Central Falls is one of the poorest towns in the state. It looks like the pictures everyone's seen of Detroit or Flint. There are lots of boarded up windows, abandoned buildings, decrepit factories with broken windows, etc. It's an absolutely depressed community. According to Wikipedia, the median income in the town is $22k.
Teacher salaries at the high school average $72-78k. Apparently 50% of the students at the school are failing all of their classes, and the graduation rate is also under 50%. In an effort to turn the school around, the superintendent requested some changes be made whereby the school day would be slightly extended, teachers would perform some extra tutoring, etc.
The union balked and refused the terms, so now she is firing the entire teaching staff of the high school and replacing them. This is yet another example of unions digging their own graves by refusing to negotiate or accept reasonable terms. Sentiment is on the side of the superintendent, at least among the folks I have discussed the issue with.
And what exactly were the changes expected?
The conditions are adding 25 minutes to the school day, providing [one hour of] tutoring on a rotating schedule before and after school, eating lunch with students once a week, submitting to more rigorous evaluations, attending weekly after-school planning sessions with other teachers and participating in two weeks of training in the summer.
It seems extremely messed up that the teachers, or at least their 'union', are balking at these suggestions. The superintendant even tried to compromise with the union by offering extra money for some of the changes, including an extra 30$ an hour for the two additional weeks of training in the summer and the 90 minutes a week of after-school planning time.
The union is holding out for 90$ an hour.