The Chicago Employment Law Blog

Told You So? Rahm Emanuel Plans to Close Surplus Schools?

You've heard the cliché: "I hate to say I told you so, but ..." That's crap. Everyone loves to say "I told you so." It's fun being right. It's even more fun rubbing everyone's nose in it. With that said, we won't say we told you so, both here and here.

When the Chicago Public Schools agreed to give a universal two percent raise before the teachers' strike, we asked, "where is this coming from?" The school district, city, and especially the state, all are running massive deficits. There is no money. When the Chicago Teachers Union was declared victorious in the strike last month, we again asked, "where is the money coming from?" The agreement called for hundreds of new teachers, longer school days, and pay raised for some of the highest paid teachers in the nation.

We all just got our answer, and it was about what we expected: school closings, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. So, while there may be an agreement to hire new teachers to cover the longer school days, those teachers will be met at the door by the newly laid off. Rahm Emanuel told the City of Chicago that he plans on closing "surplus" schools, as the shift in population and increase in charter schools has led to 400,000 students for 600,000 seats.

City aldermen believe that more than 100 schools will be closed, though the "hit list" is uncertain. If the amount of closed schools is proportional to the overcapacity, that means one third of Chicago Schools face closure in the near future if the Mayor's plan is executed.

Should the school closings happen as expected, teachers can take solace in the fact that they will probably receive advance notice. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires employers with more than 100 employees to provide at least sixty days' notice before implementing mass layoffs. Because layoffs are not the fault of the employees', the laid-off teachers should also be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits.

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