Chicago Public Schools will lay off 220 teachers, nearly 500 support personnel

Chicago Public Schools announced Friday that the district will lay off 220 teachers and 498 clerks, paraprofessionals, and other support personnel at the end of the school year, in part because of declining enrollment.

This school year enrollment dipped 2.7%  from the previous year, down to 361,000 students.

The district announces layoffs each year as schools adjust for enrollment, the addition or subtraction of programs, and changes in student demographics. Emily Bolton, a spokeswoman, said teachers impacted by the cuts will be invited to apply for jobs elsewhere in the district. CPS is hosting its next job fair June 25.

This past school year, the district rehired 65 percent of teachers that it laid off the previous spring.

Chicago plans to employ a total teacher workforce of 20,949 in the fall, an increase of 1.6% from the current year. But that figure is down from more than 25,000 teachers who worked in Chicago schools a decade ago. In the 2009-10 school year, Chicago employed 25,136 teachers for 409,000 students.

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey called the cuts to teachers’ assistants, clerks and other support professionals “a slap in the face” in a year when Chicago received additional state funding.

“These cuts, contrary to CPS spin, are higher this year than last year, even as CPS funding has continued to improve,” Sharkey said. “It simply makes no sense that as CPS’ budget is growing, it’s providing less funding for staffing and classrooms at schools who need these supports.”

The district said the job cuts represent 1.1% percent of the teacher workforce.

The job cuts affected about a quarter of the city’s schools, according to the district.