CPS executive salaries continue to go through the roof, while Duncan covers up the increasing cost of charter school administration

For this high stakes testing season, a question: When is a lawyer (er, “attorney”) not a lawyer (er, attorney)?

Answer: When the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools “cuts” the administrative budget by renaming the highest paid people in his ever expanding patronage bureaucracy.

At that point, lawyers become “Senior Managers” and “Managers.”

In June 2006, the CPS budget was approved amid protests against cuts of $26.5 million in special education services.

By November 2006, CPS CEO Arne Duncan had renamed most major executive jobs at CPS. Duncan told the press in June and July 2006 that he had trimmed administration to the bone (amid a flurry of the usual talking points). Yet not one of the school system’s highest paid administrators lost a job, and the number at the very top (salaries at or above $100,000 per year) had expanded again.

Despite annual claims that his administration is cutting administrative costs at the Chicago Public Schools, the third largest public school system in the United States, Chicago schools Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Arne Duncan has presided over the greatest expansion in the highest paid executive positions in the history of CPS since he was appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley in July 2001. The overall cost of administrators working in the Chicago Public Schools has continued to increase every year since 2001. Current trends show there is no end in sight.

Between the 2001-2002 school year (the first when Duncan served as CEO) and the 2006-2007 school year, the number of administrators being paid $100,000 or more in salary increased to 967 from 402, an increase of 140 percent.

During the same period of time, the number of filled positions in the CPS budget has decreased from 51,610 to 46,848, a decline in distinct position number positions of nine percent [see chart].

By the 2006-2007 school year, the cost in salaries alone for persons being paid $100,000 or more per year by CPS was $112 million, or five percent of the total budget for employee salaries. The total cost of all employee salaries this year is $2.188 billion. The rest of the Board’s $5 billion annual budget goes to contracts and consultants, debt service, and a variety of other expenses.

During the 2001-2002 school year, the cost of employees being paid salaries of $100,000 or more by CPS was a total of $43.5 million. At that time, this was two percent of the total budget for employee salaries of $2.033 billion.

[Salary amounts used in this article do not include fringe benefits, but represent only CPS salary. During the years of the Duncan administration, the creation of more than 40 charter schools has eliminated hundreds of teaching and administrative positions from the general CPS budget and placed them into the budget of charter schools. CPS will not reveal the individual costs of charter school teachers and administrators.].

Additionally, the number of administrators and executives hired from outside the system without either teaching or administrative licenses is also at an all-time high. As of January 5, 2007, Chicago’s schools had 967 employees who were being paid $100,000 or more per year. These included principals and assistant principals, as well as administrators who job titles have continued to change as the Duncan administration attempts to make it difficult for the public to scrutinize administrative salaries. For the first time in CPS history, dozens of assistant principals working in local schools are being paid $100,000 or more in Chicago.

The major of CPS principals at now being paid $100,000 or more.

And an ever-expanding corps of senior executives with titles ranging from “Manager” and “Chief of Staff” to “Team Leader” are also earning salaries in excess of $100,000 per year at this time in CPS.

An ongoing study of CPS administrative and executive salaries has revealed the following. All data cited here and in the accompanying charts were compiled using CPS budget documents obtained by Substance under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The group of people being paid salaries in excess of $100,000 this school year includes 195 Assistant Principals and 582 Principals. But not all of the principals in Chicago are listed as “principals” in the Board’s documents, and not all people listed as principals are working in schools as principals. Principals and assistant principals are not included in the charts accompanying this article. A growing cost that is not represented in these pages is the administrative salaries being paid to executives of Chicago’s ever expanding network of charter schools. Although charter schools are paid for out of the CPS operating budget, last year CPS refused to itemize charter school costs, including them instead in the same budget lines that cover contracts ranging from consultants to fencing. Substance has learned that in many cases, executives of charter school operators (such as Michael Milkie, head of the “Nobel Street Charter School Network”) are being paid well over $100,000 per year. Similar salaries are being paid to charter executives at Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS), Aspira, UNO, Perspectives, and the other charter “operators”. According to the CPS way of doing business, a charter holder can operate as many “campuses” as it wishes, provided CPS approves. At the present time, CICS, with nine campuses in operation, is the largest. Noble St., Aspira, UNO, and Perspectives also operate “campuses.” Each “campus” is generally headed by a highly paid principal or other executive, none of whose salaries are disclosed by CPS in its budget documents. At the “Aspira Haugan Middle School Campus” of the Aspira charter schools, for example, there is a “director” who oversees the work of two “principals” — all for a school that opened in 2005-2006 with fewer than 600 students.


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