'Reinvention' adds expensive new posts... Board approves controversial budget, increases bureaucracy after proclaiming it's reducing bureaucracy...

Less than three weeks after the Chicago Board of Education produced the most controversial Proposed Budget in its history and refused to provide the public with actual copies of the budget for review prior to the annual budget hearings, the seven members of the Board voted unanimously late in the afternoon of August 24, 2011 to approve the budget. The vote came at approximately 4:30 p.m., and was without discussion or debate. Earlier in the day, several people, including two officers of this Chicago Teachers Union (and this reporter) asked the Board members to defer their vote on the budget because of the flawed way in which the budget had been brought to the public.

Typical of the new bureaucracy that now rules over Chicago's public schools, none of the "officers" above (from the Chicago Board of Education meeting of August 24, 2011) has ever taught in a Chicago public school or has any administrative experience in public education in Chicago. Above, Melanie Shaker (Treasurer and Acting Chief Financial Officer), Ginger Ostro (Chief Officer for Grants and Budget), and Alicia Winckler, whose "Office of Human Capital" underwent a "rebranding" during the summer of 2011 and is now called the "Office of Talent Development" (where Winckler serves now as "Chief Talent Development Officer). All three are now being paid in excess of $170,000 per year, two in positions which did not exist prior to the Brizard administration. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.In an irony befitting the situation, the members of the Board at the same time approved an additional expansion of the Brizard Bureaucracy, creating at least three new positions which will each of their holders nearly $200,000 per year. The vote to create the new executive positions, all of which are being filled with people who have no Chicago teaching or administrative experience, came five minutes before the Board voted to approve the budget, and about four hours after the novice "Chief Administrative Officer," Tim Cawley, told the Board during a Power Point that the Brizard administration was cutting bureaucracy. As one speaker during the Board meeting (and several during the hearings on the budget) pointed out, the Board is firing custodial workers can claiming it is cutting "administration," while most members of the press do not know enough about the inner workings of the CPS to evaluate the claims of Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard and the new team appointed with the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The seven members of the Board of Education didn't even pretend to have any respect for the huge outpouring of public comment that took place on the three days of hearings (August 10 -12) on the proposed budget.

After speaking to the Board and asking them not to pass the budget which takes away the contractual four percent raises for unionized workers, CTU president Karen Lewis held a brief press session behind the Board chambers and tried to answer questions from a confused group of reporters about the situation regarding the claims by Jean-Claude Brizard that he had offered a "two percent raise" to teachers in elementary schools that would institute a longer (90 minutes) school day. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Comments from two officers of the Chicago Teachers Union and dozens of citizens on the problems with the Proposed Budget were politely ignored. In the back of the room sat Beth Swanson, a former CPS budget chief who is now Mayor Rahm Emanuel's liaison with the Chicago Board of Education, taking notes.

Even in the face of the difficulties created by the Board in not printing the budget, the largest number of people in history turned out to comment on the CPS Proposed Budget. Speakers ranged from Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who made her comments at Lane Tech High School on August 10, to children and parents from across the city. Only one member of the Board of Education even bothered to attend the public hearings, and the Board members didn't even have the transcripts of the hearings available on the Board's website on August 24 when they voted on the budget. Even the most cynical Board under Jean-Claude Brizard's predecessors (Ron Huberman and Arne Duncan) produced the transcript from the hearings and claimed to have read them before they voted on the budget. Rahm Emanuel's appointees don't even pretend. Additionally, within hours after the Board's vote, the comments which the Board had solicited on its crumbling Website had been shelved. Anyone going to the comments section on the budget received the following "File Not Found" message:

500 Servlet Exception [show] /home/ideascale/ideascale/servers/resin3/resin-pro-3.1.7a//conf/app-default.xml:277: /home/ideascale/ideascale/servers/resin3/resin-pro-3.1.7a/webapps/a/WEB-INF/web.xml

(Too many open files)

After promising reporters that they would provide a list of all the appointments made by Brizard on August 24, CPS Office of Communications provided a press release later in the day providing information on just two of them — the "Chief Portfolio Officer" and the "Chief Family Engagement Officer." The two positions did not exist prior to the upcoming budget year. CPS has also changed the names of the "areas" to "networks" and changed the names of the Chief Area Officers to "Chiefs of Schools." Although CPS appointed additional network officers on August 24, nothing was reported by the Office of Communications.

The CPS press release follows:

CPS Names Key Appointments

Chief Portfolio Officer and Chief Family and Community Engagement Officer to lead

offices critical to support student achievement in the classroom

CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Jean-Claude Brizard today named two new appointments: Jamiko Rose as Chief Family and Community Engagement Officer and Oliver Sicat as Chief Portfolio Officer. The new hires complete the new streamlined leadership team designed to support school leadership and improve student achievement. The Chicago Board of Education confirmed both appointments at today’s board meeting.

“Last month, I announced a multi-step reorganization of the structure of central office for the purpose of ensuring that services are grouped together strategically under skilled leaders, rather than fragmented in many different departments,” said CEO Brizard. “I am pleased to add Jamiko and Oliver to my team as their expertise in these roles will be critical in our mission to ensure our students graduate college and career ready.”

The Chief Family and Engagement Officer and Chief Portfolio Officer will have critical roles in the reinvention of CPS. The newly created positions will be accountable for results in two core areas: community and family engagement and the management of long-term district planning needed to deliver lasting change. Since becoming CEO in May, Jean-Claude Brizard stressed the importance of engaging CPS families and communities in both short and long term goals as a critical tool in achieving student success. The role of the Chief Family and Engagement Officer was created in part because of feedback CEO Brizard received from parents and community members during his districtwide listening tour about the previous fragmented structure of CPS. Brizard recognized the need for an office that will make it easier for parents and communities to play a more active role. She will be responsible for working with LSCs, parent and community group engagement, external partnerships, among other things.

“I am excited and honored to serve in a role that will allow me to actively engage with parents and community members on matters that are vital to our students’ future. I look forward to working with the new leadership team to increase student success in the classroom,” said Jamiko Rose, newly appointed Chief Family and Engagement Officer.

Chicago Teachers Union Recording Secretary Michael Brunson also asked the Board to delay passage of the budget until irregularities were worked out. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The new Chief Portfolio Officer will help ensure that high quality school options for children are available throughout the city. The position will also be responsible for developing a long-term vision for the district that aligns with the leadership’s goals. Some of his responsibilities will include demographic projections, a 10-year Strategic School Options Plan, managing initiatives aimed at bringing high-quality education options into neighborhoods throughout Chicago and management of partners (Charter Networks, etc.).

“I believe that CEO Brizard and his team are going to make progressive decisions in the best interest of our students. I am honored to be a part of their team in helping make a positive multigenerational change for the students and families of Chicago,” said Oliver Sicat, newly appointed Chief Portfolio Officer.

Below are the bios of the new officers:

Oliver Sicat - Oliver is currently the founding principal of UIC College Prep - Noble Street Charter School since 2008. In 2011, the first year their juniors took the ACT exam, UIC College Prep became the highest performing non-selective school in Chicago. Sicat was a math teacher in Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago. Oliver was named Teacher of the Year-Boston 2006, and in 2001 founded a successful and nationally recognized non-profit organization, Emagine, to help under-resourced students successfully prepare and enroll into college. He holds a B.S from the University of Southern California and an Ed.M from Harvard.

Substance reporter George Schmidt (above at microphone) asked the Board to postpone the vote on the budget until the Board could provide the public with a truthful version of the budget and hold additional public hearings. Substance photo by David Stone. Jamiko Rose - Jamiko currently serves as Executive Director of ONE, a 37-year-old community-based organization that addresses public policies related to education, affordable housing, workforce development, criminal justice reform, economic development, immigrant rights, and nursing home reform. Ms. Rose has been with ONE for eight years and began her relationship with the organization as a volunteer, moving up the ranks to organizer, senior organizer, and associate director before becoming the executive director of the organization in 2007. During her tenure she grew the organization’s budget from $750,000 to $2.6 million. ONE has trained hundreds of grassroots community-based leaders, established a multimillion dollar transitional jobs program, created and preserved over a thousand units of affordable housing, secured millions of dollars for youth jobs and community safety, established a city-funded jobs training program, and created a loan program so that permanent residents can become citizens, which has since become a national model. Ms. Rose was a recipient of a 35 under 35 Community Leaders Award, a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow in 2009, and is currently a Chicago Community Trust Fellow. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.

The Chicago Public Schools serves approximately 405,000 students in more than 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school system.


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