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Chicago Teacher Layoffs Generate Outrage, Sadness

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(CBS) — Teachers and parents expressed outrage and sadness Friday at the layoffs of nearly 2,000 more school teachers, assistants and others within the Chicago Public Schools system.

School administrators and Mayor Emanuel continued to blame budget problems and the unsettled pension crisis in Springfield for the job cuts.

“I hurt for my kids because I have made friendships with them,” orchestra teacher Sean Diller, who recently received a layoff notice, told reporters at a Friday news conference of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Careers ended with a single phone call.

“When I saw my school’s phone number on my phone, I had a fairly good idea what it was and then when I heard (the principal’s) voice i just shut down,” Carson Elementary School art teacher Ruth Augspurger tells CBS 2’s Chris Martinez.

Earlier, at the news conference, the nearly 10-year veteran became emotional as she described her dedication to the job.

“I decided to stay here and teach for Chicago Public Schools because I believe every child should have the privilege of having the highest level of education,” Augspurger said.

CPS officials said Thursday that 2,113 jobs will be cut because of a $1 billion deficit and a $400 million increase in the district’s annual teacher pension payment. The layoffs include 1,036 teachers, of which 545 are tenured, and 1,077 non-teachers.

The latest CPS layoffs come about a month after more than 800 employees were let go, mostly because of scheduled school closings.

“The pension crisis is no longer around the corner, it has arrived at our schools.  With a billion dollar budget deficit, decreased enrollment and ballooning pension costs, CPS has been forced to make extremely difficult choices to put our school district in the best position to be successful next year and beyond,” Mayor Emanual said in a prepared statement.

Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz says many of the employees laid off Friday could be rehired before the school year begins.

“Historically, 60 percent of teachers laid off at CPS in recent years have been rehired, so there’s hope that once we sort out where people are going, where students show up on the first day we can hire a good number of them,” he tells CBS 2.

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