By Joshua Dwyer -
Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, displayed plenty of bad judgment last year: in the way it managed its budget, the school closings fiasco and the adoption of a new promotion policy that pushes students to the next grade even when they’re not ready.
More recently, CPS continued its poor decision-making by providing $20 million to Lincoln Elementary to alleviate overcrowding at the school, even though it’s just the 17th most overcrowded school in the city.
Now comes word that it’s going to cost $31 million to empty out the 50 schools CPS closed last year. The district originally projected that the project would cost $9 million.
The mess started in late April when the district signed a contract with logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions. After the firm realized it had drastically underestimated the volume of material it had to move, the district increased the contract to $19 million in September. And, just this past week, the board voted to increase the contract to $31 million in response to security concerns regarding 30 of the closed schools.
There’s no word on whether this will be the final increase.
It’s become clearer day by day that CPS’s original argument for the school closings – to save money – is now null and void. Not only was the data CPS cited highly speculative – showing a cost savings of $500,000 to $800,000 per school – but recent reports also show that the original savings projection of $560 million was off the mark.
In fact, when the cost of renovations to existing schools is taken into account, CPS will only save $28.3 million a year over 10 years.
All of CPS’s poor decisions should make people think twice about just why education is a government-run enterprise.
If private sector managers had made as many mistakes as CPS leadership has over the past year, they’d all be fired. But in CPS’s central office building, they are given promotions and more responsibility, even though their decisions have negatively affected families across the city.
It’s time to kick CPS out of the school management business and empower parents to become the decision-makers when it comes to their children’s’ educations. After all, they are the only ones who truly know what is best for Chicago’s children.
Joshua Dwyer is Director of Education Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute