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Schools CEO defends planned school closings

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett says she's insulted by allegations of racism from opponents of her plan to close 54 schools.

During a Wednesday school board meeting, Byrd-Bennett said the decision to shutter the schools was made after listening to more than 20,000 people at hearings around the city.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis calls the plan "racist" and "classist."

CPS and Chicago's mayor say the closings will save the district $560 million over 10 years in capital costs and an additional $43 million per year in operating costs. About 30,000 students, most of them black, would be affected.

But Byrd-Bennett, who is black, said she can't understand or accept that the proposals are racist. Her remarks prompted shouts of "They are!" from some attending the meeting.

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