CHICAGO (AP) — More than 200 administrative employees with Chicago Public Schools are being laid off and another 180 already-vacant positions will be closed, changes that officials on Friday said will help save the nation's third-largest district $45.1 million a year as it grapples with deep financial problems.
The school district, as of August, had 1,821 positions that were classified as administrative. The 227 layoffs are in the central office and officials say 57 of the workers affected will be eligible to reapply for 35 jobs. After the changes, the district will have cut 433 central office jobs overall since August through layoffs or closings of positions.
"There's no doubt that these cuts are painful," schools CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement Friday. "However, with limited resources and a budget crisis not just this year but into the foreseeable future, we had no choice."
The changes will affect the district's purchasing, law, information technology, facilities and payroll departments as well as its office for special education services, district officials said. They come at a difficult time for the district, which has roughly 400,000 students and faces a $1.1 billion budget deficit and the potential of midyear teacher layoffs.
Tough contract negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union, which went on strike in 2012, are ongoing. Earlier this week, top Illinois Republicans called for a state takeover of the district because of the fiscal crisis, a plan Democrats and Chicago school officials blasted.
Claypool continued his criticism of the state's school funding formula, saying Friday that it's unfair to CPS. Attempts to get legislative help for the budget crisis have faltered.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he wants to "protect the classrooms" from such cuts, but the teachers' union said layoffs, even if they don't involve teachers, are a step in the wrong direction.