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Critics Raise Questions Over Proposed Statewide Teacher Contract

Friday, November 13, 2015

 

Critics of a potential statewide teacher contract are warning of implications should the state move away from district level negotiations, as a Senate committee is currently considering its potential and is expected to report on its findings in January.

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed sponsored the resolution to establish the commission at the end of the last General Assembly session, which is currently awaiting findings from a Boston-based consultant expected early in December. 

“The Center believes there can be a state role in saving money for local school districts. Negotiating and offering a large group health insurance option, that local districts can choose to participate in or not - as opposed to a mandate that would surely be part of any statewide contract - is one such concept,” said Mike Stenhouse with the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. “Consolidating control over another large piece of our education and taking it away from taxpayers and local officials, however, we think that's dangerous.   We saw it with RhodeMap RI, and the fire unions, now we're talking about teachers -- it would tie the hands of municipalities through mandates.”

Larry Purtill with the state’s largest teacher union, NEARI, acknowledged that the talks are still in the nascent stage, but that there were a number of issues he believed should be addressed on a statewide basis. 

Senate President Paiva Weed

“There are a lot of unanswered questions before anything could happen, so it certainly wouldn’t happen this year,” said Purtill. “I think there has been a lot of interest in the discussion, including NEARI, on how to make starting salaries competitive and some uniformity across the state so districts aren’t competing for teachers based on salary and benefits. State wide health care plan may be the logical place to start; keeping good quality health care benefits while lowering, or at least controlling the costs.  This discussion should also lead to how we attract people to the profession, including more minority teachers and those who want to teach in urban areas.”


Last Consideration Under Carcieri


The state had last considered the possibility of consolidating teacher healthcare costs under the Governor Donald Carcieri.

“Healthcare does seem to be an area that makes sense to look at,” said Tim Duffy, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Association.  “[Governor] Carcieri proposed bringing the teachers into the state healthcare system -- at the time, most of the local school districts had slightly better plans than the state, so they were resistant.  By the time Chafee came into office, there was no longer any movement to pursue this.”

Duffy — and others — noted that they saw the Obamacare “Cadillac” tax as being a reason to look at the costs now.

In addition to Paiva Weed’s support of looking into the issue, Moderate Party gubernatorial candidate Robert Healey had suggested a statewide contract as part of his platform.

“The rationale behind this is that local school boards are usually the first step on a political ladder. Many who run for office are of the ilk that are former school teachers or their relatives and those who are sincerely dedicated to the best interests of the students,” said Healey during the campaign. “The unions, when negotiating contracts, send in negotiators. These negotiators, having negotiated several contracts across the state, are no match for the lambs sitting on the school board. While school board members are nice people, they are no match for skilled negotiators. School boards members, for the most part, will probably negotiate a multi-million dollar contract once in their life. Union negotiators do several each year.”

Ken Block, GOP candidate for Governor

Moderate Party founder — and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block — cautioned on the implications of a statewide contract.

“For starters, it is disconcerting that towns would lose local control of key educational issues.  If the end result of a statewide teacher’s contract is a lessening of quality in certain school districts, then that would be a disaster,” said Block. “Additionally, it would only make sense to consider a statewide contract if several bad elements of current contracts get fixed in the master contract.  For example, the school fiscal year should match up with the municipal year – and in most communities they do not.

“A statewide teacher’s contract should be simple and narrow,” said Block. “It should deal with issues of compensation only – and re-empower local authorities to be able to make decisions that impact the quality of education.”

Warning Signs

Former Director of Administration Gary Sasse voiced his concerns as the state considers a statewide contact. 

“In considering the merits of adopting a statewide teachers’ contract the key question to ask is will it result in our kids receiving a better education? Unfortunately, a statewide teachers’ contract could stifle efforts to improve the performance of Rhode Island’s local schools,” said Sasse.

“In the collective bargaining process negotiations on economic matters and performance are linked. If a statewide teacher contract was negotiated over economic issues, could school committees lose leverage at the bargaining table to negotiate issues impacting the effectiveness and efficiency of public schools?" said Sasse.

A statewide teacher contract could imposes higher property taxes in some communities,” continued Sasse. “If a statewide salary schedule was imposed on local education authorities how would it be paid for in districts whose costs are below the statewide salary schedule?”

Gary Sasse, former Director of Administration

“A statewide teacher contract could enhance the leverage of unions at the bargaining table. What risks is the state taking to place the teacher unions in a position to close down all schools if a stalemate is reached in negotiating a statewide contract? Much needs to be done to improve the performance of Rhode Island’s schools, particularly for minorities,” said Sasse. “Using political capital to debate the merits of a statewide teachers’ contract will take energy and attention away from issues that can make a real difference in providing all kids access to quality educational opportunities.”
 

 

Related Slideshow: Depression Among High School Students: How Does Your Community Compare?

The below slides show the number of students who reported experiencing depression at least once in the past 12 months, based upon the SurveyWorks survey, which was offered to public high school students across the state in the spring of 2014. For those who said they had been depressed, the survey asked how many had considered suicide and how many had actually attempted it. Schools are listed based on depression rates, starting with the lowest to the highest. Note that the rates can be affected by how many students participate in the survey and how supportive a school environment is. Schools that were not full high schools are not included. Source: InfoWorks! data from the Rhode Island Department of Education. 

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#56 Block Island School

Location: New Shoreham
Number of Students: NA

Number of Student Respondents: 30
% Who Have Been Depressed: 16.7

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: NA
% Who Attempted Suicide: NA

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#55 Cranston Construction Career Academy

Location: Cranston
Number of Students: 158

Number of Student Respondents: 124
% Who Have Been Depressed: 19.4

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 8.1
% Who Attempted Suicide: 0.0

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#54 Sheila Skip Nowell Leadership Academy (II)

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 81

Number of Student Respondents: 15
% Who Have Been Depressed: 20.0

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: NA
% Who Attempted Suicide: NA

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#53 Exeter/West Greenwich 

Location: Exeter and West Greenwich
Number of Students: 540

Number of Student Respondents: 438
% Who Have Been Depressed: 20.1

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 9.1 
% Who Attempted Suicide: 4.8

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#52 North Smithfield High School

Location: North Smithfield
Number of Students: 519

Number of Student Respondents: 431
% Who Have Been Depressed: 21.8

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 7.9
% Who Attempted Suicide: 2.3

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#51 South Kingstown High School

Location: South Kingstown
Number of Students: 1,073

Number of Student Respondents: 685
% Who Have Been Depressed: 22.3

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 10.8
% Who Attempted Suicide: 4.7

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#50 Portsmouth High School

Location: Portsmouth
Number of Students: 960

Number of Student Respondents: 777
% Who Have Been Depressed: 22.4

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 10.6
% Who Attempted Suicide: 6.0

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#49 Chariho Regional High School

Location: Charlestown
Number of Students: 1,201

Number of Student Respondents: 955
% Who Have Been Depressed: 23.7

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 10.2
% Who Attempted Suicide: 4.8

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#48 Narragansett High School

Location: Narragansett
Number of Students: 429

Number of Student Respondents: 349
% Who Have Been Depressed: 23.8

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 11.2
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.3

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#47 Mount Pleasant High School

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 898

Number of Student Respondents: 656
% Who Have Been Depressed: 23.9

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 8.1
% Who Attempted Suicide: 4.5

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#46 Barrington High School

Location: Barrington
Number of Students: 1,027

Number of Student Respondents: 843
% Who Have Been Depressed: 24.0

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 9.6
% Who Attempted Suicide: 3.2

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#45 Scituate High School

Location: Scituate
Number of Students: 469

Number of Student Respondents: 399
% Who Have Been Depressed: 24.1

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 8.2
% Who Attempted Suicide: 4.1

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#44 William B. Cooley Senior High School

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 617

Number of Student Respondents: 376
% Who Have Been Depressed: 24.2

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 6.9
% Who Attempted Suicide: 4.8

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#43 Ponaganset High School

Location: Foster and Glocester
Number of Students: 684

Number of Student Respondents:  541
% Who Have Been Depressed: 24.4

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 11.2
% Who Attempted Suicide: 6.2

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#42 East Greenwich High School 

Location: East Greenwich
Number of Students: 729

Number of Student Respondents: 675
% Who Have Been Depressed: 24.6

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 9.7
% Who Attempted Suicide: 4.8

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#41 Lincoln Senior High School 

Location: Lincoln
Number of Students: 1,005

Number of Student Respondents: 771
% Who Have Been Depressed: 24.8

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 11.1
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.1

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#40 Smithfield Senior High School

Location: Smithfield
Number of Students: 755

Number of Student Respondents: 499
% Who Have Been Depressed: 24.8

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 12.2
% Who Attempted Suicide: 7.3

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#39 North Kingstown Senior High School

Location: North Kingstown
Number of Students: 1,387

Number of Student Respondents: 979
% Who Have Been Depressed: 25.0

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 10.4
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.2

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#38 Coventry High School

Location: Coventry
Number of Students: 1,607

Number of Student Respondents: 1,254
% Who Have Been Depressed: 25.8

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 11.6
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.1

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#37 Paul Cuffee Charter School

Location: Providence
Number of Students: NA

Number of Student Respondents: 205
% Who Have Been Depressed: 25.9

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 13.2
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.4

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#36 West Warwick Senior High School

Location: West Warwick
Number of Students: 935

Number of Student Respondents: 628
% Who Have Been Depressed: 27.2

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 14.9
% Who Attempted Suicide: 7.1

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#35 Westerly High School

Location: Westerly
Number of Students: 917

Number of Student Respondents:  662
% Who Have Been Depressed: 27.3

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 10.8
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.6

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#34 Providence Career and Technical Academy

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 577

Number of Student Respondents: 424
% Who Have Been Depressed: 27.4

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 5.5
% Who Attempted Suicide: 3.4

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#33 Toll Gate High School

Location: Warwick
Number of Students: 958

Number of Student Respondents: 684
% Who Have Been Depressed: 27.5

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 11.5
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.9

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#32 Classical High School

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 1,119

Number of Student Respondents: 997
% Who Have Been Depressed: 27.7

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 8.8
% Who Attempted Suicide: 2.6

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#31 Cumberland High School

Location: Cumberland
Number of Students: 1,337

Number of Student Respondents: 1,039
% Who Have Been Depressed: 27.8

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 12.0
% Who Attempted Suicide: 6.6

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#30 E-Cubed Academy

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 349

Number of Student Respondents: 167
% Who Have Been Depressed: 28.1

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 12.5
% Who Attempted Suicide: 3.8

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#29 Central Falls High School

Location: Central Falls
Number of Students: 727

Number of Student Respondents: 464
% Who Have Been Depressed: 28.4

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 11.9
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.0

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#28 Burrillville High School

Location: Burrillville
Number of Students: 682

Number of Student Respondents: 555
% Who Have Been Depressed: 28.8

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 11.6
% Who Attempted Suicide: 3.1

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#27 Blackstone Charter Academy

Location: Pawtucket
Number of Students: 168

Number of Student Respondents: 146
% Who Have Been Depressed: 28.8

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 11.6
% Who Attempted Suicide: 4.1

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#26 Cranston High School West

Location: Cranston
Number of Students: 1,526

Number of Student Respondents: 1,242
% Who Have Been Depressed: 29.2

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 13.6
% Who Attempted Suicide: 7.0

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#25 Hope High School

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 894

Number of Student Respondents: 642
% Who Have Been Depressed: 29.4

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 11.3
% Who Attempted Suicide: 8.6

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#24 Rogers High School

Location: Newport
Number of Students: 538

Number of Student Respondents: 390
% Who Have Been Depressed: 29.7

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 9.6
% Who Attempted Suicide: 4.5

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#23 William E. Tolman Senior High School

Location: Pawtucket
Number of Students: 1,034

Number of Student Respondents: 563
% Who Have Been Depressed: 30.0

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 10.7
% Who Attempted Suicide: 4.9

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#22 Shea Senior High School

Location: Pawtucket
Number of Students: 858

Number of Student Respondents: 593
% Who Have Been Depressed: 30.4

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 10.3
% Who Attempted Suicide: 7.0

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#21 Tiverton High School

Location: Tiverton
Number of Students: 541

Number of Student Respondents: 437
% Who Have Been Depressed: 30.4

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 11.8
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.7

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#20 Central High School

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 1,112

Number of Student Respondents: 700
% Who Have Been Depressed: 30.6

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 10.6
% Who Attempted Suicide: 6.3

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#19 Mt. Hope High School

Location: Bristol
Number of Students: 990

Number of Student Respondents: 745
% Who Have Been Depressed: 31.0

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 13.8
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.9

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#18 Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 486

Number of Student Respondents: 327
% Who Have Been Depressed: 31.2

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 8.3
% Who Attempted Suicide: 4.9

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#17 North Providence High School

Location: North Providence
Number of Students: 969

Number of Student Respondents: 769
% Who Have Been Depressed:  31.7

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 14.3
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.2

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#16 Cranston High School East

Location: Cranston
Number of Students: 1,583

Number of Student Respondents: 1,317
% Who Have Been Depressed: 32.8

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 14.1
% Who Attempted Suicide:  6.7

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#15 Academy for Career Exploration

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 168

Number of Student Respondents: 97
% Who Have Been Depressed: 33.0

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 12.4
% Who Attempted Suicide: 1.0

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#14 Middletown High School 

Location: Middletown
Number of Students: 685

Number of Student Respondents:  514
% Who Have Been Depressed: 33.3

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 11.7
% Who Attempted Suicide: 6.0

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#13 Johnston Senior High School 

Location: Johnston
Number of Students: 893

Number of Student Respondents: 659
% Who Have Been Depressed: 33.5

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 16.4
% Who Attempted Suicide: 7.6

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#12 Pilgrim High School

Location: Warwick
Number of Students: 991

Number of Student Respondents: 791
% Who Have Been Depressed: 33.5

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 16.1
% Who Attempted Suicide: 7.8

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#11 East Providence High School

Location: East Providence
Number of Students: 1,502

Number of Student Respondents: 1,181
% Who Have Been Depressed: 33.8

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 14.6
% Who Attempted Suicide: 7.3

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#10 Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 838

Number of Student Respondents: 608
% Who Have Been Depressed: 34.4

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 15.4
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.4

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#9 William M. Davies Career & Technical Center

Location: Lincoln
Number of Students: 849

Number of Student Respondents: 702
% Who Have Been Depressed: 34.5

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 17.6
% Who Attempted Suicide: 7.0

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#8 Warwick Veterans Memorial High School

Location: Warwick
Number of Students: 910

Number of Student Respondents:  629
% Who Have Been Depressed: 34.8

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 16.3
% Who Attempted Suicide: 7.8

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#7 The Greene School

Location: Exeter
Number of Students: 162

Number of Student Respondents: 138
% Who Have Been Depressed: 35.5

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 16.7
% Who Attempted Suicide: 7.2

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#6 J.M. Walsh School

Location: Pawtucket
Number of Students: 192

Number of Student Respondents: 172
% Who Have Been Depressed: 36.6

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 17.4
% Who Attempted Suicide: 6.4

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#5 Times2 Academy

Location: Providence
Number of Students: NA

Number of Student Respondents: 35
% Who Have Been Depressed: 37.1

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 17.1
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.7

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#4 Woonsocket High School 

Location: Woonsocket 
Number of Students: 1,579

Number of Student Respondents: 1,026
% Who Have Been Depressed: 37.3

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 17.0
% Who Attempted Suicide: 9.3

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#3 RI Nurses Institute

Location: Providence
Number of Students: 266

Number of Student Respondents: 193
% Who Have Been Depressed: 38.9

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 10.9
% Who Attempted Suicide: 5.2

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#2 Sheila Skip Nowell Leadership Academy (I)

Location: Central Falls
Number of Students: 73

Number of Student Respondents: 25
% Who Have Been Depressed: 40.0

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 12.0
% Who Attempted Suicide: 12.0

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#1 Beacon Charter High School for the Arts

Location: Woonsocket
Number of Students: 227

Number of Student Respondents: 209
% Who Have Been Depressed: 41.1

Of those Who Have Been Depressed
% Who Considered Suicide: 27.9
% Who Attempted Suicide: 12.2

 
 

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