Waddington and Oldham School Reorganization Approved
The East Providence School Committee voted 4-1 to approve a plan recommended by school superintendent Kathryn Crowley to reorganize the two remaining elementary schools in Riverside. Ward 4 school committee member Jessica Beauchaine was the lone dissenter to the plan. Members Chairman Charles Tsonos, Joel Monteiro, Karen Oliveira and Anthony Ferreira voted to approve the plan. Beauchaine represents the Riverside area.
Both school buildings will remain open but with a different program configuration. "The benefits of this reorganization are many," Superintendent Crowley described to committee members and parents and staff in attendance at the March 19th public meeting. Using a power point presentation, Crowley explained that "Currently Oldham cannot departmentalize and Waddington has to split 3 ways instead of 2. Many RI Department of Education initiatives require a minimum of 2 classes (i.e. Boston Kindergarten). There will be teacher collaboration across grade level," Crowley and administrators said.
"We can now establish 3 new Pre-K classes – additional 60 students – as we currently have 23 children on a waiting list. All Grade K-5 Teachers will have a Common Prep period. Itinerants will continue to have weekly Common Planning time with other itinerants in the district," Crowley added. The district will receive more grant funding with this move and can now add up to three additional Pre-K classes.
Crowley went on to discuss logistics such as student drop-off, parking, lunch schedules, etc. Seeking to allay the concerns of many Waddington parents, school administrators stressed that Waddington parking and lunch needs will not be a problem with the new reorganization. "Seven parking spots will be gained with staff movement and three lunch periods can handle a capacity of 663 students, easily handling the 559 Waddington students," explained administrators. It was stated that the 3,320 square foot gymnasium can accommodate 474 people for school functions.
Although school committee member Jessica Beauchaine voted against the proposal, she did praise some aspects of the plan and thanked the Superintendent for eventually getting information out to parents. "As a parent of an elementary student, elected official and PTA member for the last 12 years, I ask that you put your trust in me to ask the difficult questions and to provide you with all pertinent information. The process was flawed. This is not the way it should have been handled or presented to parents. Yes, we are angry, but that is in the past and we need to move on from it," Beauchaine wrote in a social media post. "Educationally it is the right decision for teachers and students. However, we are entitled to know the details," Beauchaine added.
Rep. Gregg Amore Legislation on Opioid Crisis
The R.I. House of Representatives issued a March 21, 2019 press release announcing legislation filed by Rep. Gregg Amore’s (D-Dist. 65, East Providence). "This legislation (2019-H 5434) that would exclude chronic intractable pain from the definition of “acute pain management” for the purposes of prescribing opioid medication was heard by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee.
“We want to make sure that our public policy in regard to addressing the opioid crisis does not have the unintended consequence of hurting patients who are trying to manage chronic pain. These patients are not addicts, they are suffering with pain associated with cancer, palliative care, and in many cases, chronic intractable pain. We need to let physicians determine how best to manage their patients’ pain,” said Representative Amore.
Chronic intractable pain is defined as pain that is excruciating, constant, incurable, and of such severity that it dominates virtually every conscious moment. It also produces mental and physical debilitation and may produce a desire to commit suicide for the sole purpose of stopping the pain."
The bill calls for new guidelines for the treatment of chronic intractable pain be based upon the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. Specifically, the legislation calls for the consideration of individualized needs of patients suffering from chronic intractable pain. The bill was held for further study by the committee.
City Council March Meeting Action
The city council approved a few changes in its operation at the March 19th meeting as proposed by council President Robert Britto. "It's time to move this issue into action and get it off the docket," said Britto. Some of the changes reflect the new form of government which now features a strong Mayor elected by the public instead of a City Manager, potentially controlled by three votes of a City Council. There is also a section now for "Mayor's Communications," in which the Mayor can communicate and request action with the council. The public meeting time is now 7 PM with executive session, if needed, scheduled for 6:30 PM. Other changes reflect how items are scheduled for council discussion.
The council also approved a zoning variance for the building at 130 Taunton Avenue now being renovated as the "Lofts on Taunton." Second floor residences will be built with balconies which will extend 30 inches over the sidewalk but will be high so as not to infringe on the sidewalk itself.
Skate/Bike Park Named in Honor of "K-Rob"
The council unanimously approved the naming of the public skate park at Onna Moniz-John Neighborhood Park at Central Avenue Playground for its benefactor, Kevin Robinson, known to thousands as K-Rob. The resolution stated in part, "Kevin "K-Rob" Robinson, through his non-profit K-Rob Foundation, realized his dream of building East Providence's first free, outdoor public skate park in 2016. Be it further resolved that the City Council of the City of East Providence, in collaboration with the City of East Providence Winter-fest Committee, hereby names the public skate park at Onna Moniz-John Park as the "Kevin Robinson Memorial Skate Park..." Robinson, is the holder of 10 X Games medals including four Gold and two Guinness World Records. The resolution, sponsored by at-large councilman Bob Rodericks, was co-sponsored by the rest of the council and was in conjunction with the city Winterfest committee. "The Winterfest committee will provide and pay for the plaque to be placed at the site," said committee organizer, Bruce Rogers.
Police Continue Vigilance in City Patrols
According to a statement by the East Providence Police, "during the early morning hours of March 15th, Officer Ryan Cute conducted a motor vehicle stop due to a moving violation in the vicinity of Evergreen Apartments. Subsequent probable cause existed to search the motor vehicle. As a result of the search, Officer Cute located a fully loaded 9MM handgun under the passenger seat, a black ski mask, a digital scale, suspected marijuana and an open container of alcohol. The operator of the vehicle, 24 year old Justin Smith of Providence, was arrested and charged with the following: license or permit required for carrying a gun, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana and alcoholic beverages while operating a motor vehicle..."
Councilman Keeps Focus on Pierce Stadium Needs
"During my recent campaign for office, I heard from many residents about the conditions at the Pierce Field Complex. I was particularly concerned about the obvious neglect that has taken place through the years, causing our once beautiful recreational complex to deteriorate. I know that many in our city share my concern that Pierce Field is a recreational jewel," said at-large councilman Bob Rodericks.
"After visiting the complex many times and speaking with various persons with close knowledge of the situation, it seems evident that although some much needed improvements have recently been made, much more needs to be done," added Rodericks.
Rodericks cited recent vandalism and lack of security and technology "which has been approved but not yet installed." This is not a frivolous concern but a hope that we don't let our once beautiful stadium fall into dis-repair," he added.
"I can totally agree that this is not frivolous," said Ward 3 councilman Nate Cahoon. "I've spent much of my life at that field and recently witnessed needless vandalism in the concession stand. I agree that we must get on top of this," added Cahoon.
Council President Robert Britto urged Rodericks to keep the issue on future council agendas. "It can be the only way to solve a problem like this," said Britto.
Schools Leader Issues Social Media Caution Letter to City Parents
Dear Families of East Providence,
As you may have heard on the news or social media, there are some new videos involving scary content that are appearing on the web. The "Mamo" character is alleged to provide harmful instructions to its victims, ranging from vandalism to suicide. The "Mamo Challenge" is a viral scare story that aims to cause panic and harm among members of the public.
East Providence School Department utilizes multiple internet filtering solutions to help prevent students from accessing content that is not age appropriate. Some recently posted videos have circumvented all filtering (including Google/YouTube's content protection) and made it into videos intended for children. The District is actively working to identify and block these videos from being accessed within the School Department.
It is important to understand that these challenges are across multiple social platforms to include Whatsapp, Minecraft, Reddit, SMS/MMS Messaging, etc. Most of these applications are not allowed on the school computers but are accessible from a student's personal devices (mobile phones and at home). Please take care to educate your children about these threats as they can appear in all sorts on online content, apps and games they play.
Kathryn M. Crowley Superintendent of Schools
EP Police Sergeant Diogo Mello "Runs" in Abu Dhabi
The East Providence Police social media site issued a statement describing the effort of Sergeant Diogo Mello who was selected to run in the 2019 Special Olympic World Games. "As many of you know, Sgt. Mello is one of 96 police officers from around the world selected to carry the "Flame of Hope" as part of the final leg torch run for the 2019 Special Olympic World Games! Sgt. Mello landed in Abu Dhabi and reports a busy schedule with lots of running with the flame and spreading the message of inclusion throughout the United Arab Emirates.
Sgt. Mello and his fellow officers have enjoyed a magnificent level of support from the local citizens, various local police agencies and dignitaries. Sgt. Diogo Mello is part of Team #5 (also known as the Fab 5). Team 5 consists of 1 Special Olympics athlete and 9 law enforcement officers from agencies in Georgia, Nebraska, Illinois, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Ireland, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.
In his own social media posting, Sgt. Diogo wrote; "I want to thank my family and friends for your continued support of Special Olympics. The Final Leg journey was an unrivaled experience and I had a distinct opportunity to visit a beautiful part of the world with an amazing group of people. By far my favorite and most rewarding time was the time spent with the athletes. Their smiles, dedication, laughter and joy was contagious..."
Changes to EPHS Hall of Fame
Some changes are coming to the East Providence High School Hall of Fame (HOF). Committee chairman Bob Rodericks announced that the committee has voted to induct new members every two years instead of every year as has been done since 1984. "The committee is trying to encourage more nominations from the general public and increase the pool of candidates. Trying to maintain the HOF on an annual basis is very difficult," said Rodericks. "The annual dinner is in mid-October and after a brief holiday break, the committee was charged with selecting new HOF inductees by May or June at the latest. We need more time to recruit, deliberate and plan for a ceremony. The committee is all volunteer and self supporting. We receive no funding from any group, city department or other source. Our only income is from dinner proceeds. This provides for wall plaques, postage and other supplies." The next EPHS HOF induction will be in October of 2020. The committee will begin reviewing applications for induction this month. Nominations can be submitted by anyone and the form can be picked up at the high school main office or by emailing either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. General questions can be submitted to email@example.com.
EPHS Presents - Jesus Christ Superstar! April 4th, 5th and 6th
The East Providence High School Musical Theater Group Presents, Jesus Christ Superstar! Performances are on April 4th, 5th and 6th at 7pm at East Providence High School in the Arthur Elmasian Auditorium. Advance tickets: students - $8 adults - $16. Tickets purchased at the door will be $20.
Home Repair Help from City
The City of East Providence Community Development Division has grant and loan funds for home owners and landlords to make general repairs, update old and inefficient heating equipment, replace old windows and siding. It can also address lead paint hazards that may harm children under the age of 6. If your home is in need of expensive repairs and updates that you cannot afford, this is an option for you. For further info. please contact David Bachrach at 401-435-7536 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
City Roadway Repairs
Stephen H. Coutu, Director of Public Works for the City of East Providence, announced that the City is compiling a 3-Year Roadway Work Plan. "This project will greatly improve the condition of the City’s roadway network. Overall, approximately 25 miles of roadway on about 120 streets will be improved under our repaving contract. We are working closely with National Grid to coordinate the City’s roadway improvements with their gas line improvement plan. Due to the age and condition of the gas mains, it is important for Grid to upgrade these lines prior to the road work which could lead to an increase in gas leaks due to the disruptive nature of the road work and the heavy machinery involved. Additionally, we do not want to have Grid cut up a newly paved roadway for an emergency repair," said Coutu.
Rabies Clinic- Dogs and Cats - April 14th
There will be a Rabies Clinic for dogs and cats 3 months and older, which may need to be vaccinated. Dogs must be leashed and attended by an adult. Cats must be covered and carried. Cost - $10 cash only. Licensing also available as dog licenses are due annually. Licensing fee is $13 w/ proof of spay/neutering (senior/disabled citizens pay $5). Non spayed/neutered fee is $33 (senior/disabled citizens pay $15). The clinic will be held on Sunday, April 14, 2019 from 10am to 12 noon. The clinic is at Breed Hall at 610 Waterman Avenue (Senior center site).