Dozens of Providence teachers told contracts won’t be renewed; district sees ‘difficult decisions’ ahead

Dozens of Providence teachers told contracts won’t be renewed; district sees ‘difficult decisions’ ahead


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — More than four dozen non-tenured educators in the Providence Public School District were notified last week that their contracts won’t be renewed for the upcoming school year, Target 12 has learned.


In a letter distributed on Tuesday and obtained by Target 12, Superintendent Javier Montañez disclosed that the district notified 56 non-tenured educators about their “non-renewal status.” District spokesperson Jay Wegimont characterized the actions as “not layoffs but rather non-renewals of probationary educators.”

Montañez said the non-renewals were in subject areas where there are “more educators than planned positions for the upcoming school year.” A majority of the positions involved school counselors or physical education and health teachers.

The notices are the latest sign of financial strain in Rhode Island’s largest school district — which is currently controlled by the state — as district leaders grapple with the expiration of federal aid tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The superintendent said the state-run school district is “still actively recruiting to fill roles in high need areas,” like special education and mathematics, and said affected staff members who are qualified were encouraged to apply.

“These decisions are not easy and if we could take another course of action, we would,” Montañez wrote. “Ultimately, as a district, we have to consider our financial realities and take a measured approach to lessen the impact of these reductions for our district.”

The superintendent said the district is still working through “the complexities of planning for the upcoming school year and the tough decisions it entails.”

Just two months ago, more than 360 Providence teachers were notified they would have to find another job in order to keep working for the state-run school district. The displacement process happens annually, and the March 1 date for notice is contractually required.

Montañez also said in his letter Tuesday that the district eliminated 39 central office positions for the 2024-25 school year, instituted a hiring freeze, and axed 47 vacant positions in an effort to help balance the district’s budget.

“Since that time, we have been closely monitoring the number of displaced staff along with available positions for the upcoming year,” he wrote.

Montañez partly blamed Mayor Brett Smiley and his predecessors, saying that a decade of “flat-funding” by the city has put “financial strains” on the district. The city and the district have been battling in recent months over school funding.

“Despite continuous advocacy from PPSD for increased local funding, the financial landscape remains challenging, and more difficult decisions will have to be made,” the superintendent wrote.

Smiley has proposed increasing the city’s contribution to the school budget this year as part of the $598.6 million municipal budget plan he submitted last month to the Providence City Council.

The proposal includes roughly $133 million for the school district, which the mayor’s office said is the largest investment to the district in seven years, increasing the city’s current contribution by $3 million.

The budget is still being vetted by the City Council, which will hold public hearings on the proposal.

Alexandra Leslie ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.