The worst fears of Chicago Public School teachers and staffers were confirmed Friday when district officials announced it was laying off some 850 employees.
“Given the historic financial crisis facing our District, next year’s budget will not come without painful decisions, which is why we are making tough choices at central office in order to minimize impacts to our classrooms,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in a statement Friday. “We will continue this work over the next several weeks to further identify reductions to central office spending to help close the District’s $1 billion deficit and make sure that every dollar helps protect precious classroom funding.”
Affected employees are those in the 55 schools closing at the end of the current school year as well as those slated for "turnaround", WBEZ reports. CPS said a portion of those losing their jobs were either probationary teachers or teachers with unsatisfactory performance reviews.
As the news trickled in late Friday, the Chicago Teachers Union had not yet been notified that the layoffs were happening, according to the Sun-Times.
CTU President Karen Lewis met with Byrd-Bennett Friday morning and no mention of layoffs was made, DNAinfo Chicago reports. At a press conference, Lewis said the pink slips were issued "before anyone knows how many students will return to CPS next year and how many students in closing campuses will actually enroll in so-called welcoming schools."
At the closing schools, the cuts are nearly half of the staff which include teachers, paraprofessionals, bus aides and part-time staffers.
"This is a huge proceeding in terms of efforts to stop the CPS, the Board of Education and Mayor Rahm Emanuel from a record number of school closings," the CTU said in a statement Friday.