Will CPS steal $30 million from principals and assistant principals? Brizard announces attack on right of school workers to accumulate sick days, continues Big Lie about $400 million 'savings' from last summer, while refusing to hold press conferences where he has to actually answer factual question

Can Jean-Claude Brizard get away with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Chicago's veteran administrators, assistant principals, and principals? It looks like that's what he's going to try, based on a press release that came out from CPS without fanfare on Valentine's Day. According to CPS, Brizard is going to propose a new policy on cashing out sick days that will "save" CPS $30 million by eliminating the benefit for "non union employees..." (See the press release below). The largest group of "non union" workers at CPS who have accumulated large amounts of sick days (and in many cases, vacation days) are principals and assistant principals, who number more than 2,000 in the city's real public schools at the present time.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard at the AUSL Morton school on November 29, 2011. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.(Accumulated sick days are covered by union contracts for CPS teachers and most other workers; Brizard has already proposed taking away that right in the current bargaining sessions, according to informed sources familiar with what CPS has submitted in contract negotiations).

In a deliberately vague press release sent out on Valentine's Day, Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard has announced that he will propose changes in the current CPS sick leave policy at next Wednesday's meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. As has become typical of the Brizard administration, the announcement was made without details, while the CEO continued to refuse to hold regular press conferences to answer additional questions about such things as the current announcement. The policy of allowing CPS workers to cash out accumulated sick leave upon retirement at a certain age was the subject of a biased report published in the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this month.

The new policy, if Brizard actually formulates it, will have to be published in the agenda for the February 22 Board of Education meeting no later than the morning of February 20, 2012. There is no indication that CPS has formulated it other than as a media event yet.

Brizard's February 14 press release also continues to repeat the lie, first floated by Brizard and Mayor Rahm Emanuel last summer, that CPS had reduced "bureauracy" by $400 million, blah, blah blah thanks to Mayor Emanuel's new team.

Actually, since Brizard took office, CPS has expanded central office and regional office bureaucracies (the latest name for the regional/area offices is "networks") and other bureaucracy expenses, leading with the radical increase in pay and perks to Brizard himself.

Brizard's annual salary is $250,000 — more than $40,000 above what Arne Duncan was paid as CEO before he left Chicago in January 2009 to become U.S. Secretary of Education. Additionally, Brizard stand to draw a bonus for meeting "performance goals" that he has set to make them easy to meet; he also received $35,000 in "relocation expenses".

Every major executive at CPS hired since Rahm Emanuel appointed the new Board of Education in June 2011 is being paid more than the predecessor. Several (such as the "Chief Portfolio Officer," Oliver Sicat) are in bureaucratic jobs that never existed before.

Yet CPS and Chicago's mayor continue to state publicly that they "cut" $400 million in bureaucracy, while avoiding any public press conference where they would be required to answer questions about such claims with specificity.

Brizard is doing the same thing a week before the Board meeting with the following press release:


For more information contact:. CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620

Fax: 773-553-1622

Website: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. February 14, 2012

Chicago Public Schools plans to present a revised sick day policy for non-union employees designed to end a decades-old practice that has cost the District an average of $37 million each year in payouts for unused sick days. The District expects to present the new plan to the Board of Education at its monthly board meeting next week, February 22.

The new policy will provide a fair and cost-effective plan focused on employee needs and eliminate a policy that drains precious resources from the system that can instead be invested in our classrooms. The current policy allows employees to carryover and accrue 325 unused sick days, which often results in large cash payouts to departing and retiring employees.

“This is one in a series of steps we have taken since my administration started last May to put students first in all that we do by eliminating wasteful spending and policies that have diverted resources away from the classroom,” said CPS CEO Jean Claude Brizard. “We intend to present a comprehensive policy to the Board that will do away with generous payouts that we simply can no longer afford so that we can invest more dollars to boost student achievement.”

Last year CPS eliminated $400 million in non-classroom spending from its current budget that was reinvested back into our schools.

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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