CPS BUDGET ANALYSIS: The annual 'We cut bureaucracy' and other lies of recent CPS administrations — from Duncan to Huberman to Brizard (and from Daley to Emanuel)... How the new budget adds central office departments and expands others while the official story says the opposite

As the only CPS budget hearings for 2012 loom on July 11, 2012, anyone reading the daily newspapers of following the electronic media pundits knows a couple of things about the latest budget. First, it's going to "drain the rainy day fund" to zero. Second, there is no money for teacher raises beyond two percent. Third, "bureaucracy" has been cut "to the bone" (choose your metaphor) again.

But if CPS is "cutting" the cost of administration at its headquarters at 125 S. Clark St., why is CPS expanding it by adding new departments which nobody has yet described or debated in public. A close reader of even the basic budget (the brief 200-age document) available on line learns that CPS will add the at least three new departments at a cost of more than $11 million for the 2012 - 2013 school year.

The three central office departments CPS is adding in this "new" budget are listed here. (There may be others). Here they are (with the page numbers in the publicly available "proposed budget")

New Departments added to the central office bureaucracy (insofar as they are indicated in the short budget book published on line; there may be others hidden elsewhere)...

Page 80. Department of Knowledge Management and Quality Practices.

Total cost for FY 2013: $1,418,024

Total staff for FY 2013: 9

Page 113. Office of Strategy Management

Total cost for FY 2013: $1,212,236

Total staff for FY 2013: 10

Page 114. Office of Student Health and Wellness

Total cost for FY 2013: $6,080,881

Total staff for FY 2013: 64

The same old song?

In previous years, the Chicago Public Schools would at least hold a press conference to announce the "Proposed Budget" and try to explain it. Since Rahm Emanuel became mayor in May 2011 and appointed the new seven-member Board of Education (and Jean-Claude Brizard as "Chief Executive Officer"), CPS hasn't even pretended to answer press questions. While expanding the so-called "Office of Communications" to the biggest budget and largest number of workers in history, CPS has held the fewest number of press conferences and has tried, relentlessly, to spin every story according to its story line. Any reporter (and there are very few covering Chicago's public schools) who goes outside the official CPS story line is likely to get several phone calls, all orchestrated against the story line. If that fails, CPS is also likely to go over the heads of reporters to owners and editors. Whatever works to present any story from working from the facts.

One of the funniest annual stories coming out of CPS at budget time is the "we cut bureaucracy to the bone..." story. During his eight years as CEO of CPS, Arne Duncan announced every year that he was "cutting administration". It got to the point that by 2008 (when Duncan showed up at City Hall for a press conference with Mayor Daley to announce that CPS was doing so well it didn't have to go to the "cap" on property taxes), CPS had cut bureaucracy so far that 125 S. Clark St. was empty. Except it wasn't. But anyone who had bothered to add up all the numbers Duncan had supposedly "cut" beginning in 2001 (when he was picked by Mayor Daley and the Catalyst crowd to succeed Paul Vallas as CEO) would have proof that Duncan had eliminated every position in the central office (including his own).

The lies continued under Ron Huberman, who added a finer touch by always putting the words "Central Office and Citywide" into his Power Point presentations on the budget "cuts." Since "Citywide" included social workers, psychologists, and others who should have been budgeted in the schools, the ruse enabled Huberman to make large "cuts" while actually expanding a number of central office departments, and creating some completely new one (like a thingy called "Performance Management").

Huberman was followed by the "Interim" CEO Terry Mazany, who served, along with Charles Payne of the University of Chicago (who was "Chief Education Officer") as a placeholder following Huberman's courageous resignation as CEO after Daley announced he was not going to run again and Rahm Emanuel announced he would. The best that could be said about Mazany was that he didn't do any additional damage (and had the courage to refuse to do any additional closings and turnarounds during his brief time in office in early 2011).

Then came the Reign of Rahm, the billionaires' Board, and Jean-Claude Brizard and the appointment of a "team" of people with MBA degrees, no teaching experience, and a vetting by the Broad Foundation to operate Chicago's schools. Their first act was to lie to the public on June 15, 2011 and claim that there was such a "fiscal emergency" that they had to renege on the four percent raise they owed all the Board's unionized workers in the fifth year of the labor contracts. That lie was enshrined in headlines and in a Power Point by "Chief Administrative Officer" Tim Cawley that was untrue at the time it was presented (CPS knew from its fund balances and internal financial reports that the "Sky Is Falling" claims were simply untrue, but forged ahead against the unions anyway).

They are also increasing some of the offices they invented last year:

Page 93. Portfolio Office

Total cost for FY 2012 was $23,192,864

Budgeted for FY 2013: $104,100,710 Total (budgeted) staff for FY 2012 was: 43.5

Total budgeted staff for FY 2013 to be: 68.2

Page 65. Office of Communications

Total cost for FY 2012 was $1,619,945

Budgeted for FY 2013: $2,361,322 Total (budgeted) staff for FY 2012 was: 9

Total budgeted staff for FY 2013 to be: 20


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