updated 2/23/2011 12:13:19 PM ET 2011-02-23T17:13:19

Facing a projected budget deficit of almost $40 million for the 2011-2012 school year, the Providence School Board plans to vote Thursday on a plan that could put the jobs of its more than 1,900 teachers on the chopping block, The Providence Journal reported early Wednesday.

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Supt. Tom Brady sent a letter to teachers on Tuesday informing them of the controversial move, noting that the state needed to inform teachers of their potential change in employment status by March 1 in order to give the district the “flexibility to consider every cost saving option, including reductions in staff.”

“To be clear about what this means,” Brady said in that e-mail. “This action gives the School Board the right to dismiss teachers as necessary, but not all teachers will actually be dismissed at the end of the school year.”

Brady’s e-mail, however, has sparked the outrage of the Providence Teachers Union, led by Steve Smith — a man who has collaborated closely with Brady in the past, according to The Providence Journal.

“This is beyond insane,” Smith, president of the union, told the paper on Tuesday. “Let’s create the most chaos and the highest level of anxiety in a district where teachers are already under unbelievable stress.” He compared his reaction to the announcement to what the U.S. State Department probably felt the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Smith, who said he was caught off guard by news of the possible dismissals, reportedly blamed Providence Mayor Angel Taveras for the decision.

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