Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chicago's Grand School Closing Cost Scandal

Movers haul books from closed schools to shuttered Von Humboldt Elementary for storage. The amount the district is paying to empty the closed schools is poised to triple.  WBEZ Linda Lutton

Board will vote today to triple its payments to GWS

Back in November of 2012, our CReATE research group began warning that the planned closing of more than 50 Chicago schools would not only fail to produce promised academic gains, but would not achieve the anticipated savings being touted by CPS. Then again in March of this year, we warned that district estimates of savings coming directly from school closings were largely overblown. At the time, these warnings wer ignored by the school board and downplayed in the local media.

But I must admit, we never anticipated the extent to which Rahm, Byrd-Bennett and CPS Liar-In-Chief Becky Carroll would go to mislead the public about the massive costs involved in closing those schools.  Thanks to WBEZ's Linda Lutton (apparently the only reporter who will touch this story), we now learn that pretty much any of this year's costs savings associated with the largest district school closings in history will be erased when the Board votes today to triple its payments to logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions.

This according to WBEZ:
Back in April—even before the vote to close 50 schools—the district signed a contract with logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions to move all the things out of schools. Price tag: $8.9 million...  In September, the district quietly doubled the amount of the contract, to $18.9 million. Chicago Public Schools’ closing czar [ex-Marine Col. Tom Tyrrell] said the reason for the overrun had to do with the volume of stuff movers found in the 43 shuttered buildings they are emptying out...Now, the agenda for Wednesday’s school board meeting shows the board will vote on another increase, this time to  $30.9 million, more than tripling the amount of the original contract with GWS.
This story seems to be too hot for both the Sun-Times and the Trib. In fact, on the eve of the board vote, the Tribune is going with another misleading feel-good story about how smoothly the transition to the "welcoming schools" is going. This despite the fact that only about half of the anticipated students even showed up a their assigned receiving schools.

Expect Rahm's hand-picked school board of head-nodders to go along with today's vote. We can also anticipate strong opposition coming from the City Council's Progressive Caucus members who should argue against any further payments to GWS.

Also see Lutton's WBEZ piece, "What happened to all the 'stuff' in Chicago's closed schools?"


The Sun-Times reports that a 15-year-old girl was found beaten and sexually assaulted near a Safe Passage Route.
 Chicago Police say the attack happened about 6 a.m., just 30 minutes before Safe Passage Route workers began patrolling Fullerton Avenue near Long. The girl was “struck about the head and dragged into the rear yard of a nearby residence and sexually assaulted,” Chicago Police said in an emailed community alert seeking information about the assault... Just before the assault, the teen was heading to catch the Fullerton bus, which ferries her to the high school she attends outside the neighborhood, Chicago Police said. 

The Chicago Teachers Union Tuesday, issued a statement to alert Chicago residents and public school parents about efforts by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to open 21 new private charter schools just a week after the mayor also blocked a proposal for an elected school board referendum.
"The confusion, misdirection and mixed signals are ongoing symptoms of the 'Chaos on Clark Street,'" [CTU V.P. Jesse] Sharkey said. "We are also mindful that these violations of the public’s trust and refusal to serve the actual needs of students come just a week after maneuvers by the mayor's office to block a popular referendum for an elected representative school board from the 2014 ballot.”

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