Tuesday, June 2, 2015

So what's going on at the school board....

In light of the resignation of CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett we see a shuffle at the Board of Education:
Joining the board will be Mark Furlong, retired CEO of BMO Harris Bank and the former CEO of Marshall & Ilsley Bank; the Rev. Michael Garanzini, retiring president of Loyola University Chicago; Dominique Jordan Turner, president and CEO of the Chicago Scholars Foundation, which provides college scholarships to underprivileged students; and Gail Ward, who worked for 35 years in the Chicago Public Schools system, serving as the first principal of Walter Payton College Preparatory High School.

They will replace three school board members who voted in 2013 in favor of a $20.5 million, no-bid contract for north suburban-based SUPES Academy — a former employer of Emanuel's hand-picked CPS CEO, Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Federal authorities have opened an investigation into that contract. Byrd-Bennett resigned Friday as a result of the investigation.

Those who voted for the SUPES deal who are leaving the board are Andrea Zopp, who announced last month she would challenge U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mark Kirk; Deborah Quazzo, an education venture capitalist; and Henry Bienen, former president of Northwestern University.

Also leaving will be Carlos Azcoitia, who was absent from the meeting when the board voted 6-0 to approve the SUPES Academy principal training contract.
Here's a piece of information I didn't know:
In addition to the federal investigation, the city school system faces a budget deficit that CPS officials predict will exceed $1 billion. And Moody's Investors Service last month lowered the school district's debt rating to junk status, which will compound the financial mess by likely increasing borrowing costs.
So where is that money going? How did they get a deficit over $1 billion?

Anyway Fran Spielman and Lauren FitzPatrick take a look at the search for a new CPS boss. How many of us remember Jean-Claude Brizard who came to Chicago to run the schools only to be out in 17 months? Back to the drawing board for Mayor Rahm Emanuel who's at the beginning of his second term as mayor:
Instead of looking for another nationally known educator, Emanuel would be better served by choosing a trusted lieutenant from Chicago who may lack the education pedigree but has a proven track record of reining in government bureaucracies.

Possibilities include chief of staff Forrest Claypool, McPier CEO Lori Healey or Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly.

“What Forrest did at the Park District and the CTA — you need somebody with that ability. Otherwise you’re fooling yourself. There’s too much at stake,” said a mayoral confidant, who asked not to be named.

“It has to be somebody who relishes a challenge and isn’t daunted by the enormity of what CPS faces. It also needs to be somebody loyal to the mayor who understands Chicago and the school system deeply and has a network of relationships they can draw upon to succeed in the job. Ties to the City Council. Ties to the business community, the teachers union and neighborhoods. That’s where the job should go. He’s 0-for-2 on out-of-town educators who had to rely on the likes of [SUPES co-owner] Gary Solomon, a mercenary recruiter who had his own businesses.”

But the Chicago Teachers Union is holding out for another educator — only this time one with strong existing ties to Chicago, so the district might enjoy some stability.

CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey wants the mayor to choose as the sixth CEO since 2010 “someone who’s a veteran educator, someone who has some roots in Chicago, who knows our city, someone who’s been around for a while who’s likely to stick around for a while.

“There’s a number of people I work with every day in the Board of Ed I think are capable,” Sharkey said. “Can we start by not getting someone who’s an investment banker, or who is a known privatizer?”
I think the beginning of this article was hilarious:
WANTED: CEO for nation’s third-largest public school system to replace chief forced out by federal investigation.

CAUTION: Must work for controlling, taskmaster mayor. System on brink of bankruptcy. $1.1 billion shortfall. $9.5 billion pension crisis. Junk bond rating. Strong likelihood that state help will be tied to financial oversight. Expiring teachers contract. Threat of second strike in three years.
What's not hilarious is the idea of a second teacher's strike. Is that really in everyone's best interest? The schools have many serious issues and we certainly need serious people who can help to fix those issues.

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