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Will the school takeover help Providence avoid bankruptcy?

The Providence School Department headquarters.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

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Happy Tuesday and welcome to the 100th edition of Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I think this momentous occasion deserves cake. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to

What a difference a few months can make.

When Mayor Jorge Elorza announced in April that he was pulling the plug on his unpopular plan to sell or lease Providence’s water supply, he warned that the city could face bankruptcy by 2030 if it doesn’t address its ever-increasing costs for retirees pensions and health care.


Then the state swooped in and decided it would take over the city’s struggling school system, and any attention Elorza had brought to Providence’s finances quickly shifted to education.

So, is it possible the state takeover may actually boost the city’s shaky financial picture?

Moody’s Investors Service is calling the intervention a “credit positive” for Providence, in part because “the city’s socioeconomic profile will improve” if the schools make gains. Moody’s also noted that state oversight of schools often provides “a stabilizing presence and financial assistance in some cases.”

Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green hasn’t said whether she’ll seek more state or local funding to support Providence schools, which already have a $400 million budget. But Elorza has said he has concerns that an expansion of charter schools could hurt the city’s coffers because the majority of per-pupil state aid follows students no matter where they attend school.

In an e-mail, Sam Zurier, a former Providence city councilor who understands the city budget about as well as anyone, said it’s too soon to say what the takeover will mean for Providence’s finances.


Zurier said state law could force Providence to increase its contribution to the city’s schools, which won’t be easy considering even a maximum property tax increase only generates around $13 million a year. But he also said he’s hopeful the takeover will help Providence “to expend its school budget more efficiently.”

“With that said, I would see the main impact of these hopes resulting in higher quality education for Providence students, rather than fiscal relief for Providence taxpayers,” Zurier said.


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• With the 2020 census getting closer, Ed Fitzpatrick finds one in four Rhode Island residents live in hard-to-count neighborhoods - the highest percentage of any state in New England.

• My latest: New York made its move to hire away Commissioner Infante-Green, but she says she plans to remain in Rhode Island.

Amanda Milkovits reports a former Bristol official accused of sexual misconduct in the 1970s and 1980s was ordered Monday to stay away from an accuser who said he was being harassed for going to the police.

• Former state representative Doreen Costa and Jerry Zarrella have been named the honorary Rhode Island chairs of President Trump’s 2020 campaign.

• The four-month ban on vaping products in Massachusetts can stay in place for now, but a judge said Monday Governor Charlie Baker may have overstepped constitutional bounds when he enacted the policy.



Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at

• The Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System results will be released later this morning. The state is expected to see slight improvements from 2018, but Commissioner Infante-Green has cautioned that the growth is largely tied to students becoming more familiar with the test.

Stephanie Gonzalez is expected to be the next chairperson of the Central Falls School Board of Trustees. The state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education will consider her nomination tonight.

• Providence’s ban on single-use plastic bags takes effect today. Don’t forget to bring your own recyclable bags to the store from now on.

• The Senate Finance Committee will hold another hearing on the proposed 20-year contract extension for lottery giant IGT.

• In a radio interview with WPRO’s Gene Valicenti, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is expected to make his first public comments this morning on the indictment of one of his former campaign aides.

• Enjoying Rhode Map so far? Do us a favor and encourage your friends to sign up here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.


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