PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Many of the Providence teachers will be rehired for next school year. However, unlike previous years, the process won't be based on seniority, the city's new mayor said.
In a stunning move, the Providence School Committee voted Thursday night to fire the district's 1,926 teachers, backing a decision announced earlier in the week by Superintendent Tom Brady and Mayor Angel Taveras.
When asked Friday morning about the four-to-three vote, Taveras said the move was necessary as the city and school district look to close a multi-million dollar budget gap.
"What we tried to do was create the maximum amount of flexibility, so we could make informed decisions and do it right," Taveras said. "We have to balance our budget. We have to educate our kids. We're going to do both."
It's not unusual each spring for a number of teachers to receive layoff notices, only to be recalled a few months later once the budget is set.
This difference this time is all of the teachers have been fired, not laid off. With layoffs, teachers are asked back based on seniority. However with terminations, the school district has more power to decide who will stay and who will go.
"A majority, an overwhelming majority will be rehired. We will have fewer teachers next year, and fewer schools," said Mayor Tavares.
While Taveras said a big majority of the teachers will be rehired, he did say the process will not be based on seniority.
"The old system allows for teachers who aren't exactly teaching," Taveras said, making it clear there will be fewer teachers and fewer schools next school year.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee's office was keeping its distance from the controversy.
"The Governor is confident that Mayor Taveras and his administration can work effectively with the Providence Teachers Union and its president, Steven Smith, to address the teachers' concerns within the context of the city's fiscal challenges," the governor's office said in a statement released Friday morning.
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