Who is 'Global Workplace Solutions' and why does Chicago hire an Ohio firm to do the closing work? Chicago Board of Education votes $14 million to privatize and outsource the transition for all the closing schools

Now that the Chicago Board of Education has finally voted to push through Rahm Emanuel’s 50-school Hit List, everyone concerned about fighting back against the attacks on public education in Chicago will be following how CPS will be implementing the transitions. And despite the talking points issued by CPS spokesmen and women, there is every reason to be skeptical.

A good place to start is the fact that CPS has privatized and outsources a large part of the transitioning. Quietly at its April 3, 2014 meeting (the “March” meeting of the Board was postponed because CPS was afraid of the massive march and rally against the closings the was scheduled for March 27, so “March” became “April” in Chicago), the Board of Education passed a “Board Report” awarding a contract of $14.2 million to an outfit called “Global Workplace Solutions LLC” “to provide Logistic Management Services to the Office of Strategy Management at a total cost not to exceed $14,200,000….” According to the Board Report, the contract was awarded after competitive bidding.

Global Workplace Solutions is located in West Chester, Ohio. The CPS contract contact is Tom L. Tyrell, the most recent executive hired by CPS.

What will “Global Workplace Solutions” be doing for its $14 million? According to the Board Report:

“SCOPE OF SERVICES: Vendor will deliver and manage relocations and decommissioning service for the Board school consolidations.

“DELIVERABLES: Vendor will implement the plan set forth by the Board and provide overall management and services to complete the relocation, removal of contents, furnishings and equipment and securing all schools affected as specific in the agreement that will be executed with the Board.

“OUTCOMES: Vendor’s services will result in every student affected by a school action to be seamlessly integrated into his/her new schools. The project goal is to foster a transitional environment that is positive, nurturing and respectful and provide for maximum continuity.”

There was no discussion at the Board meeting as to why this massive job should be outsourced and privatized.

The only public discussion so far in Chicago about Global Workplace Solutions came in a brief note at CPS Chatter, a blog, on April 12, 2013:


On Wednesday, April 3rd, CPS signed a $14.2 million dollar contract with Global Workplace Solutions to provide logistical support for the massive school closings. So who exactly is Global Workplace Solutions?

GWS is a part of Johnson Controls, which is a Fortune 100 company that is headquartered in Milwaukee Wisconsin. In 2001, it was part of a deal with the city of New Orleans that the Times-Picayune called one of the most corrupt in New Orleans history, saying “The breadth of the graft and greed alleged in the indictment is breathtaking, even by the standards of a city inured to public corruption,”

The deal eventually triggered a federal investigation that eventually triggered at least a dozen guilty pleas including one to Johnson Control’s project manager Terry Songy. They were accused of having subcontractors deliberately jack up prices and then the guilty parties would pocket the difference.

Johnson Controls played the dupe during the investigation claiming that they were as much a victim as anyone else, but New Orleans didn’t see it that way. They refused to pay their bill for months in 2010. They had good reason to doubt Johnson Controls’ innocence as he case summary also alleges that businessman Robert Tucker and financier Rafael “Ray” Valdes each received $273,000 in fees from Johnson Controls, awarded strictly on the basis of their “influence and perceived influence” with New Orleans’ Mayor, Marc Morial. Valdes worked as a consultant for Johnson Controls at the same time he arranged financing for the city, netting himself a total $2.1 million in fees.

Johnson Controls also has an education division and longstanding ties with the Charter School business including UNO. This is just something else to make it harder to believe that this move has anything to do with helping the school children of Chicago. I would be curious to find out exactly where the extra school supplies wind up after the closings.

I’ll be back this weekend with our normal format. There have been some great articles and editorials written recently, but I just had to share what I learned about the company profiting off of these closings.


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

5 + 3 =