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Opponents of Chicago school closings plan rally

CHICAGO — Opponents of a plan to close 54 Chicago Public Schools are expected to march through downtown.

The Chicago Teachers Union and other organizers say Wednesday's protest will start at Daley Plaza and proceed to City Hall and the Chicago Board of Education offices.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett say the closings are necessary because too many CPS facilities are half-empty and academically failing. They say shuttering buildings will allow the district to move students to higher quality schools and help trim a $1 billion budget shortfall.

Opponents say the plan disproportionately affects minority students and won't save money. They worry kids will have to cross gang boundaries to get to a new school.

The board of education is expected to vote on the plan in May.

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