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Chicago to close 54 public schools due to crushing $1 billion deficit

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The City of Chicago has announced that is will be closing 54 public schools on account of a whopping $1 billion education deficit. A formal announcement of the schools to be closed will be made public by the end of this month. Parents have already started receiving notices in the mail if their children's schools will be shuttered.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The announcement of the closures has brought outrage upon some city officials.

President of the Chicago Teachers Union Karen Lewis says that the school closings portend "utter chaos . This city cannot destroy that many schools," Lewis said in a statement. "These actions will put our students' safety and academics at risk and will further destabilize our neighborhoods."

Lewis denounced Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the city schools' disarray, pronouncing him "the murder mayor . He is murdering public services (and) murdering our ability to maintain public sector jobs, and now he has set his sights on our public schools," she said.

"But we have news for him: We don't intend to die. This is not Detroit," she added.
 
Officials admit that the announcement was a painful necessity, given the current condition of the facilities. Chicago School District Chief Executive Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the district is 20 percent under capacity, i.e. almost 100,000 students, leaving many schools half-empty. The district will save $500 million to $800 million for each school that is closed, Byrd-Bennett said in community forums and news interviews leading up to the announcement.

"We've got at least two decades of decay, of children not being able to receive the kind of education that they should," Byrd-Bennett told NBC 5 of Chicago.

The union has scheduled a citywide save-the-schools rally for next week.

In the meantime, Mayor Emanuel said in a statement that Chicago couldn't afford to put off difficult decisions any longer.

"By consolidating these schools, CPS can focus on safely getting every child into a better performing school. Like school systems in New York and Philadelphia where schools are being closed, Chicago must make tough choices," he said. "Our children's futures are bright and consolidating schools is the best way to make sure all of our city's students get the resources they need to learn and succeed."

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