Providence Schools


Once again, a Providence mayor is ensnarled in a bitter battle with a city employee union, in this case, the firefighters. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders if the capital city should go back to the future with city workers.


Once again, Rhode Island politics is ensnared in a public employee pension controversy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time to put this issue in our collective rear view mirror.

It’s well past time to get beyond the noisy debate over public employee pensions in Rhode Island. It’s a joust that has ensnared  the Statehouse for more than a generation. It has long pitted the business community against public employees and their union leaders, fractured relations between conservatives and liberals and led to tortuous attempts for years to shore up the system.

Mayor Jorge Elorza has announced that Providence Schools will be closed tomorrow, Monday, February 9, in anticipation of a snow storm.

In a statement just released, Elorza also said that a citywide parking ban will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

The actions are in response to a winter storm forecast from the National Weather Service. All public after school activities in the capital city are also canceled.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

With 18 new members in the 113-seat General Assembly, On Politics is offering a periodic look at the latest additions to the House and Senate. We continue with Representative Aaron Regunberg (D-Providence), who used his activist background to catapult into the seat previously held by former Speaker Gordon Fox.

Age: 24

Occupation: organizer with the Providence Student Union.

Party: Democrat

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Jorge Elorza this afternoon will be inaugurated Providence’s mayor. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses the challenges the new mayor faces.

After impressive primary and general election  victories, law professor Elorza takes over the spacious second-floor office in the capital city’s Beaux-Arts City Hall. Since his election he has wisely reached out to the city’s warring political and ethnic tribes as he prepares to govern a 21st Century ancient New England port that had its beginnings in the 17th Century.

Clerks from the Providence School department are protesting the firing last year of a secretary who worked at Asa Messer Elementary School.  The secretary was fired after a student was released to an unauthorized relative. The man, who was known to school staff, was later accused of molesting the student.  The secretary was supposed to return to school this week, after an arbitrator ruled she should get her job back.  But the Providence school department is trying to block her return to work. 

Update: The Providence Teachers Union announced its endorsement of Buddy Cianci today. The unions representing firefighters and police have also endorsed Cianci. In once of those grand ironies that limn Rhode Island politics, the police union has endorsed a two-time felon over a judge, Jorge Elorza.

So it looks like Providence mayoral campaign politics reared its head in the negotiations between the union representing public school teachers and the administration of Mayor Angel  Taveras?

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

As students and teachers prepare to go back to school, Providence has released an update on efforts to improve its troubled schools. 

The report called “On the Move” suggests some promising changes in areas like early reading and getting more kids to graduate. Rhode Island Public Radio Education Reporter Elisabeth Harrison gets the details from Providence Superintendent Susan Lusi.

Steven Smith, a former state representative and the longtime president of the Providence Teachers Union, is retiring.

Smith says his retirement after 33 years as a teacher and union leader is scheduled to be considered by the Providence School Board at a meeting tomorrow.

As the $110 million deficit of January 2011 recedes in the rear-view mirror, Providence still faces sharp economic challenges. One of the most serious is how Rhode Island's capital city desperately needs a broader tax base, even as its highest-in-the-nation commercial taxes discourages the very economic development that would improve the situation.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

The Justice Department calls this “a new day” for the Rhode Islanders with developmental disabilities that were moved into segregated workshops and paid well below what they should have earned. The Department of Justice has settled with the state and city of Providence in a case involving some 200 workers.