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Randi Weingarten heads to Woonsocket

March 22, 2012

Woonsocket teachers are getting some star power from the American Federation of Teachers. Union President Randi Weingarten plans to visit Woonsocket High School today to weigh in on mass teacher layoff notices.

The district sent pink slips to its entire teaching force because of a $10 million deficit. City officials are also considering a 13 percent supplemental tax levy and a temporary 10 percent pay cut for teachers and city workers.

Randi Weingarten has visited Rhode Island several times in recent years. She came to Central Falls when a state-ordered school turnaround effort led to mass teacher firings at Central Falls High School. She also headlined a rally in Providence after a budget crunch led to more mass firings.

Providence later rehired all of its teachers, but the district also shut down several schools and offered buy-outs to senior teachers to reduce school spending.

In Woonsocket, Mayor Leo Fontaine has approached teachers about a 10 percent pay cut effective through the end of the school year. Woonsocket Teacher’s Guild President Jeffrey Partington says it will not be easy to convince members to take another hit to their paychecks. You can hear my full interview with him here.

Woonsocket’s city council put off a vote last night on a supplemental tax increase that would raise money to help keep schools open at least until June. The city council says it will vote on April 2nd, after giving residents a chance to weigh in at a public hearing.

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