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Chicago Schools to Cut 1,100 Positions; Half Are Teachers

Chicago school officials said on Thursday that steadily declining enrollment in the city's public schools is forcing them to eliminate more than 1,100 staff positions, nearly half of them teachers.

This marks the fourth round of employee layoffs in five years in the nation's third largest school system, which has undergone a dramatic resizing. Last year, Chicago shut down nearly 50 elementary schools in what was the largest-scale closure of public schools in the nation's history.

Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teachers' Union, called the layoffs "yet another brutal attack on public education" and blamed the latest round of cuts in part on the proliferation of charter schools in the city.

"While the district claims that most of the cuts are due to drops in enrollment, there are an ever-increasing number of charter schools siphoning students out of public schools and contributing to a system of dysfunction and instability that leads parents to seek other options for their children," Lewis said in a statement.

According to Catalyst Chicago, district officials said teacher layoffs would impact about one-third of the city's schools. Other staff positions targeted in the layoffs are nonteaching personnel, such as security guards and clerical staff.

Catalyst Chicago also reports that schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett emphasized that many of the staff who received layoff notices this week would likely be rehired to fill vacancies in other schools that are created by retirements, resignations, and the need to hire more personnel in buildings with growing enrollments.

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