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Chicago schools lay off 950 employees

Enrollment declines and program changes claim the jobs of 350 teachers and 600 support staff.

The Chicago school system has notified about 950 employees — 350 of them teachers — that they’re being laid off.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the layoffs of the teachers and 600 school support staffers are tied to staffing changes at schools that have seen enrollment decline or changed programs. High schools laid off 116 teachers and elementary schools 240.

Meanwhile, the district's operating budget for the coming year, which schools CEO Forrest Claypool has said would be made public Monday, won’t be released yet.

The delay gives the state legislature more time to resolve the state's education funding crisis, a school spokesman says.

None of Illinois’ public schools will get state funding until the governor and general assembly agree on a new formula for distributing it, and they’re still negotiating a solution. The legislature passed a formula aimed at giving more money to poor districts, but Gov. Bruce Rauner changed parts of the bill last week with an amendatory veto.  Districts were supposed to see their first state aid payments later this week.

A district spokesman says  the number of open teaching positions in the school system is greater than the number of teachers being let go.

According to Stacy Davis Gates of the Chicago Teachers Union, 362 classroom aides were let go, along with 221 members of SEIU Local 73, which represents special education aides and security guards.

The district may not be done laying off staff. A final enrollment count will be taken on the 20th day of school, which this year falls on Oct. 2. Schools that don’t meet their enrollment projections will see their budgets drop and could lose more staff then.

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