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Amid Job Cuts, CPS Looking At Moving Gym, Music, Art Classes Online

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Mike Puccinelli Mike Puccinelli
Mike Puccinelli serves as a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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(CBS) – More than 60 Chicago public schools offer online classes. But now, in the wake of massive job cuts in the district, some parents and teachers are crying foul.

They’ve concerned expanding online could leave even more teachers out of a job, CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports.

Gym, music and art — classroom staples for generations — now could be moving to cyberspace.

“There are a couple of schools that have been talking about it. We’re taking a look into it,” says Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

While CPS looks into it, school officials say for five years some students have been taking those classes online. Parents, though, were surprised to learn of the program.

“That’s probably a way to save money. But I would hate to see that happen,” parent Candice Poblador says.

Recently laid-off art qualified teacher Patrick Gant says what’s bad for teachers is even worse for students.

“That’s impossible. Kids need hands-on experiences,” he says. “Especially with gym — that’s ridiculous.”

And he and many other teachers at a jobs fair for laid-off teachers suspect it’s all about the bottom line.

“The whole philosophy is children first. But I believe the budget has come first and that’s taken its toll on our students,” former physical education teacher Christine Kijowski says.

But Byrd-Bennett says it’s likely that online offerings will expand.

“It’s the way in which blended learning and teaching is going for the 21st century across the country,” she says.

School officials say all online courses are taught by a state-certified “virtual teacher.” Art students email or scan their work to teachers. Gym students have a mentor who works with them as they complete a fitness log.

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