Sunday, February 27, 2011

Notes from Providence Parent Advisory Council Meeting with Superintendent Brady, 2/24/11

On February 24, 2011, Providence Public Schools Superintendent Tom Brady and Chief Communications Officer Kim Rose and Director of Family and Community Engagement Janet Pichardo met with Parents Advisory Council (PAC) representatives Robin Adams, Dawn Clifton, Michelle McKenzie, Carmel McGill, and Jill Davidson to discuss the district’s proposal, which has since been confirmed by School Board vote on the evening of February 24, to dismiss all Providence Public School teachers. These notes were compiled by PAC members in attendance and are being circulated to parents to help share information about the developing situation.

These points paraphrase Superintendent Brady’s remarks; they are not interpretations or opinions of PAC members in attendance.
  • The results emerging from the Mayor’s blue ribbon task force on Providence finances indicate a dire financial situation; $40 million budget deficit for PPSD. Personnel costs are 85% of the school district budget so there must be cuts to reduce expenses. This is an unprecedented situation.
  •  Teachers need notice by 3/1 but there’s no final budget at this time. Noticing all teachers seems fairer than guessing at what the needs and resources might be. Within 60 days, the district will rescind the dismissal letter for most of the 1,935 teachers (this is the number that Superintendent Brady specified during the meeting; media reports have placed the number of Providence teachers at 1,926).
  • All staff positions will be affected by this, not just teachers. Notice to teachers came first because of March 1 deadline. Other budget considerations come next: staff entitlements such as co-pays, stipends, furlough days, etc.; financial district’s long term debt; school closings; class size, efficiencies, e.g. transportation. PPSD is already doing much of this. 
  • Clarity that this is a dismissal letter, not a layoff letter. Layoff letters issued to hundreds of teachers in the past came with a built- in legal requirement that those teachers would be brought back at some point. That is not the case with dismissal letters. However, dismissed teachers can compete for open positions through criterion based hiring. School closures and program changes in schools remaining open will affect how many teachers will come back.
  • Re school closings: under normal circumstances, there is a requirement to have community meetings, 6-8 month process. In this case, a shorter timeline is required since the changes are targeted for September. PPSD has a desire to have meetings and open hearings within this shorter timeframe. Persistently low achieving schools will be addressed first; these positions will be posted.   
  • In response to questions about how families will make decisions about which kindergarten to choose given the uncertainty about which schools will be open, Brady acknowledged challenging circumstances for parent choice of schools in terms of elementary registration as well as middle and high school assignments. PPSD will work with families who have chosen schools that will be closed on a case-by-case basis to reassign to other schools.
  • In response to questions about how teachers are being informed, we were informed there was a meeting with principals yesterday (Wednesday, 2/23/11), and will be a meeting with teachers this afternoon (Thursday, 2/24/11).
  • Refer to Mayor Taveras’ statement: ( and PPSD statement that they’re working on—Kim Rose will send out (as of Sunday, February 27, PAC members have not yet received this statement from PPSD).

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