Central Falls school leader calls for talks, not mass firing

A district superintendent who fired all the teachers from one of Rhode Island’s most troubled schools said March 3 that she’s willing to negotiate with its teachers’ union after it publicly pledged to support reforms, reports the Associated Press. Central Falls Superintendent Frances Gallo said an offer made late on March 2 by the Central Falls Teachers’ Union gives her hope the issue could be resolved without mass firings. The offer includes support for a longer school day and providing before- and after-school tutoring for students. The Central Falls school board voted last week to fire 93 teachers and staff from the city’s high school after the end of the school year. No more than half the staff could be hired back under federal rules. The teachers’ union president, Jane Sessums, said she was cautiously optimistic both sides could talk. Her union is appealing the firings to the school district’s board of trustees and has filed a complaint with the state Labor Relations Board, saying the firings are unfair. State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Deborah Gist earlier ordered Gallo to choose from one of four reform options, including mass firings, to improve the high school. Only 7 percent of 11th-graders tested this fall were proficient in math, while 33 percent of the high school students tested proficient this fall in writing and just 55 percent were proficient in reading. Central Falls was seen as a test case for the federal turnaround model proposed by President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to help stem the nation’s dropout rate…

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