2017-11-02 / Opinion


Resisting Change Doesn't Have Education at Heart

To the Editor:

Discussions are underway regarding financing the renovation/ construction of school buildings across the state. Certainly emergency measures related to health issues demand immediate attention. However, in attempting to solve immediate problems, the state must not lose sight of the big picture, the quality of education, something seriously affected by decreasing enrollments within existing facilities.

Unfortunately, the focus on renovation/construction can be misplaced when education itself should be the primary concern.

In short, this letter advocates for the restoration of financial incentives for school district regionalization, a giant step to comprehensively address both education and the economy in Newport County.

Prior to the ballot question on school regionalization in 2012, which was approved by Newport voters but defeated by Middletown voters, local districts explored the potential educational and financial benefits. There is reason to believe that the measure would have been approved by Middletown voters if the financial incentives had not been discontinued.

Meanwhile, the financial costs of education have substantially increased, and the educational opportunities for students have continued to decrease in contrast with the historical record when the enrollments of the individual districts supported broader and deeper options for all the students.

Simply, current enrollments of 600-650 at local high schools do not allow the same opportunities as enrollments of 1,250, but the combination of the two could restore an educational program that would benefit not only the academically oriented student, who gets the most attention now, but also the hands-on student who needs exposure to possibilities in the service industries, an area where all will suffer as the current crop of tradesmen nears retirement.

Who will fix cars, build and wire houses, install plumbing, repair pipes, and do all the other necessary jobs that students are no longer being prepared to do well? The basic hands-on experiences that students need to interest them in the trades or to encourage decisions to attend career and technical schools are no longer offered to them. Consequently, even many of the programs at the Newport Area Career and Technical School have been eliminated for lack of interest.

Enrollment is the problem, and regionalization is the answer although common sense and logic are not enough when people resist change. If Rhode Island truly wants to promote job preparation for workers across the entire economy, it must do more than ask for funds to fix buildings. Education is much more than buildings.

The state must restore financial incentives leading to the lower costs of regionalization, something validated in the recent analysis of the Newport County Regional Special Education Program showing cost savings for shared services.

Taxpayers are weary of expensive fixes that have no bearing on the educational results.

Barbara A. VonVillas, Ph.D.
Middletown Councilor

Bolder Coyotes

To the Editor:

In reading the article “Bolder Coyotes” in the Oct. 26 edition of Newport This Week, I am thinking that it has all been said before, because it has. Every two years I write the same letter. The coyote feeders are rare and the Newport garbage containers are sturdy. This situation in this urban environment is not tolerable.

The coyote huggers want you to believe that it is the people's fault. It is not. Cats are disappearing left and right and now 60-70 pound dogs are under assault. Next it will be children and then grownups. Newport City Council, get with it or you will be sued. Get DEM in action and make it safe for us to go out at night. My buddy has a 70 plus pound shepherd and will not let him off the leash.

Don’t let the pack get you. Get with it.

Bill Falcone

Holiday Season Approaching

To the Editor:

Greetings, with the holiday season approaching once again, the Newport Police Department Lodge #8 is in the process of seeking donations from area businesses and individuals for our 61st annual Christmas food basket drive.

With your help, the Newport Police Department in years past has been able to deliver between 50 and 100 food baskets a year to Newport families in need, and we can already see the need for more this year. Please help us in serving these families by supplying the fixings for a holiday dinner. We are also collecting toys and gift cards for families with young children and trying to do our part to make their holidays a little brighter.

Please send your donations to FOP Lodge #8 Christmas Basket Fund, c/o Newport Police Department, 120 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840. Gift cards and toys can be dropped off to the records office, attention Gwen. Any donation no matter how large or small will be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks and wishing you and your families a healthy, happy holiday season.

Sgt. Jason Brown
President, FOP Lodge #8

Talking Buses Too Obtrusive

To the Editor:

I was happy to read about the completion of the Gateway Center remodel. It looks beautiful and I love the “green” elements. They are aesthetically pleasing as well as helpful to our occasional flooding situation here on the Point.

Now, I would like to beg the RIPTA to do something about the loud and very annoying announcements from each and every bus arriving at or leaving the facility, notifying pedestrians that the "the bus is turning." It is driving the residents living across from the Gateway on Bridge Street and beyond bonkers! One is even likely to hear it three (or more) times in rapid succession as it turns onto Bolhouse, then goes around the bend, and then turns into the parking lot. Isn't there anything less obtrusive that can be done to make pedestrians look up from their cell phones? I am hopeful that those who designed the new Gateway Center can turn their attention and creativity to relieving the misery of those Rhode Islanders living along a RIPTA bus route.

Ann McMahon

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