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Chicago to lay off 700 teachers and support staff as district sets out to fill 1,900 new positions

Student writing in a notebook next to a laptop computer. Belo Rio Studio/Unsplash

Chicago Public Schools will lay off 286 teachers and 417 support staff because of declining enrollment and programmatic changes, the district said Thursday. But it is also ramping up hiring in other areas, looking to fill 1,900 positions by fall.

All recruitment and hiring will take place virtually, the district said, and laid-off employees will be invited to reapply.

Last year, Chicago Public Schools laid off 220 teachers and nearly 500 support personnel. It rehired more than two-thirds of those educators for open positions at other schools.

“Consistent with previous years, the number of available positions far exceeds the number of impacted staff, and the district will be hosting several virtual hiring events in the coming weeks,” said district spokeswoman Emily Bolton in a statement.

As student enrollment in Chicago has declined over the last decade, the district’s teacher workforce has shrunk, to 21,430 this year compared to more than 25,000 educators in 2009-2010. Next fall’s number, however, represents a slight uptick from the past three years.

This summer, about 30% of the district’s schools are laying off at least one teacher. Roughly 1.3% of the district’s 21,430 educators and just more than 4% of its support staff members are affected.

The district stressed the numbers of laid-off employees do not include social workers and nurses. Following commitments to boost staffing for these positions that came out of contract negotiations with its teachers union, the district added 55 nurses and 44 social workers for the coming school year — a record total of 426 nurses and 536 school social workers districtwide.

The district said almost all affected tenured teachers will receive full pay and benefits through the coming school year, and those without tenure will be offered long-term substitute positions with health benefits.

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