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Over 350 Providence Public School District teachers displaced, layoffs possible

Teachers discuss application process, potential teacher flight, fear of layoffs

<p>As of now, a total of 311 job positions have been posted for the 2024-25 academic year, according to&nbsp; Wegimont. </p>

As of now, a total of 311 job positions have been posted for the 2024-25 academic year, according to  Wegimont.

On March 1, the Providence Public School District formally notified 367 teachers that they would be displaced for the coming school year, meaning that the teachers will need to find another placement in the school district. In a letter shared with The Herald, Deputy Superintendent Zack Scott informed recipients that “difficult decisions” would continue to be made throughout the spring. 

In the letter, Scott noted that the district is facing “financial challenges … driven by the expiration of federal funds and nationwide declines in enrollment.”

While PPSD Public Information Officer Jay Wegimont wrote in an email to The Herald that no existing classroom positions were funded by COVID-19 relief funds, he stated that federal funds were used to “onboard additional support staff.”

For Maribeth Calabro, president of the Providence Teachers Union, future layoffs are a concern. “We’ve had conversations for several months about the fiscal cliff, and how that may impact staffing,” Calabro said. “The Commissioner has said there may be layoffs.”


When asked about the future of displaced teachers, Wegimont wrote that “we do expect most displaced teachers to have new roles within PPSD next year.” He added that the teachers will be given preference over other applicants when applying to other positions in the district. 

Calabro explained that the cause for displacement varied from person to person. Some teachers, like those at 360 High School, were displaced due to school closure. Others had failed to complete emergency certification requirements. A large number were displaced due to position restructuring.

Reading and math coaches, for example, are being merged into a general coach role for next year, Calabro said. “We went from potentially two coaches at every elementary school down to one,” she added. 

But that doesn’t mean half of those coaches will be laid off. According to the Providence Teachers Union contract, layoffs will be conducted based on “seniority within area of certification” if they occur.

“Coaches who have an elementary certification may not necessarily be laid off,” Calabro said. “It may be a least senior elementary person who is laid off.” 

Communication around displacements also varied. While all teachers received their formal notices on March 1, those at 360 knew they would be at risk when their school closure was announced, said Alejandra Lindstrom Peralta ’12, a displaced art teacher from 360. 

“Feb. 6 was when we found out our school was closing and we would be displaced,” Lindstrom Peralta said. “We didn’t get any sort of email or letter until … we got our official displacement letter.”

The application system for a new position is also challenging, Lindstrom Peralta added. According to her, “some positions are posted twice and you have to apply to both of them to be able to even get an interview.” 

Calabro fears that teachers will leave the district due to job insecurity. The risk of losing teachers “keeps me up at night, every night,” she said. “I think that this whole thing may cause us to lose some really outstanding educators again, and so that’s very frustrating.”

Wegimont did not respond to specific questions about a potential teacher flight. 


PPSD has also struggled with a teacher shortage for years. “The teacher shortage is very real, particularly in Providence,” Calabro said. “The problem is that the shortages are in areas that are hard to fill.”

Teachers operating in these “hard-to-fill” staff positions — such as math or special education — are less likely to face layoffs. Still, dozens of teachers in such positions were displaced. “We’re still questioning as to why they’ve consolidated or displaced (hard-to-fill teachers) to begin with,” Calabro told The Herald. 

While Wegimont did not directly state why those positions were displaced, he responded by emphasizing that displacement does not usually result in a layoff. “Last year, 233 displacement letters were issued, and no layoffs were actually made by PPSD,” Wegimont wrote.

“Teachers that remain displaced 15 days prior to the start of school will be given an assignment by the Office of Human Resources,” Wegimont added. Lindstrom Peralta noted that teachers can be placed in vacancy assignments for positions they are not certified to teach.

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As of now, a total of 311 job positions have been posted for the 2024-25 academic year, according to  Wegimont. 

Certain subject areas have a large discrepancy between the number of displacements and the number of available positions. “For art, it’s not a great outlook,” Lindstrom Peralta said. While 14 art teachers were displaced, only seven positions have been posted.

Lindstrom Peralta added that many positions require teachers to split their time between two schools. 

According to the Providence Teachers Union contract, displaced teachers are required to apply for a minimum of five positions. Lindstrom Peralta only received one interview out of the ones she applied for. She also interviewed for a job outside of the district.

“Leaving the district means you would definitely take a pay cut because the salaries for Providence are higher than … private or charter,” she said. She also cited healthcare benefits and a dedication to PPSD students as reasons to stay in the district. 

“We’re still talking about a bunch of kids who need someone at school who’s there and cares,” Lindstrom Peralta added. 

More positions could be posted over the spring and summer. The statutory deadline for layoffs is June 1. Until then, “PPSD will continue to monitor our staffing and budget projections throughout the spring to determine if any additional staffing changes are needed,” Wegimont wrote.

Ciara Meyer

Ciara Meyer is a Senior Staff Writer covering the Beyond Brown beat. She is from Saratoga Springs, New York and plans on concentrating in Statistics and English nonfiction. In her free time, she loves scrapbooking and building lego flowers.

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