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CPS School Closings: What's Next for Parents, Teachers

By DNAinfo Staff on March 21, 2013 7:36pm

 Children walk down the hallway of a Chicago Public School.
Children walk down the hallway of a Chicago Public School.
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CHICAGO — Parents of students affected by the decision to shutter 54 schools have options in choosing their next school, officials say.

While each school targeted for closing has a designated "welcoming" school for displaced students, parents can apply to other schools that have open space, parents were told Thursday.

CPS is reopening the application period this week and students seeking a different school than the "welcoming" institution must submit an application by April 19, according to documents sent home with students.

In a letter to parents, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett included forms to apply to schools other than the designated schools.

It also included an invitation to parents to attend two community meetings and a public hearing for each school targeted for closing. After the hearings, Byrd-Bennett will make the final decision whether to actually close the school, she said.

Byrd-Bennett promised parents "a safe and seamless transition to a higher performing academic environment.

"I have made the commitment that every student and parent will have an option to attend a higher performing school in the fall and that is a commitment you can be sure I will keep," she wrote.

Parents will be able to meet with CPS officials to discuss options and parents can visit schools they are considering, officials said.

In a CPS "talking points" memo, obtained by DNAinfo.com Chicago, principals were instructed to read "verbatim" to teachers: "Though this is difficult for all of us, I know that we will all work hard to make sure that our students make the best possible transition to their new schools. Over the next few months, we will have a special responsibility to help them prepare for and make the change seamless."

As for the future of the teachers at the targeted schools, principals told instructors that tenured teachers rated in the top two performance ratings "may be assigned to those vacant positions based upon seniority and certifications."

Tenured teachers who are "ineligible or unable to be assigned" to the welcoming school will be put into a "reassigned teacher pool" with full salary and benefits for up to five months, the talking points memo says.

So-called PSRPs — paraprofessionals and school-related personnel — who are unable to find new jobs by the start of the next school year will be paid a $1,000 severance and are eligible for up to nine months of health care coverage, according to the memo.