PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - The Providence School Committee voted four to three Thursday night to send termination letters to all 1,926 teachers in the school district; however this move does not mean that all teachers will be out of a job.
Earlier in the day, frustrated teachers spoke out following a meeting with Superintendent Tom Brady, over the district's decision to issue termination notices to every teacher in Providence.
Hundreds of teachers attended the meeting, which lasted nearly two hours, with questions about their dismissal notices. Most of the teachers said their questions are still unanswered, and many left feeling even more uncertain about their future in the Providence School Department.
Every teacher in Providence, roughly 2,000, received dismissal notices Tuesday. The mayor said the school department had to notify teachers by March 1 and decided to send notices to everyone in order to have the most flexibility moving forward.
The President of the Teachers' Union said this all came as a surprise and teachers feel their bargaining power has been taken away.
"This sounds very much like what's going on in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana where lawmakers want to get rid of collective bargaining and remove the voice of the workers. By firing all the teachers, the mayor is not solving an educational problem or a fiscal problem. He is making a political decision to take control and silence workers," said Steve Smith.
There are also rumblings that roughly six lower performing schools could close as part of the city's effort to close the school department's $40 million budget deficit.
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers issued a statement saying in part:
"Providence city officials' sudden announcement firing every single Providence teacher—close to 2,000 people—without apparent regard to its effect or even consideration of the teachers' performance, is shocking. What makes this even more stunning is that the district and the Providence Teachers Union have been working collaboratively on a groundbreaking, nationally recognized school transformation model."
"A mass firing, announced in the middle of a school year, does not help solve a budget problem—the purported reason—but, rather, disrupts the education of all students and the entire community. The mayor claims he needs flexibility. We looked up "flexibility" in the dictionary, and it does not mean destabilizing education for all students in Providence or taking away workers' voice or rights."
Providence mayor and gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras was in Puerto Rico for a campaign fundraiser Thursday, the same day he was supposed to attend a meeting of mayors to discuss education in Sacramento, Calif.
The 2013 Rhode Island Toys for Tots campaign is underway, as representatives from Cardi's Furniture picked up toys on Thursday collected around the state.
The group that represents the majority of the city's strip clubs wants to meet with mayor.
A Massachusetts resident and member of the U.S. Marine Corps was killed in combat on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Dept. of Defense.
John F. Deering Middle School is in the running for grant money that would help it beef up security.