,” said Cobden. “Furthermore many things some get noticed and some don't have been completed as a group effort such as a new curriculum, better technology, better security, finishing Phase 1 and 2 of the Building of new schools, new Contracts with the WTU and the WISE Union.”

Additionally, Cobden noted that they have a “much better and closer relationship with the Mayor, City Council and both union's.”

Like every other school district across the country, Cobden recognized that they are still faced with the ups and downs that come with COVID-19. 

“We are sailing in uncharted waters with COVID and some weeks things change daily but always weekly,” said Cobden. “After 2019  and 2020 we were able to have an amazing graduation at the Aldrich Mansion and will continue to do it for this year. This year we were able to open in person with all administration and staff members trying their hardest to get through each day. For this coming year we seriously want to keep kids in person and provide a great education to all Warwick students despite the hurdles this virus continues to create.”

Aside from navigating COVID, Cobden said that the School District is also hopeful to stay on course with previously approved bond projects and hopes that this fall voters in Warwick will approve a bond for two new high schools. 

“We also plan on staying on target with Bond Projects even with the supply and demand issues for materials,” said Cobden. “Furthermore, we hope to get the new building project onto the 2022 ballot with hopes the community will want and support it. Of course there are so many other issues to be focused on such within curriculum, technology, services, programs, security, busing, lunch programs, and policies, to name a few, that we will continue to focus on.”

Cobden said that she is looking forward to serving again as chair this year.

“I am honored to be re-elected as chair for the year 2022. I also look forward to having Mr. Testa as my vice chair,” said Cobden. “In 2021, the position of Chair of the Building Committee became open and I offered it to him as he has been on the committee and is very passionate about it. He accepted the position and has been doing a great job and have enjoyed working with him on this. I also appointed him to my negotiation team for the WISE Union Contract and he and I worked well through that process too.” 


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