Crushed by a $1 billion education budget deficit, Chicago is closing 54 public schools, school district officials announced Thursday.
The official list of closings isn't due to be published until March 31, but parents were learning whether their schools were on the list in letters that were already being sent home with students.
The school district's chief executive, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, said the district is 20 percent under capacity — almost 100,000 students — leaving many schools half-empty. The district will save $500 million to $800 million for each school that is closed, she has said in community forums and news interviews leading up to Thursday's announcement.
"We've got at least two decades of decay, of children not being able to receive the kind of education that they should," Byrd-Bennett told NBC 5 of Chicago.