THE LOOP — Chicago Public Schools announced 1,150 new layoffs Thursday, 550 of them teachers.
The school district made the announcement in a "fact sheet" released Thursday. It blamed the layoffs on "enrollment declines at some schools" and said it was the lowest number of end-of-the-school-year teacher layoffs in five years.
At the same time, CPS declared that "due to retirement, resignations, general turnover and schools with increased enrollment, CPS expects to have approximately 1,780 teaching positions vacant and available, which the district expects to fill prior to the beginning of the school year." CPS expects 1,420 of those teaching positions to be full-time.
CPS said laid-off teachers would be permitted to apply for those posts, adding that in the past "60 percent of displaced teachers have historically found positions elsewhere in the district."
The layoffs are in addition to about 150 staffers laid off at three "turnaround" schools this summer.
Last summer, CPS laid off more than 1,000 teachers and more than 1,000 other staffers after closing 50 schools, but CPS now claims 68 percent of those teachers were rehired, 80 percent of those who lost their jobs in the closings.
CTU president Karen Lewis called the layoffs "yet another brutal attack on public education in Chicago," claiming it continues the "decimation" of neighborhood schools since CPS closed nearly 50 elementary schools it deemed underutilized last year.
"This loss of teachers and staff will directly impact the quality of instruction offered in our schools, and is unnecessary and shameful for a district that claims to provide a high-quality education for its students," she said in a statement.
She also questioned the priorities of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the board of education: "Do we want 'Star Wars' museums or public, neighborhood schools? Do we want presidential libraries or librarians for every child?”
The City Council's Progressive Caucus slammed the move, and urged CPS to reconsider the layoffs.
“We as a city and CPS as a system must get our priorities straight. It’s unacceptable that we are laying off teachers in already understaffed schools while at the same time offering tax breaks for billionaires and big corporations. And no CPS teachers should be laid off while taxpayer dollars pour into new, privately-operated charter schools all across the city," said a statement.
The Progressive Caucus consists of aldermen Bob Fioretti (2nd), Leslie Hairston (5th), Roderick Sawyer (6th), Toni Foulkes (15th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Nick Sposato (36th) and John Arena (45th).
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