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11:19 am
Mon March 14, 2011

Providence officials identify four schools targeted for closure

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras on Monday recommended closing four city schools to save at least $12 million next year.

The targeted schools are Flynn Elementary, Windmill Street Elementary, Asa Messer Elementary, and the Messer annex. Taveras says the cuts are necessary since Providence faces a $180 million deficit over two years.

"I believe the recommendations being put forth to the school board reflect the best thinking about how we can offer our kids the education they need and deserve," Taveras said, "while significantly cutting costs to help close the city's budget deficit."

During an afternoon news conference at the Providence schools' administrative office, Taveras and Schools Superintendent Thomas Brady says the schools targeted for closure were chosen based on age, the outlook for relocating students, transportation costs, and other factors. Bridgham Middle School would also be remade as an elementary school.

City officials say the planned cuts would not affect class sizes, and that many students would move to higher performing schools. Forty to seventy teaching jobs would also be eliminated - a move the city hopes to make largely through attrition and an unspecified one-time retirement incentive. Taveras said it was premature to discuss the criteria for deciding which teachers will be retained.

Community meetings on the recommended school closings are set to begin later this month.

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