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Nearly 1,000 CPS Teachers, Staff To Get Laid Off

By  Ted Cox and Alisa Hauser | August 5, 2016 12:15pm | Updated on August 8, 2016 9:36am

 Chicago Public Schools teachers were asked to distribute letters to their students addressing the district's ongoing conflict with their union.
Chicago Public Schools teachers were asked to distribute letters to their students addressing the district's ongoing conflict with their union.
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DOWNTOWN — The Chicago Public Schools said Friday that nearly 1,000 teachers and support staff will be laid off.

The layoffs affect 494 teachers, including 302 at high schools and 192 at elementaries. That's about 3 percent of the entire teaching staff. More than half of the terminations, 256, are tenured teachers.

Five percent of the CPS support staff will also be let go, including 352 workers at high schools and 140 at elementary schools.


One of those let go was Tim Meegan, a 12-year veteran of Roosevelt High School's social studies department.

"I poured my heart and soul into that building," he said.

Given Roosevelt's declining enrollment and continuous budget cuts, Meegan sensed his job was on the chopping block and had been interviewing for positions within CPS and out of state all summer. Shortly after he received his pink slip from CPS, Meegan was hired by a school district in Minnesota.

"It's been a huge mix of emotions," he said. "I love my students, I love my community," Meegan said. "I made every effort to fight for my school. I don't feel I've given up the fight, it's just time to move on."

CPS officials said the cuts were fewer than all but one other year in the past six years.

"CPS principals continue to do exemplary work protecting their classrooms so that they can build on the remarkable academic progress their students are making," said CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner. "Today’s staffing changes are part of the normal process of school planning, and there are more vacant positions in the District than staff who will be impacted today.”

But the Chicago Teachers Union ripped the move, saying they were unnecessary.

“CPS continues to inflict damage on our school district by implementing layoffs, cutting special education services and other programs that help students excel," Stephanie Gadlin, spokeswoman for the union, said in a statement. "The gutting of experienced educators and other school employees only weakens schools and puts children at a disadvantage. This is no way to run a 21st century school district."

The union noted that even as Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pushed tax hikes on residents, "he continues to ignore demands that he go after wealthy developers and others who enrich themselves at the public’s expense. If the City and Board exhibited leadership by implementing progressive revenue strategies, such as declaring a TIF surplus and reinstating a corporate head tax, these layoffs could have been avoided.“

Wendy Katten, founder of Raise Your Hand, a parents group, echoed the union's call to use tax-increment financing funds to help balance the CPS budget.

"Year after year, we chip away at educational offerings for students across Chicago stripping them of opportunities for a bright future by cutting staff across the schools," Katten said. "The city should declare a large TIF surplus immediately and cancel wasteful and expensive projects such as the new [selective enrollment high school] planned for the Near North Side, and our state should work on an equitable funding formula so all Chicago students have a chance."

The district said there is 1,000 teaching vacancies for the upcoming year, and the terminated teachers can apply for those jobs. There will be three career fairs, Aug. 10, 11 and 17. About 60 percent of laid off teachers in the past have been rehired full-time, CPS officials said. Another 26 percent of those teachers work as subs in the district.

"The Districts expects the vast majority of teachers to be hired into open positions in other schools, and the District is holding three job fairs to help teachers find open positions and principals find available teachers," officials said in a news release.

The CPS statement acknowledged the cuts will be difficult.

"While these steps are part of the normal annual staff movement between schools, CPS recognizes that our school communities will feel the impact of these changes," CPS said.

The district plans to release the school by school cuts later Friday.
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