BOARDWATCH: Since Arne Duncan left CPS in 2009, the administrations have been reduced by more than 200 percent!... Alternative facts are not just the spoutings of the Trumps... Latest CAFR shows that additional money to CPS has not been going to school teachers or PSRPs...
The main result of the decision by the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union to eliminate their own independent analysis of the finances of Chicago Public Schools is that the most ridiculous stuff gets said in official CPS documents -- and the union's leaders continue to prattle on about the need for more money from "Springfield" or "Progressive Revenue Solutions." At the same time, CTU has joined CPS in affirming the priorities of City Hall Chicago and avoiding (except for TIF money) the need for more local tax dollars for public schools in Chicago.
And when a tiny suburban district can request relief from the property tax "cap," those who work in CPS or have children in Chicago's schools where overcrowded classrooms and more cuts are the norm -- might be asking the same questions. But because the union has surrendered its independent voice on the CPS budget, the public release of the latest CAFR (the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) by CPS at its January Board of Education meeting has been ignored for more than a month!
Also, the Chicago Teachers Union now enters the fourth year of its refusal to have a standing committee, long established under the union's Constitution and By Laws, functioning to analyze "School Finances and Taxation." The "Who," "What," "When" and "Where" of this scandal are clear as of March 2017.
The only remaining question is "WHY?" And the answer to that may have a lot to do with the fact that the union's leadership undermined the union's power to strike at the last minute one month before the November 2016 general election. Comments on that fact will be appreciated here.
The CAFR for FY 2016 is 245 pages long, much of it in understandable but in some cases dense financial spreadsheets. The CAFR always comes out six months after the end of the most recent fiscal year, so the last CAFR from CPS is for FY 2016 (July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016). We are currently in FY 2017, so the FY 2017 CAFR won't be out until January 2018.
While there are more than a dozen separate financial claims and realities that must be discussed when examining the latest CAFR, it's easiest for most readers to begin with the annual claim, this time by the administration of CEO Forrest Claypool, that once again CPS officials have "cut administration." This claim has been made almost every year (there was one exception during the last two decades) at the time CPS unveils its budgets (usually in August) or when the CAFR comes out (if there is a public discussion forced by corporate media, which didn't happen this year).
As usual, in his forwarding materials in the CAFR, Claypool claimed that once again CPS officials had been chopping the top (as union slogans once put it before most people realized that "eliminating waste" and "cutting bureaucracy" were reactionary slogans utilized against public workers).
In his latest 'Dear Stakeholders' introduction to the CAFR, Claypool states:
"While CPS continues to lobby for equitable funding from the state and seek out opportunities for new revenue, the District has greatly expanded its Internal Audit department to strengthen internal controls and streamline operations. Through this effort, CPS has increased school audits since last year and identified opportunities to
better safeguard District resources. By utilizing sophisticated audits and controls that reach far beyond the resources previously deployed in the District, we are helping to reduce unnecessary spending so that every dollar is maximized. We have also strengthened the policies and procedures in place for the District’s financial
On January 20, 2015, in their note announcing the publication of the FY 2014 CAFR, Barbara Byrd Bennett and David Vitale, who were then CEO of CPS and Board President, made the astonishing claim that they had reduced "administration" by $700 million (out of a total budget of around $5 billion). Their statement was:
"In fiscal year 2014, CPS ended the year with a $513 million shortfall, relying on reserves to bridge that gap. The pension payment cost the District $613 million, an increase of approximately $400 million from fiscal year 2013. CPS has made a concerted effort to reduce spending away from the classroom, and we have successfully trimmed nearly $700 million through fiscal year 2014 in central office, administrative and operating costs away from the classroom..."
Nowhere in the more than 200 pages of the CAFR that year was there any explanation of how those "$700 million..." were "trimmed" and from where. The administrators and Board members at that time tried to give the impression to the public that all of these cuts had been from bureaucracy. But a closer analysis showed that the claimed cuts were mostly fictitious, and that those that did take place were the result of the reclassification of "citywide" people (social workers, psychologists and others) as part of the "bureaucracy."
Both Vitale and Byrd Bennett were gone by the time of the next CAFR. Byrd Bennett was indicted for the corruption she had participated in in the SUPES (principal training privatization) scandal, and Vitale (who had praised the work of SUPES) had left, too. As of 2017, only one of those who was on the Board of Education at that time (Mahalia Hines) is still on the Board. All of the top administrators (CEO, Chief Education Officer, financial and personnel officers) have also all been changed. Since Forrest Claypool was appointed CEO by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in July 2015, the expensive hiring of more than a dozen outside people (most with no education experience or certification) has been ignored by the corporate media of Chicago, just as much as the claims about cutting "administration" have been allowed to continue.