Chicago Public Schools prepare to welcome students back to school this week, despite the closing of 50 schools and layoffs of 1,500 teachers in response to a projected $1 billion deficit forecast for 2014.
AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File
Three months after Chicago Public Schools' controversial decision to close 50 schools, the new term will begin with sharp cutbacks in staff and more children squeezed into fewer classrooms as the nation's third-largest school system makes due with fewer buildings.
More than 30,000 children on Monday will be directly or indirectly affected by the public school closures - either because they have to go to a new school, or because their school is absorbing students from a shuttered building. The school system will also be coping with 1,581 fewer teachers.
Chicago Public Schools officials have said the cuts to staff and the largest mass school closings in the nation were necessary to help stem a mounting deficit forecast at a record $1 billion in 2014.
The closings have affected mainly Hispanic and African-American neighborhoods. Parents and union leaders have protested, saying more children will have to cross gang territorial lines, leaving them potentially exposed to violence in a city that recorded 506 homicides in 2012.
Chicago Public Schools have hired 1,200 "safe passage" workers to staff school routes to make sure children arrive safely. This summer, there have been two homicides along those safe-school routes.