PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence Public School District reached a one-year contract agreement with the Providence Teachers Union on Thursday.
The agreement includes extending the school day by 30 minutes in an effort to recover from learning loss due to the pandemic.
R.I. Department of Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said this will affect schools for the upcoming academic year.
According to the agreement, elementary school students will receive 6 hours and 45 minutes of daily instruction, while middle and high school students will have 7 hours and 15 minutes each day.
“Because we are trying to recuperate that time and we’re trying to get into a place where our kids have that opportunity,” Infante-Green said. “Thirty minutes is a big impact. Anything less than that we wouldn’t really see the impact of that.”
According to Infante-Green, the daily extra 30 minutes will equal to 15 school days.
“Like so many communities across the nation, the pandemic had a deep impact on Providence, and we know that our students need to be engaged in meaningful, high-quality learning experiences to not just recover but get ahead,” Superintendent Javier Montañez said.
Infante-Green said Providence is the first district in the state to use COVID relief funds to extend school days. According to PPSD, $24.9 million is the projected fiscal impact of the extended time.
“This major investment in extending learning time and connecting educators to critical resources and training prioritizes the best interests of all our stakeholders and will help improve academic outcomes,” she said.
The deal also includes additional professional development for teachers.
Another change in the contract includes a cost-of-living wage increase of 2.5% at the start of the contract year, followed by an additional 0.75% increase at the end of the year.
The Providence Teachers Union told 12 News Friday RIDE and the district asked them to agree to an extended school back. Members of the union disagreed with the extra 30 minutes, according to President Maribeth Calabro.
“We heard this past week from many teachers who said ‘I just can’t do another 30 minutes,” Calabro said. “That’s understandable. But I think we are in a position now to do this for this year and hopefully get a lot of bang for that buck.”
12 News requested a copy of the ratified tentative agreement. PPSD and the union said it’s not immediately available.