Last day of CPS school year bittersweet for closing schools - Fox 2 News Headlines

Last day of CPS school year bittersweet for closing schools

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago is at the tipping point, as the showdown continues over CPS closings. The final bell will ring for more than half of the public schools scheduled to close on Friday, under CPS' reorganization plan.

The last day of the CPS school year is a bittersweet one for students at 28 schools that will not re-open next year. Overton Elementary School on the South Side is one of those schools.

Angela Ross, chairman of the Local School Council, spoke with Good Day Chicago Wednesday morning. The elementary school is slated to close this year, and Ross voiced the community's concern on their last day.

The last day of school is typically, for most students, a very exciting day. They're closing one chapter of their lives, and entering into a new one. Instead, CPS students came to school Wednesday with tears streaming down their faces. It would be a scary transition for any elementary school kid.

CPS said safety was definitely a priority for all children, and they were developing safety plans for transition inside the classroom and outside through their safe passage programs. It is very important that parent and faculty involvement through this transition help through this entire process.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis renewed her claim that the decision was racist because so many of the closing schools are on the south and west sides.

"When will we address the fact that rich, white people think they know what's in the best interest of children of African Americans and Latinos," Lewis asked, "no matter what the parent's income or education level?"

Lewis didn't mention anyone by name, but clearly she was taking a shot at the advisors Mayor Emanuel has assembled.

CPS Chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett - who is African-American - did not address what Lewis said, but did describe their relationship as cordial.

Protesters gathered outside the spot where Barbara Byrd-Bennett spoke on Tuesday.

SEE: CPS protesters claim budget cuts could leave students without toilet paper

They wanted to highlight the school budget cuts they say will force principals into choosing between teachers and school supplies like toilet paper.

Last Friday, CPS announced it was laying off 850 school employees including 550-teachers.

SEE: 850 teachers, staffers get pink slips at closing, `turnaround` schools

In addition, district officials identified $52 million in central office cuts as it works to tackle its $1 billion budget deficit.

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