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CPS alters its botched janitorial privatization plan

Tuesday, Jun 22, 2021

* Allowing CPS to privatize its janitorial services was supposed to be a model for all other school districts. Nope

Hundreds of workers will still be private employees. Service requests will still go to a central staff. There will still be a vendor contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

But after years of outsourced management that featured filthy schools and slow service response times, the cleaning and maintenance of Chicago Public Schools’ 600-plus buildings is coming back under district control in October, with promises from district officials for increased staffing, better transparency and improved response times.

A year after announcing it would transition away from its maligned relationship with Aramark and Sodexo, the district on Monday is unveiling its new facilities management model — including a three-year, $375 million contract with new vendor Jones Lang LaSalle — that officials hope will fix longstanding problems. […]

Under the old model, fully implemented in 2017, vendors Aramark and Sodexo had complete control of CPS’ building upkeep, from janitorial work to landscaping, snow removal and pest control services. Any subcontracts went through those two vendors, as did principals’ service requests. And the vendors had their own management and human resources staffing. […]

Principals still won’t have as much control of their buildings as they did before the work was outsourced — that management will become the responsibility of central office staff. CPS will have a new, district-run online request system for facilities needs where principals can track their ticket, plus a hotline for emergencies.

Maybe just rearranging the deck chairs.

* Meanwhile

Outraged by the layoffs of more than 440 teachers and support staff, Chicago Teachers Union officials on Monday questioned why the city was cutting jobs in underserved communities during the pandemic, as nearly $2 billion in federal education funds were awarded to Chicago Public Schools.

“The mayor continues to be a walking contradiction through her actions, and a classic example of how symbolic gestures ring hollow,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said Monday in a statement.

“On Friday, she declared racism to be a public health crisis in many Chicago communities disproportionately burdened with poverty, unemployment, housing insecurity and violence. Today, she’s destabilizing those same communities by laying off educators at neighborhood schools,” Sharkey said.

The highest number of the 443 layoffs by ZIP code, said Sharkey, were in North Lawndale and Little Village, which were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 infection and death.

Yeah, I’m sure this won’t have any impact at all on the trailer bill talks for an elected school board.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

15 Comments
  1. - selectivememory - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 4:48 am:

    Rich remind your readers again what does Illinois rank in state funding for local K-12 school?


  2. - samestoryeveryyear - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 5:55 am:

    Don’t pay any attention to the staffing changes article - the exact same one gets released every year around the last day of school.

    Here’s 2019 https://chicago.suntimes.com/2019/5/31/18647663/cps-teacher-layoffs-cps-2019-chicago-public-schools-union-ctu

    Here’s 2020
    https://news.wttw.com/2020/06/18/cps-lay-nearly-300-teachers-part-annual-adjustments#:~:text=On%20Thursday%2C%20the%20final%20day,student%20demographics%20and%20programmatic%20changes.

    Here’s 2016
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/chicago-public-schools-layoffs-1000-teachers-cps/53686/%3famp

    It looks like something that happens when the incoming class of 3rd graders in a particular school only needs 1 class instead of 2, or the principal realizes she’d rather have an extra Japanese teacher or more field trip money than a 3rd administrative clerk. Normal staffing decisions in a district of 500 schools, and there is absolutely no shortage of jobs on the CPS website. This really is an opportunity for the union to take a cheap shot at the district when it really is the case that anyone in their ranks who wants a job in the fall can obtain one.


  3. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 9:02 am:

    CPS announces layoffs every year due to uncertainty over enrollment numbers. They are usually maternity leave positions or other temp positions (long term sub) and everyone who was laid off is eventually hired back (source: wife is a CPS teacher who was in a maternity position and was laid off only to be hired back a few years ago).


  4. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 9:52 am:

    How much will Lori’s retaliatory firings of union activists and teachers and teacher aides who spoke to the media during the pandemic come back to bite the city?


  5. - Jocko - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 10:01 am:

    You mean having ‘in-house’ janitorial staff will improve response time and reduce the possibility of workplace theft. Who’da thunk?


  6. - walker - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 10:05 am:

    Very common experience over time that outsourced private industry contractors cost more, do less, than government employees. When will we learn from experience rather than buy into ideological myths?


  7. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 10:14 am:

    Get over it Precinct Cap. This goes on every year.


  8. - Teve Demotte - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 10:47 am:

    Prior to 2017 the CPS schools were filthy as well. There was high absenteeism and workers comp abuses by unionized CPS employees. Because CTU says the schools are generally filthy then according to most people on this blog, they must be. The reason why CPS outsourced this to begin with was to cut the cost escalation and find a way to cleaner schools. CPS was essentially broke in 2016! The school cleanliness issue is a management issue, whether done by a contractor or done by government employees. Poor management is the root of the issue. Even though CPS has received significant federal money due to Covid, the long-term financial outlook for CPS is not good. Student enrollment continues to precipitously drop and it appears people are leaving the city. CTU is the political power in the city and they will continue to do what all powerful entities do, expand their power. The “independently elected” school board is a bad idea and it will exacerbate the city’s precarious financial problems in a few years.


  9. - Common Sense - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 11:24 am:

    I worked in CPS prior to their outsourcing of engineers and custodians. Schools directly hired these positions and we’re an integral part of the school. For one school that I worked at they would often knock snow off teacher’s cars toward the end of the day. The schools were much cleaner probably in large part to accountability. Today there is no accountability as custodians get shuffled around different schools.

    What’s up with the quotes around Independently elected school board? Are you saying that the public is not sophisticated enough to choose whom they are going to vote for? If so then why not? What makes Chicago citizens less informed than every other state resident?


  10. - Teve Demotte - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    Common Sense, since you worked for CPS prior to 2016, it is very likely you are a CTU member and therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that you will, of course, put forth the CTU narrative, which is often the only narrative that is allowed to be considered, these days. The quotes were intentional as CTU will do everything it can to make sure the “proper” candidates will prevail and therefore the board will be controlled by the CTU. Common sense. CTU has a very large campaign finance war chest and it will be used to advance CTU political objectives. It is not a question of whether the public is sophisticated or not. It is the question of whether the public will get perspectives from both sides of the issue via the media and therefore can weigh the consequences. It seems as if everyone forgot what CPS was like prior to 1995, when CTU monopolized education in the city. There was a reason why Mayoral control came about. School choice plus a myriad of other innovations, some led by CTU, are the reason schools have improved since 1995 and in turn kept and attracted people to stay or move into the city once they started a family. Today, a good chunk of the current political class is tied to CTU, supported politically by CTU, or afraid of CTU and therefore CTU’s perspective is the only one discussed.


  11. - StacyDGsonetrack - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 1:47 pm:

    The most dangerous thing for CPS kids going back in the fall will be unvaccinated adults in the building. CPS should require all teachers and support staff be fully vaccinated before returning to school in the fall.


  12. - Common Sense - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 3:56 pm:

    Teve Demotte. You got me. I am in the CTU. Also a proud CPS parent and, of course, a Chicago resident. As much skin in the game as possible.

    So I ask you again. Why can Chicagoans not be trusted with the same input into their children’s education as every other Illinoisan? Because they will vote lock step with the union? Who else do you want to silence? I might not agree with you but I would never go so far as to take away your voice, vote or right to shape your kids education.


  13. - Common Sense - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 3:59 pm:

    StacyDGsometrack. I agree with the sentiment but it is likely that age 5-12 (and very likely 3-5) won’t be allowed the vaccine. Wonder if kids under 12 but no one else will be masked in fall.


  14. - City Zen - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 5:00 pm:

    Sure, the schools were dirty before, but it was *our dirt.


  15. - StacyDGsonetrack - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 9:13 pm:

    -common sense- kids do not carry and expel the same amount of viral load as adults. This is why students in schools have not been major vectors. We must require all adults in schools to be vaccinated. Our children’s lives depend on it


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