More than 850 CPS Teachers and Staff Laid Off

By Alex Parker  and Ted Cox  on June 14, 2013 3:44pm  | Updated on June 14, 2013 5:39pm

 Supporters of the Chicago Teachers Union march against the closure of 54 public schools on Saturday, May 18, 2013.
Supporters of the Chicago Teachers Union march against the closure of 54 public schools on Saturday, May 18, 2013.
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CHICAGO — More than 850 Chicago Public Schools teachers and staff were laid off Friday, the district announced, as the head of the Chicago Teachers Union warned the move would result in fewer experienced teachers.

At the 50 schools designated to close at the end of the year, 663 staff members lost their jobs, including 277 non-tenured teachers, 143 tenured teachers with unsatisfactory/satisfactory ratings, 100 teaching assistants, and 133 part-time workers, such as bus aides, CPS said.

The district also announced five schools would be designated as turnaround schools, where nearly all the staff is replaced. In this case, 192 teachers and staff lost their jobs. The turnaround schools are: Dewey Elementary, O'Keeffe Elementary, Leslie Lewis Elementary, Chalmers Specialty Elementary and Carter Elementary.

A CPS spokeswoman said the Academy for Urban School Leadership will take over management of the schools.

"Consolidating underutilized schools will give thousands of children this fall an opportunity to access a safe, higher-quality, 21st-century education with all of the investments that parents, principals, teachers and we agree children need for a bright future such as a library, safe passage, AC, access to updated technologies, science, computer and media labs, all of which will be made possible by redirecting resources from these underutilized schools as part of the process we created in partnership with the CTU in our joint contract agreement," said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, in a statement.

CTU president Karen Lewis said the layoffs were "premature," as the district works to prepare budgets based on enrollment for next fall. Prinicipals "haven't been given their entire budgets."

The pink slips were issued "before anyone knows how many students will return to CPS next year
and how many students in closing campuses will actually enroll in so-called welcoming schools," she said at a press conference at the Merchandise Mart. Lewis said she spoke with Byrd-Bennett Friday morning, and there was no mention of layoffs.

 CTU president Karen Lewis and Kristine Mayle, CTU financial secretary, speak to the media about the 855 layoffs announced by CPS on Friday, June 14, 2013.
CTU president Karen Lewis and Kristine Mayle, CTU financial secretary, speak to the media about the 855 layoffs announced by CPS on Friday, June 14, 2013.
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This week, the district announced a new budgeting method - student-based budgeting - that calls for each school's budget to be determined by how many students it has. Some schools will see their budgets cut by as much as $1 million.

Lewis said the layoffs might affect more senior, higher-paid teachers.

"We're not gonna lose people because they cost too much," said Lewis. "So don't go thinking you're gonna hire a first-year teacher because they're less expensive."

If senior teachers are heavily affected, Lewis said the union would file grievances.

When asked if she thought parents should keep their kids out of CPS, she was non-committal, saying, "I encourage parents to do what is best for their families."

Lewis criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel for not being in town as layoffs were announced. The mayor and his family left for Israel Friday to celebrate his daughter Leah's bat mitzvah. Emanuel was on a Utah ski trip in March when the district announced its initial plan to close schools.

The Chicago Teachers Union agreement with CPS allows tenured teachers with excellent or superior performance ratings to follow students to their welcoming schools, the district said. They will be notified of available positions in July.

Of the 1,005 teachers at closing schools, 585 of them are tenured with a superior/excellent rating, meaning they are able to follow their students to welcoming schools that have vacancies, a CPS spokeswoman said.

But it's possible more layoffs could occur. Any teachers who are not chosen to fill vacancies will be made substitute teachers, with full pay and benefits for five months. If they have not gotten full-time jobs within CPS at the end of that time, they will be put in a pool of teachers with reduced pay and benefits for another five months. If their situation remains the same, they would be laid off.

On Friday, CPS also announced $52 million in cuts from its central office, including 98 positions.

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