“We can’t cut our way out of this crisis,” she said. “Our spending obligations, pension, salary increases and other costs, continue to rise.”
The majority of the teachers laid off are probationary teachers who have worked for CPS for less than three years, said CPS Chief Talent Officer Alicia Winckler
The teachers being laid off will be notified by their principals on Friday. Winckler said all laid-off teachers will be able to reapply for district teaching positions. She noted that in the past, more the 60 percent of district teachers who were laid off were rehired.
Thursday’s announcement came as lawyers for the nation’s third-largest school district were in a federal courtroom defending Chicago’s plan to shutter some 50 schools.
The Chicago Teachers Union and concerned parents who are seeking an injunction to halt the plan before the new school year begins say the closures inordinately harm black and special-needs students, violating their rights.
The hearing stems from several lawsuits filed on behalf of parents. One contends that black children make up about 88 percent of students being moved from closed schools, although they comprise 42 percent of district students.
Critics say talk by city and schools officials of budgetary savings is misleading, leaving the impression that the closures will help address the yawning budget deficit. Pressed during cross-examination on Thursday, which was the hearing’s third day, CPS’ budget director, Ginger Ostro, conceded that the closures weren’t designed to fix CPS’ financial mess.
Adam Anderson, a district planning official, testified that what guided the district as it decided what schools would be closed was how much classroom space wasn’t being used.
A complex “utilization equation” was employed in the process, and the district found there were some 500,000 available classroom seats for 400,000 students, leaving 100,000 seats unused, Anderson said.
Enrollment has fallen over the years with a corresponding fall in population in African-American areas, which is why so many of the schools that ended up on the closure list were in predominantly black neighborhoods, Anderson said.