CPS pink slips another 249 staffers, blaming enrollment plunge

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About 250 Chicago Public Schools staffers were pink-slipped on Monday after the district made its official count taken on the 20th day of school. | Sun-Times file photo

Blaming a sharp enrollment decline,Chicago Public Schools pink-slipped about 250 stafferson Monday after thedistrict madeits official count taken on the 20th day of school,a bit lower than last week’s estimates of 300.

Some 140 teachers and 109more school-based workers, such as classroomaides,were told Monday they weren’t needed at their schools, which sawenrollment declines.It’s not yet clear how charterschool staffing hasbeen affected.

CPS believes it has lost about 3.5 percent of its enrollment since last fall,when it took its official count as the state requires, on the 20th day of school. That’s about 13,000 students.

A preliminary count taken two weeks ago indicated that the district should brace itself to lose about 13,000 students, more than twice the 4,600 student decline district demographers had predicted in July.

CPS has pointed to a bump last year in enrollment of about 2,200 kids between 10th and 20th day counts. And pre-kindergarten numbers and enrollment in alternative schools still need to be finalized.Monday’sstudent counts determine a school’s final budget and whether it needs to add teachers or let them go.

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Charter schools,many of which start weeks before CPS, also receivepayments based onthe 20th day count.

“Once again, principals have done admirable work in helping to protect classrooms and students’ progress, and we’re grateful for the work they did planning and preparing for the year,” spokeswoman Emily Bittner said in a statement. “The district will continue to work with principals individually to ensure that they have the resources they need to offer the education Chicago students deserve.”

TheChicago Teachers Union,which plans to walk off the job next Tuesday if a contract isn’t finalized beforethen, was upset that 187 of its members were laid off.

“Today’s cuts are the latest round of attacks on children and are pushing educators closer to Chicago’s third school strikein four years,” spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin wrote in a press release. “School budgets are down more than 6 percent this year — a loss of $184 million — on top of years of sacrifice by our students, educators and schools, amounting to more than $2 billion in givebacks . . . and the children are paying the cost. This is unacceptable and no way to run a world-class school district.”

“The mayor and the CPS CEO are choosing to take even more from the students, educators and families who have already sacrificed so much,” she said.

CPSdidn’t release a school-by-school list Monday, and the union hadn’t yet completed its own analysis, but CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey said thatA.N. Pritzker School let go of their librarian, who taught students,so“losing her is going to require reprogramming the entire school.”

He said that Claypool, who formerly headedthe Chicago Park District, “doesn’trealize you can’t cutstudentsthe same way you cut a tree.”

“We’re talking about studentsin our toughest schools whose counselors are beingcut and social workers are being cut,” he said. “That’snotsomething I can swallow without choking on it.”

More than 500 teachers and 500 more otherstafferswere let go over the summer when CPS projected its 2017 enrollment, though manywere said to have been hired back in other schools.

CPS pointed to362 openings for teachers and 266 morevacancies for support personnel, saying that even morejobs will open up atschoolswhose budgets now increase.

District officials said they wouldn’t release individual school layoffs until every affected employee had been notified. Finalenrollment counts also will takeseveralmore daystotally.

About 195 CPS-run schools gained enrollment, picking up about$20 million in funding, but306 lost it, losing $44.9 million, the district has said.

CPS distributed $12.5 million in extra program support to schools that have already cut so many teachers they can no longer offer a full slate of courses or whose losses were much steeper than expected. Appeals for a slice of this money are ongoing.

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