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CPS To Lay Off Nearly 1,000, Including 356 Teachers

By  Tanveer Ali and Heather Cherone | August 7, 2017 11:19am | Updated on August 7, 2017 2:02pm

THE LOOP — Chicago Public Schools Monday announced plans to lay off 956 employees, including 356 teachers, less than a month before the new school year is set to start.

While schools will get $200 more per student during the 2017-18 school year than the 2016-17 school year, the overall CPS budget will shrink by about $43 million, officials said.

Reductions in the CPS budget come as officials expect enrollment to drop by 8,000 students. Last year, enrollment dropped by more than 13,800 students, data shows.

The expected enrollment for the upcoming school year is 353,014, down from last year's 360,676.

"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," according to a CPS statement. "After all staff have been notified, the district will provide a full school-by-school breakdown of the personnel impacts."

CPS says 240 elementary school teachers and 116 high school teachers will lose their positions as part of the layoffs. Additionally, 134 elementary school support personnel and 466 high school support personnel will be laid off.

Stacy Davis Gates, the legislative and political director for the Chicago Teachers Union, blamed Mayor Rahm Emanuel for what she said was his failure to stand up to Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of the statewide school funding formula.

The CPS plans for the upcoming school year set the stage for the closing of more neighborhood high schools — and the layoffs of African-American and Latino teachers, most of whom are women, Davis Gates said.

CPS says that 60 percent of teachers will get rehired in full-time CPS positions. There are more than 500 teaching vacancies expected for the current year for which these teachers can apply, CPS said.

This year's layoffs are the lowest before school year numbers since 2007, based on CPS data. Layoffs before the school year hit a high ahead of the 2013-14 school year, when 2,239 teachers lost their jobs. That year started with the shuttering of 50 schools.

Last month, CPS unveiled school-by-school budgets for the coming school year, though that relied on about $250 million vetoed by Rauner.

During a normal year, schools would expect to start receiving state funds by the end of this week, and many suburban and Downstate districts start classes next week.

The Illinois House and Senate must now act to either affirm Rauner's changes or reject them. Until the General Assembly acts, schools will get no state funding, threatening the ability of some districts to open on time and remain open the entire school year.

CPS planned to release a districtwide budget Monday, but refrained from doing so to "allow Springfield more time to resolve the statewide education-funding crisis before we ask our board to vote on a budget."

State law sets a deadline of Sept. 1 for CPS to approve an operating budget.

Emanuel has said Chicago schools will open Sept. 5 as scheduled — regardless of what Rauner does.

Schools' final budgets are based on the number of students who attend class on the 20th day of the school year. In 2016, 134 teachers and 103 members of schools' support staffs were laid off in October.