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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Economy

Molly Line

Boston, MA

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Providence Plans to Pink Slip All Teachers

February 24, 2011 - 5:19 PM | by: Molly Line

In an unprecedented move to reduce spending and reign in a massive $40
million dollar budget shortfall school district leaders in Providence,
Rhode Island plan to send dismissal notices to every teacher in the
district by March 1st, meeting a legal deadline to warn teachers of
changes to their employment status.

Providence Superintendent Tom Brady sent letters to the district’s nearly 2,000 teachers
citing a ‘dire budget’ and warning them of the mass dismissals. A school board meeting
is slated for Thursday night to allow teachers and the public to speak out regarding the plan.

Many teachers say they’re confused by the district’s plan.

Librarian Jonathan Ryder says he doesn’t understand the sweeping move to
dismiss all educators, regardless of need or experience.

“I understand that when you’re dealing with situations like this you will lay off a bunch of teachers.
I understand that. That’s entirely reasonable,” said Ryder. “I’m just a little confused why they would
lay off everyone because that seems to me to be a little too broad a stroke.”

Teacher Anne Mrozowski says she has lived in Providence for 25 years. Her kids attended city schools.

“My commitment is to my students and my parents and my school. I’m hoping that is also the
district’s commitment, that firing all the teachers was really necessary and not just a political
maneuver because it’s so destabilizing.”

According to Christina O’Reilly from the Media Relations Office of the
Providence Public School Department, the letters sent to teachers thus
far are called “pre-deprivation letters.” They act as preliminary
notice that the School Board is considering the dismissal of all
teachers.

If the dismissal notices become official they will be effective as of the
school year end but it is very likely the majority will be
‘rescinded’ before that date allowing most teachers to keep their
jobs. The move will give the school district more flexibility to
reduce staff as leaders struggle to save money.

Similar actions have been taken in years past but not to this extent
and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras stands by the plan, publishing a
letter on the city’s website that reads in part:

“Providence faces significant challenges in getting its financial
house in order. Spending reductions are inevitable. It is also
inevitable that some portion of cuts will come from the school budget.
This is why we faced the difficult decision of sending letters to all
teachers: we do not yet know what actions will be required and believe
it was only fair to let all teachers know about the severity of the
situation.”

The letter also laments the March 1st deadline that requires teachers
be informed of potential changes to employment arguing the date should
be later in July when the city’s budgeting process is complete.