By: Chloe Leshner


WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) -- Dozens of teachers in Warwick may not have a job next school year. Layoff notices were delivered last week and school officials say it's because of budget concerns and school consolidations.

Three elementary schools are closing at the end of this school year so some layoffs were expected but the President of the Warwick Teachers' Union says 71 teachers is just too many to go.

"Whenever one receives a layoff notice, that's their livelihood," says Darlene Netcoh, the Warwick Teachers' Union President.

Layoff notices were sent out last week and she says the number of people who received them  is "exorbitant."

"There are 71 this year and that number is extremely high compared to past years," says Netcoh.

That's even taking into consideration that 3 elementary schools will be closing and 6th graders will move to the junior high buildings. The number of specialists could also be reduced and classroom sizes will go up.

"We're already seeing some numbers for next year and they're scary. Because there's no way kids can get individual attention when you are cramming the classrooms," she says.

In a statement to ABC 6 News, Superintendent Phil Thornton says the layoffs are necessary "due to budgetary considerations and school consolidation." The school committee is asking for $8.1 million in the city's budget, up from $4.7 million last year to cover the pay raises the teachers' union just fought for among other things.

But Netcoh says the committee is using teachers and students as pawns to get more money.

"They're trying to balance the budget on our backs where they've already balanced the budget on our backs," she says.

The school committee will be voting to finalize the number of teachers actually laid off at a meeting on Tuesday.

(C) WLNE/ABC 6 2-18