Chicago Schools Announce $52M in Cuts, Layoffs

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The layoffs included about 550 teachers — both from schools that are closing and struggling academically — along with teacher assistants, bus aides, custodians and others.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel promoted the school-closure plan, saying the buildings were underused and that closing them it would save the district hundreds of millions over 10 years and improve education. Chicago Teachers Union Staff Coordinator Jackson Potter called the layoffs and closures “part and parcel of a very intense series of attacks on our schools that will undermine the academic growth and development and the safety of our most vulnerable students.”

He contends that Emanuel has refused to explore other options, including by demanding a more equitable state tax system and taking back tax revenue lost to tax-increment finance districts meant to promote development. Potter also said the union believes the layoffs “could be the tip of the iceberg” as individual schools assess their budgets.

Emanuel and Byrd-Bennett said CPS has 403,000 students in a system that has seats for more than 500,000. The school closures have sparked protests and lawsuits from opponents who say they disproportionately affect minority neighborhoods and will endanger children who may have to cross gang boundaries to get to a new school.

Officials have said students will be moved to schools that are performing better academically and that CPS will work with Chicago police and community groups to ensure students can get to and from their new schools safely.

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