Mayor Elorza announces proposed overhaul of Providence Schools

By: Rebecca Turco

Email: rturco@abc6.com

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Sweeping changes could be coming to the Providence School Department.

The mayor and interim superintendent are looking to shift more resources out of the central office and into classroom, as well as create new positions to better track academic performance.

"We need to realign and reorganize our central administration to align with the strategic direction that the district’s already going in," explained Mayor Jorge Elorza.

The overall hope of the plan is to give each school more control. Academic policy experts would spend most of their time in schools instead of the central office, data analysis specialists would be hired to better track student performances and several part-time secretaries would be replaced by 13 full-time clerical workers from the central office.

"Instead of having them work on central office dictates, we want them to be in schools supporting teachers and principals," said Interim Superintendent Christopher Maher.

"It frees up room in the budget so that we can hire positions to provide yet more supports to the schools,” added Elorza.

The plan also includes the creation of a multi-lingual call center. “If you’re a person, and especially a person that doesn’t speak English, and you walked into a school and you can’t get an answer, you can call that number,” Maher said.

Officials hope to hire eight to ten people altogether in this overall plan. Elorza said these jobs would be cost neutral.

The city council will need to approve the mayor’s proposal in order for him to make these new hires. “The council needs to look at the whole proposal and have a healthy conversation in committee,” Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan (D-Ward 5) told ABC6 News.

Elorza said the local clerical workers’ union is backing his plan. If it passes, he hopes to have the changes implemented by the start of next school year.

The Providence Teachers’ Union had no comment.

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