Union conducting survey on layoffs that could affect schools

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The Chicago Teachers Union is scrambling to figure out whether layoffs being made by CEO Ron Huberman are, in fact, poised to affect students—contrary to promises by the administration that classrooms will be protected from cuts.

What’s in question are a host of positions in the Office of Specialized Services, including dozens of cuts in clinicians, part-time resource teachers and coaches who work directly with disabled children.

The Chicago Teachers Union is scrambling to figure out whether layoffs being made by CEO Ron Huberman are, in fact, poised to affect students—contrary to promises by the administration that classrooms will be protected from cuts.

What’s in question are a host of positions in the Office of Specialized Services, including dozens of cuts in clinicians, part-time resource teachers and coaches who work directly with disabled children.

CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond says that just because people are losing jobs doesn’t automatically signal that students and schools are going to lose services. Some of the part-time positions will be converted to full-time posts, she says; for instance, two part-timers each working 25 to 30 hours a week would be replaced by one person working 40 hours, resulting in some cost savings. In other situations, services provided by coaches might be carried out by a new staffer with a different job title.

Bond insists that students will get the services they need and are entitled to, but adds that “we are trying to get the most bang for our buck.”  It will be difficult to get a clear picture of the number of positions lost until after the second round of layoffs in August and the release of the line-item budget, also in August.

While Bond declined to give specifics, the CTU has verified some limited information, including that 18 special education teachers and 25 special education coaches were among those recently laid off. They also have confirmed that 40 federally-funded employees who work with special-needs children lost their jobs.

Union officials also have heard that the district’s overhaul of the Education to Careers department may  yield net job losses for union members, although the outcome isn’t yet clear.

Frustrated by the lack of specific information, CTU President Marilyn Stewart has launched an official survey of the 1,800 members in citywide positions who may be facing the ax. The union expects the surveys to be completed by July 10. Stewart is also interested in changes in job titles—an issue for the union, since it could lose members when jobs are reclassified as “administrative.”