The Providence Teachers Union says layoff notices sent to all of the city's nearly 2,000 teachers are causing chaos and anxiety.
Melissa Withers, Mayor Angel Taveras' communications director, says the teachers won't all lose their jobs, but state law requires departments to notify teachers by March 1 if they could be laid off in the coming school year.
"This March 1 deadline requires us to make decisions now regarding the next school year and it made sense to maintain the maximum flexibility," Withers said.
"It is too early in the process to be certain of all possible changes in the school budget," she said. "Issuing dismissal notices to all of the teachers provides maximum flexibility with our plan and it doesn't single out a small group of teachers."
But the president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, Frank Flynn, says the move is distressing.
"The reality is there are going to be 20,000 or so students in Providence next year and they are going to need teachers," he said.
The Providence School Department is facing a budget shortfall of nearly $40 million in the next academic year.
This program aired on February 23, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.