CPS announces school closing layoffs

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CPS today gave pink slips to 855 teachers, paraprofessional, teaching assistants, lunch ladies and bus aides who worked at either closing schools or those being turned around, a process in which all staff are replaced in hopes of spurring improvement.

Still more such teacher layoffs as a result of school actions are likely going to happen in about a month.

In May, the Board of Education approved the closing of 49 elementary schools and one tiny high school, and the turnaround of five schools.

According to CPS, 1,005 teachers worked in the closing schools. Of those, 420 were laid off on Friday.  The 420 were either probationary teachers or teachers with satisfactory or unsatisfactory performance reviews.

Teachers with excellent or superior reviews are eligible to follow their students if the “welcoming” schools have  positions for them. These teachers will learn in mid-July whether there are available positions.

Many welcoming school principals say they will be able to work small groups of new students into existing classes without exceeding  CPS class-size limits.  and, therefore, won’t need additional teachers. For example, Principal Minnie Watson at DePriest Elementary expects to get 135 students from Emmet School’s closing but will need only three of their four teachers.

One way she will limit the number of new teachers is by letting her small primary-grade classes grow a bit. For example, DePriest  now has 18 students in 2nd grade. Next year, it will have 24.

“It is still below average,” she notes. “I believe in smaller class sizes. I use my discretionary money for it.”

Teachers who do not follow their students, as well as others  who got pink slips today, will have two choices. They can work as substitute teachers for up to a year, receiving their previous pay and benefits for the first five months. Or, they can resign and receive three months’ salary.

The 124 teachers and 67 clerks, bus aides and paraprofessionals being laid off at turnaround schools can reapply for their jobs. According to the teacher’s contract, the teachers will be allowed to go into the reassigned teacher pool.  

 

CPS officials said that 60 percent of laid off teachers typically find jobs within the system.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said she thought the announcement was premature, considering school principals are still figuring out what positions they need. 
“This announcement comes, as far as I’m concerned, to try and spread fear and panic and chaos on a Friday afternoon,” she said.
Lewis criticized the timing of the announcement, which came when Mayor Rahm Emanuel was out of town.
Lewis added that the cuts to bus aides did not make sense. “The students still need busing,” she said.

 

Also on Friday, CPS reported on what city agencies are doing to prepare for the transition of more than 13,000 students to new schools next year. Among other things, city departments are doing massive cleanups along routes that students are expected to walk. This is what they said they have done: towed more than 200 abandoned vehicles, removed 1,100 graffiti posts; trimmed 1,300 trees; mowed 1,400 lots; repaired 101 broken alley lights; fixed 722 street lights; completed more than 2,100 rodent abatements;  identified 478 vacant buildings and “addressed” more than half of those vacant buildings.