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CPS school closures

The Chicago Public Schools announced plans to close a record number of school facilities as part of a plan to reduce their budget shortfall. This plan has angered many.

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Chicago Public Schools officials today released maps of routes where security will be provided for the thousands of children going to news schools this year.

The so-called “safe passage” routes are designed to smoothly shift students from 47 schools being closed this year to nearby schools. (Click HERE to see maps.)

Parents have voiced concern about children crossing rival gang territories and passing empty buildings and vacant lots. Some of them have complained that CPS has been late releasing the maps.

Training for safe passage workers, originally targeted by CPS for this week, is now set to begin next Thursday.

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A “Safe Passage” sign on Central Avenue north of Fulton Street near Ellington Elementary Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. (Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune)

Citing a $1 billion budget deficit, Chicago Public Schools will lay off more than 2,000 employees, more than a 1,000 of them teachers, the district said Thursday night.

About half of the 1,036 teachers being let go are tenured.

The latest layoffs, which also include 1,077 school staff, are in addition to 855 employees—420 of them teachers–who were laid off last month as a result of the district’s decision to close 49 elementary schools and a high school program.

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(Tribune illustration)

Tears, protests fill emotional last day for some CPS schools

Chicago Public Schools released more details today on staff cuts coming this year from the closing of 49 elementary schools and a high school program.

Altogether, 663 employees, including teachers, teaching assistants and bus aides were notified today that they don’t qualify to follow students to welcoming schools.

There will be more cuts ahead. While up to 600 teachers rated highly still qualify to move with students from closing schools to receiving schools under the teacher union’s contract, it is unknown how many slot are open to them. As principals at those receiving schools begin finalizing staffing plans for next year, those teachers will be informed if there is an open position for them.

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(Tribune illustration)

After hearing from aldermen, angry parents and community members in a meeting interrupted several times by protesters, the Chicago Board of Education today approved a plan to close 49 elementary schools and one high school program.

The board voted 4-2 to close Von Humboldt Elementary, then unanimously approved the rest of the closings in a single vote.

Before that, the board voted 6-0 to approve a last-minute recommendation by the district to spare four elementary schools: Manierre Elementary on the Near North Side, Mahalia Jackson and Garvey on the South Side and Ericson on the West Side.

After more than two hours of public comments, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and board members defended the plan to close the highest number of schools the city has ever shut down in a single year.

“We can no longer embrace the status quo because the status quo is not working for all Chicago school children,” Byrd-Bennett said before the vote was taken. “It is imperative that you take the difficult decision but essential steps.”

The district says it needs to close schools to address a looming $1 billion deficit and declining enrollment.

Board President David Vitale, in his remarks before the vote, said that while closing schools is difficult “ultimately it is our responsibility to choose.”

“Today’s reality requires change,” he said.

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CPS board president David Vitale and other board members listen to speakers. (José Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

A new report says four Chicago Public Schools are being pulled off the proposed closings list. It comes just in time for the school board vote Wednesday.

The Chicago Teachers Union and several community groups are planning a rally and march in the Loop this afternoon to protest the planned closing of 53 public schools.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis reacts to the Chicago Public School closures during a phone interview on the morning news, and defends her comment against Mayor Rahm Emanuel. (WGN-TV)

After months of suspense and anxiety, Chicago school officials announced Thursday that they planned to close 61 school buildings, nearly 13 percent of the total number of schools in the district in what shapes up to be one of the largest mass school shutdowns in U.S. history.

In addition, another six low performing schools will get complete staff turnovers, but the facilities will remain open.

Prodded by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, school officials argue that a dramatic shakeout of district resources is necessitated by declining enrollment, shifting demographics and a huge, punishing budget deficit on the horizon. “We have resources that are spread much too thin,” said Todd Babbitz, the district’s chief transformation officer.

But for many parents and children, the announcement means only that they will be displaced from familiar neighborhood schools and much longer—and scarier–walks to class over busy streets that crisscross through competing gang territories. District officials said the changes would affect 30,000 students.

Click here for the list of schools

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(Photo by José M. Osorio/ Chicago Tribune)

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Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. (Antonio Perez / Tribune Photo)

After months of hearings and debate, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration is ready to announce plans to close about 50 elementary schools, sources said, a number that quickly drew fire from aldermen and community leaders in the mostly African American neighborhoods that will be hardest hit.

“Rahm Emanuel, I’ve been a supporter of yours since Day 1, but you’ve done us wrong this time,” said Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th. “He’s forgetting about the people who helped put him in office.”

An announcement on school closings is expected Thursday.

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