BREAKING NEWS: Providence School Committee Votes to Close Five Schools
Thursday, April 28, 2011
The four schools targeted by Mayor Angel Taveras and the committee were Flynn Elementary School; Windmill Street Elementary; West Broadway Elementary; Messer Annex; and the Messer School.
Committee member Robert Wise was the only one of the group to vote "No" on each of the schools.
Councilman Upset and Surprised
During the vote, City Councilman Nicholas Narducci (Ward 4) interrupted the school board to announce that he would be submitting a resolution asking the entire school board to resign on Friday. He later said Wise would not be asked to resign.
"I am surprised about the entire school board," Narducci said after the vote. "I was told there was a good chance for an extension."
Protests, Chants and Speeches
Protesting parents, teachers and students demonstrated against the closures in front of the Providence Career and Technical Academy on Fricker Street prior to the School Committee meeting. Banners were held reading "Save Our Schools" and "Save Our Teachers," and the group entered the school's auditorium in a procession, chanting "Our Schools."
Dozens of individuals spoke in the nearly two-hour long public comment period prior to the vote, Teachers, parents, council members, and even young students took part in making their pleas to the committee, many concluding to loud ovations from the audience, as sporadic chants broke out in both English and Spanish. Providence Councilman Davian Sanchez (Ward 11), made a impassioned speech to keep the Flynn Elementary School from being closed, loudly and tearfully shouting, "I was born in that neighborhood. I was born a block away from Flynn."
Trying to Erase a Deficit
Union Wanted More Information
In what became a familiar refrain from the audience during the evening, prior to the meeting Providence Teachers Union president Steve Smith said, "(The School, Committee) haven't given us the information we've asked for. They can't take the information and just throw it out there as accurate."
"We've been trying, more than working hard to sit down to a bargaining agreement," said Smith of defending the job losses the union's teachers will suffer with the school closings.
"This will have a devastating effect on the communities, especially after we have spent a ton of money on parental engagement in the neighborhood schools," Smith concluded.
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