Tuesday, January 19, 2016

CPS Loses Computers, Equipment in School Closings
By Jim Vail
(First Published in Mychinews.com)

BGA's Sarah Karp continues to investigate CPS corruption.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he had to close over 50 public schools a few years ago to save money. Instead, it appears that quite the opposite has happened, the school system has lost money.

The Chicago Public Schools awarded an $8.9 million contract to Global Workplace Solutions to help move materials from the 50 schools closed. Instead, taxpayers ended up paying the company about $25 million. CPS said the cost soared because there were more items than originally anticipated.

Plus, officials can’t say where many of the computers, desks, books and other items from those buildings ended up.

This is according to a recent report from the Better Government Association (BGA) written by Sarah Karp.

Karp is the journalist who broke the story for Catalyst education magazine that CPS awarded a no-bid $20 million SUPES principal training contract that eventually implicated CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett who was forced to resign and plead guilty to taking kickbacks on the deal.

Today, Karp writes that the many millions of dollars of classroom equipment missing is being blamed on Bennett for “poor record keeping.”

“Unfortunately, the previous CPS administration did not adequately manage or keep records on the day-to-day operations of the transition logistics,” CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner told the BGA.

However, once again it appears corrupt deals costing the taxpayers are being blamed on officials when the mayor is the one who oversees the schools and told the public the need to save money by closing schools. He should take the blame.

While the mayor said they needed to save money and close the schools, he then opened up more charter schools despite the fact that many are unproven and others have been investigated for fraud, such as UNO Charter Schools whose chief Juan Rangel was forced to resign. Rangel served as one of Emmanuel’s election campaign managers when he first ran.

Closing the 50 plus schools created an uproar in the black communities, where many of the schools were closed, and helped fuel the current mobilization of people demanding that the mayor resign over the recent police shootings and coverup.

After the schools were closed despite the fight to keep them open, a sad scene was reported of staff from neighboring schools flooding into the shuttered buildings to pick up precious books and materials no longer needed.

Apparently, the record keeping was “extremely lax” charting what equipment was moving out of the closed schools, and what was removed to schools that remained open, BGA reported.

For example, of the 9400 computers in closed schools, only 3724 were “redeployed” into other schools or CPS headquarters, according to CPS. Where are the rest?

CPS also has no record of where all the books ended up.

The school closings were supposed to save $43 million annually in operating expenses, and hundreds of millions of dollars in future capital costs, but incredibly, CPS never itemized the projected savings, so the totals are questionable, the BGA reported.

Apparently, the mayor’s only thought was to close the schools and privatize what he can despite the public outrage. And he could lie about the cost savings, and not even bother to keep track of savings, because perhaps he thought no one will hold him accountable.

The new chairman of the board of education, Frank Clark, who chaired the mayoral commission to close the schools, may try to do it again.

Perhaps the only way the public can stop such outrageous lies, corruption and lost public dollars is to take it to the streets and force out the top man who appears to be beholden to private interests, and not the neighborhoods whose schools were closed.

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