Chicago to close 54 schools to address $1 billion deficit

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The district plans to invest $233 million into what it calls the “welcoming” schools, or the buildings that students in closed schools will be moving to. Those funds will be used for improvements such as air conditioning, upgraded technology and security and to ensure every school has a library.

District officials said they couldn’t calculate how many teachers will be laid off as a result of the cuts because school leaders will make decisions about their own budgets.

Many teachers and parents expressed anger and frustration at how the news of the closures trickled out, leaving some to agonize over rumor and conjecture.

“In a word, the approach was brutal. It’s certainly not deserved by these parents and these kids,” said Mary Visconti, the director of the Better Boys Foundation, a youth organization in the Lawndale neighborhood.

At Lafayette Elementary, where 95 percent of its 483 students come from low-income families, teacher Rosemary Maurello said the principal read teachers a letter from the district Thursday morning saying the school is among those it plans to close. The letter said a final decision would be made in May after more community meetings are held and budget plans are reviewed.

But Maurello said letters and information packets were already being sent to parents and the district’s message to teachers included a mention of specific plans to move the Lafayette students to another school about 10 blocks away.

“It sounds like a done deal to me,” Maurello said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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