Schools Open in 11 Days. Supt. Green: “…not up to my standards”

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Leadership differ on state of readiness

Schools Open in 11 Days. Supt. Green: “…not up to my standards”


11 days to the first day of school in Providence. But there's confusion if the buildings are ready or not.

Late on Thursday, after a day of school inspections, Supt. Infante-Green said, in a long interview with the Providence Journal:


“It’s not up to my standards. It’s not as clean as we expected, and the physical condition is worse than what people have reported. I’m already disappointed with what we found yesterday... The conversations are going to be very difficult.”


Supt. Infante-Green is not yet completely in charge of the Providence schools due to the formal "takeover" process, and Interim Supt. Fran Gallo is charged with getting the schools open. She will serve for approx. 90 days and has said she will not stay beyond that time, partly due to her own pension regulations. Her opinion appears to differ from Infante-Green, and when she was asked about how she reacted to the physical condition of the schools in an NBC10 interview with Gene Valicenti, she said she did not find them as bad as they have been described - “Not at all.” 


Thursday Mayor Elorza told WPRO’s Gene Valicenti that “they will be ready” - but also “the schools won’t be where they need to be for about 10 years”. He went on to say that he would go out and paint himself, if necessary, to make schools ready.

Beyond the physical condition of the schools, there is are all the other issues such as teacher absenteeism and of course all the other topics - curriculum, discipline, security, cell phone policy, suspension policy, special ed compliance, etc. Little has been said about any of those issues. Infante-Green has said that she believes her powers are broad enough to end contracts, which appears to be a tool in her toolbox of change.


So, what conditions are facing the Providence school children in 11 days? Will the teachers’ unions object to teachers working in unsafe buildings?  Will parents and the community be asked to be more fully engaged in “fixing” the schools, beyond sweeping  parking lots as volunteers? Will parents be invited in for a community inspection walk-through? Will the two companies who spontaneously called the WPRO Tara Granahan show to offer over $15,000 of complimentary services in inspection and construction be allowed to work in the schools?  We’ve heard that Providence city workers from non-education departments are being recruited to help clean up the buildings - will they go? How does this work with work regulations, insurance coverage, etc?

Will all the negative conditions trickle down to the children, or will there be a solid effort to energize and motivate the children as they enter the buildings, such as they are, for a year of learning. The principal at Bain Middle School in Cranston has teachers walking the neighborhood to greet students and families in their homes. Any such creative efforts, especially at the elementary level in Providence?


A lot can happen in 11 days - or not.