Every Providence teacher gets layoff notice in crisis

Associated Press / February 24, 2011

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PROVIDENCE — The financially troubled city issued layoff notices to all its nearly 2,000 teachers because city officials say they must make an unknown number of cuts in the budget and they want “maximum flexibility.’’

State law requires school departments to notify teachers by March 1 if they will be laid off the following school year. The notices issued Tuesday do not mean the teachers will lose their jobs, just that they could at the end of the year.

School Superintendent Tom Brady wrote to teachers Tuesday that the school budget outline for the next academic year is dire, with a projected deficit of nearly $40 million.

Steve Smith, president of the Providence Teachers Union, told The Providence Journal that the decision was “beyond insane’’ and creates chaos and anxiety among teachers.

Providence’s financial problems have caused enough alarm at the state level that Governor Lincoln Chafee has instructed two of his top fiscal officers to meet with city officials. A recent audit showed that Providence had nearly depleted its rainy-day fund and overspent its budget last year by more than $57 million. This year’s budget gap is expected to be even larger.

Mayor Angel Taveras created a Municipal Finances Review Panel last month to study the city budget across all departments.