Chicago Archdiocese to Make Staff Cuts, Close Five Schools

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According to an article from the Chicago Sun-Times, the Archdiocese of Chicago has announced that it will make some major changes to its administration and its Catholic school system, specifically eliminating 75 positions and either closing or consolidating five schools in the city. The announcement, which comes amid the cardinal's trip to the Vatican to participate in the selection of a new Pope, was made through a letter written by Cardinal Francis George to the archdiocese's parishioners.

Here are some facts and details about the announcement and what it will mean for schools and the archdiocese:

* The Chicago Tribune reports that the decision to downsize is due to financial issues and "unsustainable" deficits.

* By eliminating 75 positions, 55 of which are full-time, at the Pastoral Center, the archdiocese expects to save between $11 million and $13 million each year by fiscal year 2015.

* Administrative operations have created tens of millions of dollars in deficits each year for the church.

* No priests within the parish will lose their assignments, but the decision to make the cuts has reportedly been in the works for the past several months, noted WGN.

* Currently, the archdiocese faces a $20 million budget deficit created in part by the same problems Chicago's public school system is trying to address: too many schools are not self-sufficient.

* Crain's Chicago Business added that the parish's total deficit reached $40 million last year and that the layoffs also will not affect individual schools, associated institutions, Catholic Charities, or affiliated cemeteries.

* The archdiocese also emphasized that it will still provide those who lost their positions with severance and health insurance.

* About five schools will be closed down or consolidated, but the cardinal emphasized that children affected by the changes will receive scholarships to help them attend nearby Catholic schools.

* Furthermore, as laid out in the official letter, the archdiocese wants to cut annual aid to its schools by $10 million next year while also reducing the loans and grants awarded to parishes. This is part of an effort to make the schools more self-sufficient and not as reliable on archdiocese funding.

* Stricter standards for qualifying for loan and grant financial aid will also be put into place in an effort to save $13 million to $15 million each year.

* The cardinal laid out four main goals in its finance-related plan, which includes better fiscal management of operations and the education system, as well as creating a large scholarship fund that will make attending Catholic school more affordable to lower- and middle-income families.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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