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REBRANDING? '...We are excited to introduce the new CPS logo -- While we are making the public announcement later this week, we wanted to share the logo and branding guidelines with you now as you prepare materials for the new school year...'

As if the highest paid executives at America's third largest school system had nothing else to do during the weeks before school opened for the 2014 - 2015 school year, the newly reconfigured "Office of Communications" announced on August 19, 2014 that CPS was "rebranding" itself. This week, they are unveiling a new logo. The introduction of the new CPS logo comes at a time when local schools are still wrestling with reductions in their budgets under what CPS still insists on calling "Student Based Budgeting." But a close examination of the CPS budget indicates that the job of "communications" has escalated from merely misleading the public to major obfuscations of reality. And the "Office of Communications" is a microcosm of the problem, as public information shows.

And while local schools are reduced, the CPS central and network office bureaucracies are being expanded, even as Barbara Byrd Bennett and other CPS officials continue to claim that CPS has "reduced administration."

The CPS "Office of Communications" which issued the "rebranding" notice is a significant example, but there are dozens of others.

"Communications" is the individual and the office that made the announcement about the new logo, but it is just one of several examples of the expanding administrative bureaucracy that CPS is creating, while communicating the opposite.

The only way to expose the nasty hypocrisy is to dig deeply into the Board of Education's own documentary records of its local school and central office staff, rather than simply repeating the claims in the press releases.

And a good point of reference might as well be the last quarter of Arne Duncan, 2008 when Barack Obama announced that Duncan would become U.S. Secretary of Education. Duncan took the job officially in January 2009 at the time of the Obama inauguration.

When Arne Duncan left CPS at the end of 2008, the CPS "Office of Communications" had 14 people working in it. Only one of those people, Celeste Garrett, was paid more than $100,000 per year.

Today, less than six years later, the CPS "Office of Communications" has 18 people working in it, and six of those people are being paid more than $100,000 per year.

Not mentioned in the August 19 "rebranding" announcement to CPS workers is the fact that the person making the announcement reflects a new reconfiguration of the CPS bureaucracy.

"Chief Communications Officer" Ronald Iori, who sent out the internal communication to CPS, was hired in May 2014 at an annual salary of $165,000 per year. While CPS cuts and guts schools, it continues hiring central office staff at large salaries with no public discussion. Iori's most recent experience came working for Kaplan, which provides test prep. Like most of those being hired into administrative positions at the nation's third largest school system, Iori comes from out of town with no teaching or school administrative experience. Since Rahm Emanuel took over the city's schools in May 2011, an MBA has been the de facto qualification for the six-figure jobs at the top of CPS, so Iori is not an exception. And the Board of Education has shown a preference for hiring people from out of town (and usually from other states), because apparently, Board policy deems local Chicago experience to be a barrier to being a Chicago school administrator.

When Arne Duncan left CPS in January 2009, one person in the "Office of Communications" was paid more than $100,000 per year.

As of July 1, 2014, under Barbara Byrd Bennett (the second "Chief Executive Officer" appointed by Rahm Emanuel from outside Illinois), the "Office of Communications" has 18 people working for it. Six were being paid more than $100,000 per year.

According to the current Position File, those six positions (and salaries) are:

Ronald Iori, Chief Communications Officer, $165,000

Joel Hood, Director of Media Affairs, $100,000

Jacqueline Rodgers, Director of Stakeholder Communications, $105,000

Scott Stephens, Director, Strategic Communications, $125,000

Name not listed in Position File, Senior Manager, $107,100

Name not listed in Position File, Chief of Media Relations, $150,000

Meanwhile, in addition to distributing press releases but avoiding press conference, the CPS Communications people have been busy rebranding, as the notice below shows.

ACCORDING TO A MEMO SENT OUT ON AUGUST 19, 2014:

Communications, Internal (sent by jmrodgers2@cps.edu) 8:30 AM to CPS

Dear CPS Colleagues,

We are excited to introduce the new CPS logo -- designed by CPS students to reflect the key stages of a CPS students life. While we are making the public announcement later this week, we wanted to share the logo and branding guidelines with you now as you prepare materials for the new school year. This logo replaces the current CPS logo.

It was a natural choice to turn to our CPS students for design and inspiration. We ran a contest for all CPS students from middle school to 12th grade inviting them to design the logo. Our principals, arts liaisons and arts teachers inspired 265 student submissions. Those 265 designs were whittled down to 10 and submitted to a voting panel that included Karen Lewis, the Chicago Board of Education, the Student Advisory Council, an LSC Advisory Board member, the Mayors office and CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennetta true cross-section. With the voting panel unable to decide between two designs, the two students worked with a professional graphic designer to blend their design. Then a CPS design committee refined the logo into its final form.

The following link will take you to the logo and brand standards: www.cps.edu/branding. No variations of the designs or color are permitted beyond those outlined in the standards. Coke, Nike, Apple dont vary from their brand standards and neither will CPS. This logo is a proud symbol of a childs journey through CPS, culminating in a successful graduation. The student/artists have shown us through a students eyes what CPS means to them. It should be considered both inspirational and aspirational, serving as a reminder to us all what the ultimate outcome of every CPS student should be, and our role in helping them achieve it.

Please share this information with the members of your team who create, design and work with the CPS logo. Again, it should replace the old logo on all materials and websites. We will design new e-signatures, letterhead, business cards, etc. over time. If you have questions about the logo and its usage, please contact Christine Mallari (clmallari@cps.edu) and Jackie Rodgers (jmrodgers2@cps.edu) in Communications.

Thank you.

Ron Iori

Chief Communications Officer

Chicago Public Schools



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