Chicago Public Schools announced on Monday that more than 450 teachers will be laid off, with notices to be sent out the same day.
“As in the past, CPS will offer affected teachers the opportunity to reapply for positions within CPS,” CPS said in a statement. “As CPS works to keep classroom cuts to a minimum, fewer teachers will be impacted this year than any point in the past five years, with 479, or less than 2 percent, of teachers impacted.”
The layoffs include 204 high school teachers and 275 elementary school teachers. The district said the layoff decision was due to a decrease in student enrollment.
News of the job cuts came as a "total shock," one Chicago teacher Allison Valentine told NBC Chicago.
Officials noted that in the past, more than 60 percent of laid-off teachers have been rehired, and the district has 1,450 open positions that must be filled before school starts.
The layoffs were part of CPS' proposed budget for the 2016 fiscal year, which was released Monday and includes $200 million in “painful cuts that CPS announced earlier this summer.”
“This budget reflects the reality of where we are today: facing a squeeze from both ends, in which CPS is receiving less state funding to pay our bills even as our pension obligations swell to nearly $700 million this year,” COS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with our leaders in Springfield to prioritize education funding reform and finally end the inequity that requires Chicago alone to take scarce dollars from the classroom to pay for teacher pensions.”
In addition to the layoffs, the district said it has addressed concerns about changes in school bell times and announced that 34 of the initially impacted schools will return to their original bell schedules.
Forty schools will keep their new bell schedules and eight schools agreed to other changes, officials said.
CPS said it expects to save $5 million, a decrease from the planned $9.2 million, in the transportation changes.
Last week, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis responded to the city's demand that teachers pay 7 percent more towards their pension payments, calling the pay cut "strike worthy."
The teachers union says it was close to a new one year deal, but that all changed last week after Lewis said Mayor Emanuel’s new team took over at Chicago Public Schools.
“Sherriff Claypool has decided just blow things up and show how tough he can be,” Lewis said.
Claypool is pushing for Springfield's help for a bailout, but Governor Bruce Rauner has said no to special deals for Chicago only.
"The district cannot cut its way out of the fiscal crisis and as a result, this budget relies on a partnership with leaders in Springfield to stabilize the district’s finances by ending years of pension inequity and declining state funding," CPS said in a statement.