PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said the state intervention of city schools should have an expiration date.
Elorza said he isn’t sure yet how far out that end date should be but said, “I think the smartest way to go is to put a certain end date on it where we agree to review and see whether the state intervention should continue.”
Now in his second term, Elorza has gone through two contract negotiations with the teacher’s union. He said his attempts to make sweeping changes to the collective bargaining agreement felt flat.
“What I learned going through that process is that you just can’t do transformational change going through negotiations and through a contract,” Elorza said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “The state laws around arbitration and contract negotiations they are so skewed against the cities that we just can’t do it that way.”
“That’s when the conversations with the state picked up,” he added.
Elorza said he thinks the state has more power to overall labor contracts.
Infante-Green said on Tuesday she doesn’t anticipate tearing up the collective bargaining agreement, but rather “working with the teachers union to figure out what works right for teachers.”
“Any adult conversations that don’t lead to student outcome are problematic for me,” she added. “All our conversations and work have to lead to that.”
Elorza said anyone that was involved in leading the schools owes students and parents an apology.
“I’ve been mayor for four-and-a-half years, and we haven’t been able to get it done,” he said. “I own my part of it.”
Elorza faced criticism for attending a conference in Hawaii just two days after the devastating report by Johns Hopkins University on the schools. He said in hindsight, he probably would have handled that differently.
Steph Machado contributed to this report