CHICAGO – Chicago school officials announced Thursday that they planned to close 61 school buildings, nearly 13 percent of the total number of schools in the district, in what shapes up to be one of the largest mass school shutdowns in U.S. history.

In addition, another six low-performing schools will get complete staff turnovers, but the facilities will remain open.

Among the schools being shuttered is Anthony Overton Elementary in Bronzeville.

Irene Robinson, 48, said all five of her children attended Overton. Now six of her grandchildren go there. As she stood outside, waiting to walk her grandchildren home, she became irate at the news of the school’s closing.

“It’s like a death in the family. It’s that sad,” she said. “Overton is a family school. These teachers are like aunties and uncles to my grandkids. We all take care of each other. We’ll never get that again.”

Prodded by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, school officials argue that a dramatic shakeout of district resources is necessitated by declining enrollment, shifting demographics and a huge, punishing budget deficit on the horizon.

But for many parents and children, the announcement means only that they will be displaced from familiar neighborhood schools and much longer — and scarier — walks to class over busy streets that crisscross through competing gang territories.