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Chicago Board of Education meeting agenda -- very possibly the longest in history at roughly 500 pages -- indicates business as usual... June 24 meeting to begin at 4:30 at Brooks High School...

The final day for four of the current members of the Chicago Board of Education will be June 24, 2015. As the Board's public agenda showed on June 22, 2015, the Board members have not changed anything about their strategy and tactics. Despite questionable claims published on June 22 on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, the Board members need to be reminded that they refused over two years to try and disengage from the "toxic swaps" that were entered into under Arne Duncan on orders from then Mayor Richard M. Daley. Above, the Board's members, left to right, Henry Bienen, Mahalia Hines (partly obscured by computer screen), Jess Ruiz (then Board Vice President, currently "Interim CEO," Board President David Vitale, Andrea Zopp, and Carlos Azcoitia. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The Chicago Board of Education is meeting for the second time in a year at a school, rather than at the Board's downtown Chicago headquarters. The June 24 meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m. at Brooks High School on 111th Street. The final day for four of the current members of the Chicago Board of Education will be the June 24, 2015 meeting. Leaving are Henry Bienen, Carlos Azcoitia, and Deboah Quazzo. Andrea Zopp has already resigned and it is not known whether she will attend the meeting. Remaining will be Board President David Vitale, Vice President (currently "Interim CEO") Jesse Ruiz, and Board member Mahalia Hines.

As the Board's public agenda showed on June 22, 2015, the Board members have not changed anything about their strategy and tactics. Despite questionable budget claims published on June 22 on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, the Board members have stalled for more than eight years in the face of claims of financial "crisis." But the agenda at more than 500 pages is possibly the longest in history, and it contains unique items which focus public attention on the current financial situation at CPS. Two length Board Reports (totaling more than 100 pages) approve the issuance of "Tax Anticipation Warrants" to pay bills during the opening months of the 2015 - 2016 school year (Fiscal Year, FY, 2016) while the Board continues to challenge state officials to provide state money to bring the Board's finances into line.

Board members will doubtless talk about how they are facing a financial "crisis" and that the "crisis", according to their talking points, is caused by the cost of teacher pensions, specifically money owed by the end of June to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF).

The first page of the 516-page public Agenda for the June 24, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. The Agenda became available to the public on the morning of June 22, 2015 and can be downloaded at www.cps.edu. More than 100 pages of the agenda consists of legal language involving the issuance of hundreds of millions of dollars in "tax anticipation warrants," a form of borrowing that the school system was utilizing during the 1970s when it got into major financial trouble.Little or nothing will be said at the meeting about the hundreds of millions of dollars CPS has been wasting on ever expanding privatization schemes and other decisions that undermine the real public schools in America's third largest school system. The Board members need to be reminded, for example, that they refused over two years to try and disengage from the "toxic swaps" (actually, variable rate bond deals) that were entered into under Arne Duncan in 2003 - 2005 -- on orders from then Mayor Richard M. Daley. By 2013, the Board members were being reminded by officials of the Chicago Teachers Union and others that they should try and go to arbitration to wind down the toxic swaps. Not only did the Board members refuse to do that, but they refused to even consider it. Both David Vitale and Jesse Ruiz basically went into a doubletalk mode when the question was raised, with Ruiz noting sententiously that arbitration might not "win." The toxic swaps were not, of course, the only financial mismanagement by the Chicago Board of Education under two mayors (Richard M. Daley, 1995 - 2011; Rahm Emanuel, May 2011 - today) since the beginning of mayoral control.

When corporate news reports that there is a financial "crisis" at CPS, the reporters ignore the fact that the members of the Board of Education have been regularly wasting millions of dollars -- every month -- on expensive privatization deals, like the payment authorized at the January 28 Board meeting to pay a half million dollars to the law firm headed by Langdon Neal. Such expenses were approved regularly by the Board members' votes, with nothing every appearing on the pre-meeting public agendas.The Board's members who will be gone are Henry Bienen, Andrea Zopp, Carlos Azcoitia, and Deborah Quazzo. David Vitale and Jesse Ruiz are remaining, along with Mahalia Hines.

An example of how the Board continued ruthless and wasteful expenses is available in the Action Agenda from the January 2015 Board meeting. The Board voted, unanimously and without debate, to approve a half million dollar payment to the law firm of Neal and Leroy, one of the most politically connected law firms in the city. Langdon Neal, the lead partner in the firm, is also the chairman of the Chicago Board of Elections, which figured primarily in the 2015 municipal elections. The Chicago Board of Education routinely approves these size payments to Langdon Neal with no discussion or debate.



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