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Providence school closure savings fall short

March 7, 2011

As city officials prepare to release a list of four to six schools for possible closure this year, it appears that two closures from last year are generating relatively little savings.

Providence school officials voted to close Feinstein High School and Perry Middle school last year in a move aimed at saving nearly $20 million over five years. Many community advocates argued passionately against the closures, saying the empty buildings would result in neighborhood blight.

So far, Mayor Angel Taveras says the city has realized just $300,000 in actual savings from shuttering the two facilities. According to the Mayor’s office, the 76 teachers who worked at the schools remain on the city payroll. Most are teaching in other schools, but a few are being paid full time to sit in the substitute pool.

Taveras says this example illustrates why he had to terminate, rather than layoff, the entire city teaching staff. With layoffs, Taveras contends, the city would have to keep teachers from closed schools in the substitute pool, where they would receive their regular pay rate and benefits thereby generating relatively little savings for the city.

Providence Teachers’ Union leaders dispute this claim, saying if staffing is done properly, full-time teachers do not end up in the substitute pool. Part of the estimated savings from the school closures was related to building maintenance and upgrade costs that were avoided by shuttering the facilities. Providence city officials were unsure at the end of last week as to whether the $20 million savings would be achieved within five years.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2011 5:34 pm

    A few people also pointed out that Feinstein High School was the highest performing neighborhood high school in Providence, had exceeded the state average in reading and completely closed the acheivement gaps in writing, had the best rates of college enrollment and retention of any PPSD neighborhood high school, and that virtually all the students from FHS would be sent to lower-performing schools according to the most recent NECAP scores.

    All those things are true.

    The district made no organized attempt to put high performing teachers from the closed schools into jobs in the PPSD, and several excellent teachers were left in the sub pool at the beginning of the year. Criterion based hiring leaves hiring decisions at the school level, leaving the overall personnel policy inconsistent and wasteful.

  2. March 7, 2011 6:18 pm

    Also does “sit in the sub pool” mean “not actually working as subs every day?” That’s pretty important. Taveras is acting like if they literally had more subs than they needed they couldn’t *really* lay them off, but the union disputes that, correct?

    • March 7, 2011 6:21 pm

      From what I understand, most of the teachers in the sub pool are working on a regular basis. However, those who are receiving full-time pay and benefits are getting paid at a higher rate than other substitutes.


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