State takeover of PPSD to begin Nov. 1

PROVIDENCE – The state takeover of the Providence Public School District will begin Nov. 1, the R.I. Department of Education announced Tuesday.

Concurrently, R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green released her final order outlining the terms and considerations of the state takeover.

Infante-Green’s order has mandated that the state takeover will initially run five years, rather than a previously proposed three years. Another change from her original proposal is a larger inclusion of community engagement in the turnaround effort.

The order gives Infante-Green oversight of budget, program and personnel of PPSD, and she assumes all powers exercised by the Providence School Board and superintendent. The order is pursuant to The Paul W. Crowley Rhode Island Student Investment Initiative, part of the Rhode Island Board of Education Act.

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“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Providence, and I am excited to begin the work of transforming the city’s schools to serve generations of students and families,” said Infante-Green. “We know the road ahead will be long and challenging in order to make sustainable, long-term change. We are committed to working tirelessly with educators, students, and the community to develop a plan that moves us in that direction from day one.”

Infante-Green requested the authority to take control of the school district in July.

The order allows for collaboration with the city of Providence, but that collaboration will be pursuant to a separate agreement.

The plan included four strategies to turnaround the district:

  • Strategy I: Technical assistance to curriculum, student assessment, instruction and family and community involvement.
  • Strategy II: Policy support, including performance goals, intervention models and strategies supported by data and an outcome-driven accountability system.
  • Strategy III: Resource oversight to ensure the adequate distribution of resources
  • Strategy IV: The creation of partnerships with educational institutions, businesses and governmental or nonprofit agencies.

The order includes that intervention models on the table for the district include school closures.

The order comes after a John Hopkins Institute for Education Policy study found problems with the PPSD, including neglected school properties, layers of bureaucracy, the school district’s curriculum, professional development opportunities, and workforce and community morale.

In RIDE’s announcement, it said that Infante-Green is expected to name a “state turnaround superintendent,” who will be charged with overseeing the city’s schools and working with the community. The announcement was expected in “the coming weeks.” Until then, Fran Gallo is expected to remain interim superintendent.

On Tuesday morning, Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza released a statement on the takeover, saying, “As we begin the transformational changes needed in our schools, I remain committed to engaging our families and centering their voices to ensure long-lasting change. We have always known that providing our students the 21st century education they deserve cannot be done alone. The strong collaboration we have built with the state and local stakeholders will continue to be the driving force behind what we have envisioned for PPSD. As we consider every option and engage every stakeholder, we will focus on developing sustainable changes that build bright futures for every Providence student.”

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