Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 02-11-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | FEBRUARY 11-17, 2021 LETTERS 7 Maggiacomo: Will committee adhere to 'ostrich syndrome?' It is no secret to parents of spe- cial needs children that for far too long, Scituate schools and Northwest Special Education neglected the needs of special needs children to keep costs down. The children were given what Northwest Director John Magner and Assistant Director Denise Brierley deemed the bare minimum under federal law, while taking lucrative sal- aries themselves (Brierley's yearly sal- ary is approximately $125K, with five weeks paid vacation, and Magner's salary is north of $125K, with compa- rable paid vacation time). When the Democrats took con- trol of the School Committee, there was hope amongst parents that the "I've got mine" mindset of the past committee would be replaced by a majority who truly cared about the education of special needs children. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Example, during the first School Committee meeting under the Democratic majority, an executive session was held to address the edu- cation of two special needs children. The committee accepted evidence from Northwest, as well as the school's attorney, reference the chil- dren's needs, and whether the parents had valid concerns. Guess who was not invited to present evidence? You are right, the parents/parents' repre- sentative. Think about that for a minute! The Democratic-controlled School Committee took evidence from Northwest and the school legal coun- sel, all having a vested monetary interest in giving a presentation which does not shine a light on the possibility of shortcomings in their performance, yet did not invite the parents/representative to present their concerns and opposing views. The committee then made a decision as to whether the children's needs were being met, based solely on a one-sid- ed presentation. Most would agree a decision based on one-sided evidence is uninformed, at the least, and negli- gent, at best. During the most recent School Committee meeting, the Democratic- controlled School Committee invited Northwest to give a presentation on the services they provide. Both Magner and Brierley did a great job of cherry picking graphs, and pre- senting evidence, which benefited themselves, but was contrary to what the parents of special needs children know is actually transpiring. Not a surprise, again, there was no solicita- tion of opposing evidence. During public comment, I expressed concern the presentation was not supported by the evidence. I requested the committee hire Johns Hopkins University, as well as invit- ing the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Education, to conduct an independent analysis of the ser- vices being provided under the direc- tion of Northwest. No member of the committee chose to comment. Will the committee hire Johns Hopkins, and request the Department of Justice conduct an examination, or will the committee adhere to the ostrich syndrome, sticking its head in the ground. If I were a betting man, I would place my money on the ostrich! JOSEPH MAGGIACOMO III, ESQ. Scituate Tikoian: Town should form COVID Economic Recovery Commission As a recently elected Town Council member, my council colleagues and I have worked diligently over the past several months at the municipal level, engaging with business owners, listening to their needs and offering assistance in a variety of ways as they struggle to survive though the pandemic. The town of Smithfield under the auspices of the Town Council, town manager and our grant writer were suc- cessful in obtaining thousands of dollars in grant funds and equipment to aid our local business. Particularly those businesses affected the hardest such as dining establishments, as they adapted to strict COVID protocols, leaving them little choice but to expand their business footprint outdoors and online. We all recognize how substantial the local business community is to our town's viability and the pandemic has made us all realize how vulnerable they are as well, as they fight for survival during COVID-19. As the state of Rhode Island and town of Smithfield hopefully begin to turn the corner in their battle against COVID, government officials must begin to prepare our community for the recovery phase of the pandemic. I recommend to my fellow public officials; the town consider forming a COVID Recovery Commission as part of our economic recovery from the pandemic. It is extremely important we ensure the survival of our local busi- nesses, a commission such as this would be a proactive approach to our town's economic recovery. There is no question that the COVID pandemic has taken a significant toll on our state, town, friends and loved ones. However, I am convinced that Smithfield will bounce back with resil- ience and realize an even more vibrant economy. The overwhelming sense of community displayed throughout the pandemic will endure and further strengthen those bonds in an already strong Smithfield. DAVID P. TIKOIAN Smithfield Town Council Kelley: We need a decisive leader The lieutenant governor seems to favor large committees to advise him about his transition and more importantly, the state's response to the COVID-19 crisis. Large committees provide the politi- cian with cover; however, the larger the committee the less effective they are. We don't need a politician, pan- dering to other politicians and special interest groups. We need a decisive leader, during this time of crisis, to effectively coordinate a mission-orient- ed plan and program that will result in fewer deaths and maximum immuniza- tions. I sincerely hope the Mr. McKee is up to this challenge. Unfortunately, he has not demonstrated dynamic leader- ship thus far. STEPHEN KELLEY Smithfield Library offers Grab and Go Crafts SMITHFIELD – East Smithfield Public Library will offer February vacation Grab and Go Crafts. • Make your own window star: Pick-up: Tuesday, Feb. 16, from 1 to 3 p.m. This craft is for children ages 8 and older. • Make your own play dough: Pick-up: Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 1 to 3 p.m. This craft is best for chil- dren ages 3 and older with an adult. Call the library at 401-231-5150. ~ U P C O M I N G ~ Be sure to look out for this Special Section in Next Week's Editions on February 17 th & 18 th Senior Living

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