CHICAGO, June 15 (UPI) -- About 850 teachers and staff at Chicago Public Schools were laid off as 48 Chicago schools are set to close this month, officials said.
Among those laid off are teachers, some of whom were tenured, paraprofessionals, bus aides and part-timers, all of whom were informed about the layoffs Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Some teachers and staff retained their employment and will be allowed to move with their children to the schools where they're being incorporated.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the school district's chief executive officer, said students will benefit from the school closures because funds that were being directed to their former schools will be redistributed among those still open.
The consolidated schools "will give thousands of children this fall an opportunity to access a safe, higher-quality, 21st-century education with all of the investments that parents, principals, teachers and we agree children need for a bright future such as a library, safe passage, AC, access to updated technologies, science, computer and media labs, all of which will be made possible by redirecting resources from these underutilized schools as part of the process we created in partnership with the [Chicago Teachers Union] in our joint contract agreement."
However, CTU president Karen Lewis said the layoffs were "premature."
"If children need busing, how are you laying off bus aides? They're going to still need busing to get to the next place they go. The children haven't disappeared. Or are you going to have 45 kids in a class?" Lewis said. "They decided to make this announcement before the current school year is out, before anyone knows how many students will return to CPS next year and how many of our students from closing campuses will actually enroll in these so-called 'welcoming schools.' And at a time when principals have just been given partial budgets, they haven't been given their entire budgets, so this announcement comes, as far as I'm concerned, to try to spread fear and panic and chaos on a Friday night."
Meanwhile, the CTU is worried about its membership this fall as so many teachers have been laid off and substantial budget cuts at other schools, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"The one thing that is clear is that there are big cuts," said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. "What we're seeing now could be layoffs on the order of 1,000 to 2,000 teachers."