Over 1,100 employees of the Chicago Public Schools are getting a pink slip, the school district announced Thursday afternoon.
Five hundred fifty of the layoffs, about half, will be teachers, with an additional 600 being support personnel such as clerks and security guards. The newly announced dismissals are in addition to 147 personnel who lost their jobs in April after their schools were designated for turnaround plans that mandated the entire staff be fired.
With about 30,000 members in the school district’s teacher union, the layoffs affect about 3 percent of the union’s personnel.
Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, said its decision was necessitated by declining enrollment within the district. The layoffs are yet another blow to Chicago’s embattled public school employees, who have seen layoffs of a thousand people or more four times in the last five years.
Nearly 3,000 employees, including 1,500 teachers, were laid off in 2013 due to budget cuts. The Chicago Teachers Union has fought bitterly with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with a 2012 dispute over teacher pay and benefits boiling over into a 7-day teacher strike.
“We’re bitterly disappointed with the announcement,” Chicago Teachers Union vice president Jesse Sharkey told The Daily Caller News Foundation, adding that the layoffs were unfortunate but not terribly surprising. He said the layoffs were the result of “hard choices” forced on the school district by insufficient funding from the state and local government. He also warned that the quality of Chicago’s public schools would be impacted for the worse.
“It really undermines the ability of the school district to deliver a high quality education to students,” Sharkey said.
Chicago’s public schools have a high school graduation rate of slightly above 65 percent. That’s below the national average, but also a huge improvement over years past. A decade ago, the graduation rate was only 44 percent.
All is not lost for the laid off employees, however. The school district will be filling 1,780 vacancies created by ordinary staff turnover, and the newly jobless employees are allowed to apply for these jobs. In the past, 60 percent or more of fired employees have been rehired by the city to fill new posts.
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