"This is beyond insane," Smith said, according to The Providence Journal. "Let's create the most chaos and the highest level of anxiety in a district where teachers are already under unbelievable stress. Now I know how the United States State Department felt on Dec. 7 , 1941."
On Tuesday, Providence Schools Superintendent Tom Brady sent a letter to the district's teachers informing them that the school board would vote Thursday to dismiss every teacher, effective on the last day of the school year.
But Providence Mayor Angel Taveras' office says the notices were issued to comply with a legally mandated March 1 deadline for notifying teachers of changes to their employment. Because the deadline is one month before the city's budget is due, the move gives the district the flexibility to cut as many teachers as necessary. The entire teaching force will not actually be laid off, according to Brady's letter.
"March 1 is too early in the budget-planning process," Melissa Withers, Taveras' director of communications, told AOL News. "At this point in our planning we don't know what these cuts will mean for schools and teachers."
Like many cities and states across the country, Providence is dealing with a dire fiscal situation, including a projected $40 million deficit for the school district alone. Last year the city had a $57 million gap and laid off 100 teachers. The city's deficit this year is expected to be worse, according to The Providence Journal.
Taveras' office says the mayor is waiting for the results of an independent panel commissioned to review the city's finances before moving forward with budget decisions.
The drama of wholesale teacher firings is not entirely new to the state. Last February, Rhode Island's Central Falls School District announced that it was firing all 93 teachers and administrators at the underperforming Central Falls High School at the end of the school year as part of a school turnaround plan. In May, after months of negotiations, the entire staff was rehired.
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