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The latest fight over Providence schools

Providence School Department headquarters.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Another year, another Christmas where the Providence Teachers Union and the city’s school department aren’t going to be exchanging gifts.

The dysfunctional relationship between the two groups was on full display once again this weekend when union leadership took to Twitter to announce that the district (and the Rhode Island Department of Education “have made a decision to close a number of Prov Schools.”

This set off a stream of angry tweets from the same handful of people who complain about every decision made regarding Providence schools. But rather than ignoring the echo chamber of social media, the district chose to release its own scathing statement confirming that two schools will be closed as part of a plan to “dramatically increase the number of students and educators in modern facilities.”


“Had they bothered to reach out before tweeting, union leadership would know that the plan to take two run-down facilities offline next year will not result in any teacher layoffs, and will instead result in thousands more Providence Public School educators and students in the modern facilities they deserve,” district spokesman Nick Domings said.

Domings declined to identify the schools that will be closed, but said the district plans to make an announcement this week. In November, voters approved a $125 million bond to make repairs at various schools.

Union President Maribeth Calabro sent an e-mail to her members on Sunday, arguing that the district hasn’t been transparent about its decision to close schools.

”I will be sending the administration an email demanding honesty and transparency going forward with these closures, including but not limited to the rationale for closing each school, what the process will be for displacing teachers, distribution of students and educators throughout the remaining buildings, will any of the closed schools be turned into charter schools (like Fortes), what is the end game for closing the schools,” she wrote.


The latest battle between the union and the district comes as the House Oversight Committee has scheduled a Thursday hearing to discuss Providence schools with Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green.

The Providence School Board also has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday night.

This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, data about the coronavirus in the state, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.

Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.