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Beaubien To Lose 3 Teaching Positions, Most Of Any Far NW Side Elementary

 Beaubien Elementary School
Beaubien Elementary School
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Beaubien Elementary School

JEFFERSON PARK — The latest round of Chicago Public Schools budget cuts will hit Beaubien Elementary School the hardest of all grade schools on the Far Northwest Side, according to projections released by Chicago Public Schools officials.

The Jefferson Park school — which accepts students who live in the surrounding neighborhoods as well as those who test into a gifted program — eliminated three teaching positions and one support staff position ot balance its budget, CPS officials announced.

The school saw its budget for the 2016-17 school year cut approximately $397,000 from its budget at the start of the 2015-16 school year, Principal Michelle Ludford told parents in an email.

"Although these continue to be tough times for our school, everyone at Beaubien will continue to provide an outstanding education for all of our students," Ludford said.

A teaching position earmarked for students learning English as a second language was eliminated, Ludford said.

That means students working to learn English will no longer receive extra instruction, although they will be assigned to classes taught by teachers qualified to help them, Ludford said.

In addition, a fourth-grade teaching position and additional classroom was eliminated, Ludford said.

The school will offer three regular classes and one gifted class in first through eighth grades, as well as "special" classes, including music, dance, art, Spanish, library, physical education, technology and additional science classes, Ludford said.

Ludford did not return messages from DNAinfo on Tuesday. It was not clear how the third teaching position or support staff position CPS officials said had been eliminated from Beaubien will impact students.

The cuts hit the Jefferson Park school, 5025 N. Laramie Ave., harder than other schools on the Far Northwest Side because CPS officials expect the school's 2016-17 enrollment to drop 3.6 percent. If accurate, that would be a big change from last year, when the school's enrollment grew 10 percent.

While Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool told reporters that school budgets would "hold the line" and protect classrooms from another round of cuts, schools will get approximately 7 percent less this year for each student in kindergarten through 12th grade as compared with last year, according to the spending plan.

Each school's final budget is determined by CPS based on enrollment on the 20th day of school.

In addition to having fewer students — and getting less money for each pupil — Beaubien also saw its budget cut because the number of students from families considered by federal officials to be below the poverty line "greatly decreased," Ludford said.

Across the district, nearly 1,000 teachers and support staff positions have been eliminated.

No other Far Northwest Side school lost more than one teaching position. The schools that lost a teaching position are:

• Ebinger Elementary School in Edison Park

• Canty Elementary School in Dunning

• Gray Elementary School in Portage Park

• Onahan Elementary School in Norwood Park

• Oriole Park Elementary School in Norwood Park

• Portage Park Elementary School.

Portage Park Elementary School lost three support staff positions, the most of any Far Northwest Side school, while Canty Elementary lost two support positions.

Along with Beaubien, the other schools that lost one support staff position are:

• Norwood Park Elementary School

• Onahan Elementary School in Norwood Park

• Reinberg Elementary School in Portage Park.

One teaching position will be eliminated at Taft High School, CPS officials said. The Norwood Park high school — set to remain the city's most crowded — will see its budget cut by about $500,000, Principal Mark Grishaber said.

While the steady enrollment at Taft and most Far Northwest Side elementary schools meant they escaped severe budget cuts, there was no reprieve for Foreman High School in Portage Park, Schurz High School in Old Irving Park and Steinmetz College Prep High School in Belmont-Cragin.

All three neighborhood high schools are projected to lose an average of 13 percent of their students, according to district officials. Since schools' funding depends on the number of pupils, the high schools are expected to lose more than $2 million this year as compared with last year.

Steinmetz saw 14 teaching positions and one support staff position eliminated; Foreman lost nine teaching positions and 13 support staff positions and seven teaching position and six support staff positions were eliminated at Schurz, according to CPS officials.

CPS officials said the cuts were smaller 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," CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said. "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 district's decision to eliminate the positions, saying it was unnecessary.

The district's latest budget deal could lead to a teachers strike, union president Karen Lewis has warned.

"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."

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