RICHMOND — Ryan Callahan, vice chairman of the Chariho School Committee, said he’s “not a very political person,” but decided to run for election to the seat he’s held for two years.
“It’s something that just fit into my wheelhouse,” the Richmond resident said.
Two years ago, Callahan was appointed to the committee, which has representatives from Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkinton.
“Technically this would be my first election,” he said recently over coffee at Higher Grounds in Richmond.
Callahan,45, has two children in the middle school. He is a full-time business manager for FujiFilm in North Kingstown. He’s unaffiliated with a political party and is the only Richmond resident on the ballot for a Chariho seat.
“I like being on the School Committee. I enjoy the process and enjoy being involved in a tangible way with respect to my children’s education,” he said. “And it’s a good way for individuals in our community to serve the community.”
Callahan has a doctorate in chemistry and a master’s degree in finance, and he’s most interested in issues revolving around the STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math.
“Whether it’s our incubator program or a new curriculum designed around a technical topic, those are areas where I like to dig in and I enjoy that aspect,” he said.
Callahan taught classes in college and graduate school, and the experience gave him an understanding of the technical programs and curriculum designed for students.
He said he was proud of the committee and administration’s work over the past two years to bring the curriculum up to date with Common Core national education standards.
“In addition to curriculum updating, we’ve done a lot in career and tech. That’s a big area for us,” he said. “We brought in a new director and our work in that area is significant.”
He also said that opening the new Alternative Learning Academy on the Switch Road campus was a key development.
“Getting those kids out of the trailers and into a building is fiscally sound but also represents that we believe in them, and they’re part of our community,” he said.
Callahan has not been shy about wading into policy discussions. “Policy helps to define parameters for our administrators to lead the teachers and the students. And it frees up teachers to focus on teaching. I enjoy policy and the business aspect of it: the budget and how we’re going to use tax dollars.”
Next term, Callahan would like the committee to look at how the state’s “newer and fewer” policies around closing and consolidating old schools will affect local communities and the district.
“Both in terms of updating the infrastructure that’s in need of it as well as maybe lowering the tax burden,” he said. “I’d like to see if that’s feasible.”