Chicago to shutter dozens of schools to tackle $1 billion deficit

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(CNN) — Chicago school officials said Thursday that they plan to close dozens of schools in a bid to improve education and tackle a $1 billion deficit.

The move will shutter 61 elementary school buildings, including 53 underutilized schools and one program. The cut represents roughly 10% of all such facilities in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which is the country’s third-largest school district.

“Every child in every neighborhood in Chicago deserves access to a high-quality education that prepares them to succeed in life, but for too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed because they are in underutilized, under-resourced schools,” said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, chief executive officer of CPS.

“As a former teacher and a principal, I’ve lived through school closings and I know that this will not be easy, but I also know that in the end this will benefit our children. Like school systems across the country where enrollment has dropped, Chicago must make tough choices and by consolidating these schools we can focus on safely getting every child into a better performing school close to their home,” she said.