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CPS can’t account for equipment from closed schools

Wednesday, Jan 20, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller


Two years after Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed a record 50 schools over low enrollment, officials say they don’t know where many of the computers, desks, books and other items from those buildings ended up.

After being pressed for more than six months on what happened to the classroom equipment, Chicago Public Schools officials now say they don’t have an answer.

They blame bad record-keeping under Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Emanuel’s disgraced former schools chief, who awaits sentencing after pleading guilty in October to steering millions of dollars in CPS contracts to her former employer in exchange for what prosecutors said were promises of kickbacks.

“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 says.

B3 can’t totally take the fall for this, can she? I mean, she wasn’t personally tracking the movements of furniture, was she? Or is this just par for the CPS bureaucratic course?

* More

• CPS says it has no records on what happened to any of the books from the closed schools.

• There are more than 9,400 desktop and laptop computers listed on inventories of schools that were closed. Of those, 3,724 were “redeployed” to other schools or to CPS headquarters, according to CPS, which says the rest were “disposed” of — though how or where isn’t clear.

• More than 33,000 chairs and roughly 12,000 desks and 6,000 tables were listed in good condition in the closed schools, CPS records show. About 9,500 of those chairs, 3,900 desks and 1,000 tables apparently were moved to other buildings. It’s unclear where the rest went.

It kinda goes without saying that if you want lots more money from the state for your school system, then this sort of news isn’t going to help matters much.


  1. - LizPhairTax - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:29 am:

    ==B3 can’t totally take the fall for this, can she?==

    MRE: We were kind of hoping that she could. If that card is over it’s limit please put some on Brizard.

  2. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:30 am:

    I look forward to the CTU press release on this.

  3. - Anon2U - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:34 am:

    But please send us $500,000,000.00 as a reward for our sound financial and asset management practices.

  4. - Carhartt Representative - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:37 am:

    =MRE: We were kind of hoping that she could. If that card is over it’s limit please put some on Brizard.=


  5. - From the 'Dale to HP - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:38 am:

    No way this is on BBB. There are a number of people who worked specifically on the school closings who are still at CPS. They’re the one’s who should be out there explaining why they didn’t do their jobs.

  6. - Almost the Weekend - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:39 am:

    Audit the employees who played a role in closing down the schools, and see if there has been any excessive savings the past several years. Probably not even able to do this because of terrible record keeping.

    What a mess. You shut down the schools, but lose millions of dollars of computers, textbooks, tools, etc. that could be used for the current schools, which are still underfunded.

    For all we know they can still be in these buildings. Wouldn’t be surprised.

  7. - CCC - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:42 am:

    Missing desks and chairs at the CPS, that’s nothing! The City Colleges of Chicago spent $251 million dollars on the new Malcolm X College building and the architects forgot to include offices for the faculty. Some instructors have had to work out of cubicles while others without cubicles were promised lockers at some future date to store their textbooks.

  8. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:45 am:

    LizPhairTax has been tearing it up lately.

  9. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:46 am:

    –“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 says.–

    The previous administration? Who was that, Mayor McCheese?

    Emanuel runs the schools. He picks the managers. He’s accountable.

    Before Emanuel, it was Daley, for decades, who ran the schools.

    If nothing else, the Gravitas Boys’ track record should put to end for all time the “indispensable man” (read white) theory when it comes to Chicago mayors.

  10. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:52 am:

    Why am I not surprised by this?
    This is the kind of ridiculousness that Chicago haters will point to as an excuse to not help children living in the City.

    When the schools were closed, guards needed to have been put into place and the buildings protected like the assets they are. I understand that closing dozens of schools is a new procedure for CPS, yet common sense recognizes how quickly unguarded assets are stolen in these neighborhoods.

  11. - B-Boy - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:54 am:

    Tom Tyrell was in charge of the moving process. Just left CMS.

  12. - BooHoo - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 9:57 am:

    CCC - Plenty of “instructors” at U of I and top schools (whatever “Instructor” means) share or don’t have offices. You sit in a lab, and at most have a only few office hours per week. Adjunct, no PhD == No office

  13. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:04 am:

    In other news, a recently discovered “school desk graveyard” was discovered south of Joliet over the weekend. Officials are not certain but have an idea of the suspects and motives behind this stunning development.

  14. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:04 am:

    Any connection between Tyrell’s leaving CMS and this latest scandal?

  15. - CCC - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:06 am:


    I was referring to the full-time, tenured faculty.
    They do not have offices. The City Colleges also require office hours of the faculty. Where should they meet in the hallways, the restrooms or the cafeteria?

  16. - Ooo - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:13 am:

    I am confused by this, because I am 100 percent certain that there were ridiculous records kept and audit tags placed on just about every item. And massive storage warehouses filled with stuff. Maybe the contractor has all the records and none of it was kept at CPS?

  17. - LizPhairTax - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:21 am:

    Thank you, Soccermom.

    Vanilla Man, I don’t think this was people from “the neighborhood” cruising in to unguarded buildings and taking stuff. If there is malfeasance or just old fashioned incompetence the responsible party(ies) most likely had a sweet office at 125 S. Clark St.

  18. - FormerParatrooper - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:26 am:

    When my company closed operations at a facility with little notice and told a majority of those working there they would not be retained, a lot of things were “missing”. Everything from computers to a CNC machine went MIA. I’m not surprised that those schools had things missing.

  19. - LizPhairTax - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:30 am:

    ==I understand that closing dozens of schools is a new procedure for CPS, yet common sense recognizes how quickly unguarded assets are stolen in these neighborhoods.==

    Although, rereading your comment the neighborhoods you are talking about could be JRTC, City Hall, CPS Headquarters, Financial District, etc. and the assets could be human children.

  20. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:33 am:

    “The City Colleges of Chicago spent $251 million dollars on the new Malcolm X College building and the architects forgot to include offices for the faculty.” / Is this a joke? That is nuts.
    Have there been any consequences for the administration’s poor job? This is what they think of their faculty?

  21. - crazybleedingheart - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:33 am:

    Yeah, sure, paratrooper, this isn’t about management, it’s about employees greedily furnishing their homes with those cushy student desks.

  22. - downstate commissioner - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:43 am:

    I suspect that a lot of this stuff is still in the schools being used. Class needs a different table, teacher asks janitor, janitor gets one, throws old one away, no big deal, but no one is told, nor inventory changed. And no one thinks anything about it until someone decides to do an inventory. The computers are a little more problematic, because controls should have been in place, if for no other reason to know what type and version is available to upgrade in house.
    It does sound like a lot of equipment, but in my business, a thousand ton of rock sounds like a lot to the public, but for road building purposes, it is just a good beginning.

  23. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:47 am:

    In all seriousness, computers are possibly missing. What is on those hard drives? Personal info of school children and their families? Public aid numbers? Free & school lunch numbers? Unless every hard drive was wiped clean, there is no way of knowing what info was on any of those “disposed” computers. That alone is cause for serious concern - especially given that could be takling about minor children records.

  24. - jerry 101 - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 10:58 am:

    CPS does a terrible job with regards in equipment inventory management. This is no surprise. A lot of the ‘missing’ equipment is probably stuff that was thrown away years ago. Many schools never tell the central office when they throw out an old Apple IIe computer, so it sits on the fixed asset register. Some of it was probably stolen. The balance is probably either still in the closed building or in a warehouse where it wasn’t properly tagged and tracked, so no one ‘knows’ where it is.

  25. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 11:04 am:


    Someone doesn’t take a CNC machine home to put a drink on it.

    My guess a lot of this stuff ended up in scrapyards someplace.

  26. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 11:11 am:

    They probably gave the moving and storage contract to the low bidder. Typical. Hey Forrest, next time hire Pickens Kane and you won’t lose anything.

  27. - FormerParatrooper - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 11:17 am:

    Crazybleedingheart…. I made an observation of what occurred, I didn’t assign blame in my post.

  28. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 11:23 am:

    OneMan - to be fair, though, I would love to have a Powerade machine in my basement. Man that would be sweet - and a great conversation piece! “You wanna see my Powerade machine?!”

  29. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 11:46 am:

    Most likely it was sold for pennies on the dollar to a scavenger, who’ll then sell it back to CPS for twenty times what they paid for it. Could be they stacked them up in air plenums beneath floors in violation of codes (I’ve seen that a NUMBER of times). I’ve learned over the years that there are no “accidents” regarding procurement and contracts at CPS. Somebody with connections made out on this, and spread the wealth around. That’s the CHICAGO way….

  30. - Harry - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 12:06 pm:

    Sadly, this IS business as usual at CPS and it has been that way for a VERY long time.

    CPS is a lot like the comical description of a boat: a hole in the water, surrounded by wood, into which you pour money.

    CPS is the black hole of government agencies, you pour in all the money you can afford and no matter what you do, the result is poorly educated.

  31. - Harry - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 12:09 pm:

    You look at this, and then the GOP proposal to enrich their friends by raising the interest rate CPS will have to pay on its upcoming bond sale, and can only think of Henry Kissinger on the Iran-Iraq War: “It’s a shame they can’t both lose.”

  32. - Sir Reel - Wednesday, Jan 20, 16 @ 12:29 pm:

    The problem must’ve been CPS didn’t have enough administrators to keep their equipment inventory up to date. s/

    In my former life in State government. I tried for years to remove equipment I was responsible from my agency’s inventory. But the next year, like clockwork, it would show up on the inventory.

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