'Management musical chairs' has left budget department empty of experts... Board to hold budget hearings Monday, November 5, but who is going to be there to hear the hearings?

Hardly a day goes by in Chicago when the mayor doesn't hold some kind of media event featuring corporate leaders touting some plan of Rahm Emanuel. And at the Chicago Public Schools, the Board of Education appointed by Emanuel in June 2011 contains the largest number of millionaires in history — and one billionaire. The Rahm Emanuel public schools are supposedly being run more and more based on sound business principals. But if a stable leadership group is one requirement for success in corporate America, the constant churning of public education executives since Emanuel took power — unprecedented in the city's history — should give rise somewhere to concern. Since Emanuel's Board was appointed in 2011, the school system has had two "Chief Executive Officers" and four "Chief Financial Officers." Additionally, other ranks have been disrupted, some repeatedly.

The Board of Education's most recent "Chief Financial Officer," former Diners Club executive Peter Rodgers, listens to the public participation at the October 24, 2012 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.On October 26, 2012, Chicago Public Schools announced that on Monday, November 5, the Board would be holding budget hearings again on the "Amended Budget" for the 2012 - 2013 school year. Although the Board had claimed that its "Proposed Budget" in July included raises for all school system workers (including administrators), at the October 24 Board meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley presented the Board with a Power Point that appeared to double the amount of money CPS was claiming the contract with the Chicago Teachers Union would cost. Although Board members asked more critical questions than in the past, they still allowed some of the most unusual aspects of the presentation to go without comment.

Cawley also told the Board that because the Board had violated provisions of the law, additional hearings would be held the first week of November. Earlier hearings had not complied with the requirement of public notice. The new hearings are scheduled for the evening of November 5 at Payton and King high schools in Chicago. Sign in for testimony for each site is between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., while the hearings will go from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. For the third time in as many months, CPS has refused to provide printed copies of the budget to the usual locations: the city's public schools; the aldermanic offices; and the city's public libraries. CPS officials have claimed since their appointment by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the printing of the budgets is "too expensive," but the total cost of the printing and distribution of the budgets in the manner that has been traditional in Chicago for more than 150 years would cost less than the Board of Education has approved for "relocation" expenses for out-of-town administrators approved since the Board members were appointed by Emanuel in May 2011.

But during the previous three years, the Chicago Public Schools has played what criticcs are calling "Management Musical Chairs" with the top jobs in the system's budget office, while at the same time purging the ranks of the middle level people who actually knew the budget and did the work. The complete budget hearing announcement reads:

CPS to Hold Public Hearings On Amended Budget... New Hearing Dates Will Give Public Additional Time to Comment and Provide Feedback. October 26, 2012

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will host two additional public hearings for parents, teachers and community stakeholders to learn about and comment on the amended budget for Fiscal Year 2013 (FY 13).

The meetings will be held simultaneously on Monday, Nov. 5 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at:

At the Board's December 14, 2011 meeting (above), the "Chief Financial Officer" was David Watkins, who lasted less than one year. Watkins followed Acting CFO Melanie Shaker and came before the latest CFO, Peter Rodgers. All three came from outside CPS, two from outside Chicago. Behind Watkins is the former "Chief of Family and Community Engagement" Jamiko Rose, who was also gone in less than one year without explanation. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.King College Preparatory High School

4445 S. Drexel Blvd.

Walter Payton College Preparatory High School

1034 N. Wells St.

Sign-up for public participation at the hearings will take place at each location from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Although the Chicago Board of Education approved the FY 13 budget in August, CPS has amended the budget in order to account for the additional costs associated with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) contract agreement. The contract adds a total of $103 million to the FY 13 budget, all of which is tied to salary increases.

The amended budget reduces administration, finance and operations spending in the Central Office, avoiding cuts to classrooms as promised by CPS, the Board of Education and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In addition to the Nov. 5 hearings, CPS held hearings on Oct. 16. CPS will present the amended budget to the Board of Education at its next monthly meeting on Nov. 14.

The almost comic instability at the top of the CPS administration since the Board of Education was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the time of Emanuel's inauguration in May 2011 has been unnoticed in the city's corporate media.

Thirteen months ago, at the Board's September 28, 2011 meeting (above), Melanie Shaker was "Acting Chief Financial Officer" of CPS. Shaker was later named "Treasurer." As of November 2012, she is no longer with CPS. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Additionally, when the Board's bond rating was lowered by the three rating agencies (Moody's, Standard and Poors, and Fitch), the Management by Musical Chair problems fomented by the Emanuel administration were ignored, while the teachers' contract and the strike received most of the blame for the lowered rating. The seven members of the Board do not discuss these personnel decisions in public, and they have sealed the execuctive session records.

Although there were some disruptions in personnel during the years that Richard M. Daley was mayor and appointed the school board, the destruction of the CPS human infrastructure since the inauguration of Rahm Emanuel and Emanuel's appointment of the current seven member school board in May and June 2011 is unprecedented. In what amounted to a purge, Emanuel's Board got rid of many of the most experienced people in the CPS budget officers during November and December 2011, leaving the office with fewer and fewer people who knew anything about the complex finances of the nation's third largest school system.

In addition to churning the top job, the Emanuel school board has also purged the middle ranks, depriving the system of more and more of its institutional knowledge. The process has also been expensive. Since Emanuel took over, CPS has been hiring most top level executives from outside Chicago and paying them a "relocation fee" for moving to the city. The largest of these went to former Chief Executive Officer Jean Claude Brizard ($30,000 for moving from Rochester New York in May 2011) and Brizard's successor Barbara Byrd Bennett ($30,000 for moving from Detroit this year).

On May 25, 2011, Diana Ferguson, above left, was Chief Financial Officer of CPS. She was forced out of office as soon as the Rahm Emanuel Board of Education took power. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Both Brizard and Byrd Bennett were budgeted to be paid a quarter million dollar salary each year, $50,000 more than the longest-lasting CEO in Chicago schools history since mayoral control began. In his last year, Arne Duncan, now U.S. Secretary of Education, was paid $200,000 per year. Duncan, like all of his predecessors, was not paid any relocation fee when he got the job.


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