With a projected deficit of nearly $40 million for the school department, Superintendent Tom Brady told teachers the budget situation was dire. So dire, it seems, that the department sent dismissal notices to all 1,926 of its teachers, according to CBS affiliate WPRI.
In his letter to the entire school department, republished in The Providence Journal, Brady wrote, "Since the full extent of the potential cuts to the school budget have yet to be determined, issuing a dismissal letter to all teachers was necessary to give the mayor, the School Board and the district maximum flexibility to consider every cost savings option."
State law requires that teachers be notified about potential changes to their employment status by March 1. In a news release from the Major Angel Taveras' office, the city explains, "The March 1 deadline requires that teachers be notified now about any potential changes to their status, despite the fact that budget planning for next year is still ongoing."
As the department works on the budget for next year, they will eventually determined how many teachers will need to be let go. Not every teacher will lose their job, even though they all just got a letter to that effect.
But don't tell that to Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith, who told The Providence Journal that the decision was "beyond insane."
"To take this approach is unconscionable," Smith told the Journal. He claims he was caught completely off-guard by Superintendent Brady's letter. Referencing a different surprise attack, Smith said, "Now I know how the United States State Department felt on December 7, 1941."