RYH Statement Against Privatization of Building Engineer Management

RYH spoke against the $535 million in contracts to privatize building engineers at CPS. Unfortunately, the Board voted to hand over the management of building engineers to for-profit companies Aramark and Sodexo-Magic.

CPS provided no cost-benefit analysis for this, as they are the only district in IL not mandated to do so, and said that the move would be cost-neutral and “more efficient.” Like nursing and other services that have been privatized at CPS, we know the overall negative effect outsourcing has on school culture and the ability to provide cohesive services. When the principal is taken out of the mix, communication becomes more difficult and relationships in the building often suffer.

It was passed, 5-0 by our unelected BOE. Rivera abstained from voting. Hines was absent. Yes votes: Clark, Guzman, Furlong, Garanzini, Ward.

Jennie Biggs, RYH board member and CPS parent, delivered the following statement on behalf of RYH at the unelected BOE meeting on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. 


Today you are scheduled to privatize yet another piece of our school system- a school system which is a public good. Today it is the management of our building engineers.


Where’s the transparency? You owe it to the taxpayers of Chicago to provide a cost analysis to prove your claims. Show us that by privatizing facilities management it will be “cost neutral” as your RFP called for and which a CPS spokesman referenced. We don’t believe this and, given your track record, are pretty confident this will cost taxpayers more money. Not a good look for a district with a $215M budget hole.


And if it is cost neutral, why are you doing something that principals say is very damaging to the success of their schools? Have you read any research on high-quality education and how the relationships inside school buildings are critical to success?


You’ve already undermined our facilities by disinvesting in them and by forcing engineers to have multiple buildings. Conditions in our schools are dangerous and this plan of an absentee, 3rd party manager will make them even more so.


“Single point of contact” for principals- are you serious? Have you talked to principals about attempting to work with Aramark to clean our filthy schools? That privatization scheme has multiple steps with many people that point to one another and get nothing done. There’s also a huge turnover rate which complicates everything. We predict the same will occur with this new privatization scheme.


This scheme will also lift the residency restriction for our building engineers. These valued people are our neighbors and have children in our schools. Privatization may cause many of these families to leave the city.


Regarding another matter of privatization: President Clark, your bias towards charter schools was recently revealed in December’s release of our mayor's emails, where you stated that the unfortunate event of the strike provided an opportunity to direct the media and public in another direction, namely charter schools.


We know you are not neutral on privatization. Prove that this latest privatization scheme is beneficial to CPS- both to its bottom line and to the students in our schools. Or is “cost neutral” an alternative fact?


Stop the privatization and defend the public good.

Update: The Integrated Facilities Management plan was passed unanimously with Arnie Rivera abstaining (5-0). Mahalia Hines was absent. 

Sun Times article published 1.24.17: $535M cost for the IFM contract 

WBEZ story published 1.24.17: CPS Privatization Deal Benefits Emanuel Campaign Contributor

Sun Times article published 1.25.17: Summary of the meeting with the IFM contract approval at the end