Speaker Shekarchi and Senate President Ruggerio
announce Vision Services Task Force
STATE HOUSE – Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio have announced the formation of the House and Senate Vision Services Task Force, which will be charged with providing recommendations for the long-term viability of the vision services program currently housed at the Sherlock Center.
“When issues with the Rhode Island Vision Education Services Program’s funding and future programming were raised earlier this year, many of us in government worked collaboratively to find a resolution; however, at that time we noted that it was a temporary solution,” said Speaker Shekarchi. “We knew a permanent fix was necessary so that we aren’t back at the table having these same conversations again in a year or two. The members of this task force all share a very strong commitment to ensuring the vision services program at the Sherlock Center’s success. I am confident that their dedication to advocating for and serving these students will result in a course of action that benefits the students, their families and the faculty.”
In an announcement in May, Speaker Shekarchi and Senate President Ruggerio committed to maintaining the program’s funding in the state budget for the next two next years. Working with Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Angélica Infante-Green, it was announced that the Master Price Agreement (MPA) for services for blind and visually impaired students would be awarded for the next two years to the Sherlock Center program, whose students were able to continue their services uninterrupted.
President Ruggerio said, “The relationships built between teachers and students at the Sherlock Center over the course of many years of working together are instrumental in the students’ success. I am very grateful to my Senate colleagues who have made this issue a priority and are serving on this task force. They are committed to finding a long-term, sustainable solution that ensures the best educational services for visually impaired students.”
Additionally, in May, Speaker Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) and President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence) also pledged to form the working group to develop a long-term strategy and plan for the state’s services for blind and visually impaired students.
The Rhode Island Vision Education Services Program (RIVESP) is housed at the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College. RIVESP specialists work with blind and visually impaired students in more than 26 school districts across the state.
The members of the House and Senate Vision Services Task Force are Representatives Julie Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter), Raymond Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence), Thomas Noret (D-Dist. 25, West Warwick) and William O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence); and Senators Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket), Frank A. Ciccone, III (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence), Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) and Frank Lombardo, III (D-Dist. 25, Johnston).