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Nearly 1,200 Chicago teachers and other unionized staff received layoff notices Thursday because of declining enrollment, the city's schools chief announced.

Pink slips went out to 550 teachers and 600 other members of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Public schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the staff reductions "are driven by declining student enrollment at each of the affected schools," which were not immediately identified.

School officials told the Chicago Tribune that the teachers can reapply for the projected 1,780 vacancies to be filled in other schools and that in past reductions 60% have been rehired.

The layoffs are in addition to the 76 teachers and 68 support staffers who lost their jobs at three underperforming schools in the spring, the Chicago Sun-Times notes.

Union president Karen Lewis assailed Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the board of education, calling the job cuts "yet another brutal attack on public education" and an "example of the continued destruction and decimation of neighborhood schools."

She said 5,000 teachers, aides, librarians, technology coordinators and other staff had been laid off in the past year or so.

Though declining enrollment is blamed, Lewis said, "there are an ever-increasing number of charter schools siphoning students out of public schools and contributing to a system of dysfunction and instability that leads parents to seek other options for their children."

In swipe at the announcement this week that Star Wars creator George Lucas had chosen the city for his personal museum, she asked, "Do we want 'Star Wars' museums or public, neighborhood schools? Do we want presidential libraries or librarians for every child?"

STORY: Chicago to close 61 schools to trim $1B deficit

Thursday's layoffs come two days after an Illinois legislative task force issued a critical report about how the city handled the closings of dozens of schools last year and the wholesale replacement of staff at six other low-performing buildings.

Officials said the closings and cuts were made to help close a $1 billion budget deficit, but critics said the moves disproportionately hit minority communities.

The Illinois General Assembly's Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force claims the closings were ill-planned, harmed students and families and cost taxpayers $263 million.

At the same time, the report questioned why 49 supposedly underused schools were closed but 33 new charter schools were approved.

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