Coalition Calls Out Emanuel for Wasteful Spending

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

By: Ashmar Mandou

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Operating Engineers in conjunction with Principals Association and Teachers Union banded together to oppose Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “hand-picked” Board of Education on wasteful spending and campaign contributions on Wednesday morning. The coalitions called for state and city oversight and accountability in regards to privatization contracts with companies, such as SodexoMAGIC and Aramark. During the press conference, the coalition stated that SodexoMAGIC Facilities Management Company funneled $250,000in campaign cash to Rahm Emanuel in exchange for a contract award of $80 million to privatize CPS engineers and custodians in 33 schools. Aramark Corporation also received $282 million in lucrative contracts for custodial management in the remaining schools in the Board of Education’s expanding integrated facilities management pilot program. In addition, on May 25th the Board voted to privatize building engineers in almost 50 schools, giving more control over school maintenance to Aramark and SodexoMAGIC a move that received steadfast criticism by principals, staff, students, and parents for several years.

Operating Engineer President Bill Iacullo criticized the expansion of lucrative contracts for the two companies at a time when CPS is nearly bankrupt. “SodexoMAGIC and Aramark have been removed from countless schools around the country for overbilling, unethical practices and poor performance, and they need to be removed from CPS,” stated Iacullo. “When scarce public funds are diverted to private profit with little fiscal accountability, when principals are denied oversight of custodians and engineers in favor of distant corporate managers, and when the safety and cleanliness of our schools deteriorate for lack of adequate staffing by skeleton crews – schools, children and learning suffer.” Newly elected President of the Chicago’s Principal and Administrators Association Troy A. LaRaviere, vocalized his thoughts on the Aramark and SodexoMAGIC contracts. “Despite the fact that principals complained bitterly about the poor quality of the SUPES training, Mayor Emanuel’s hand-picked board of education rewarded SUPES incompetence by voting unanimously to expand the SUPES training for an additional $20 million,” explained LaRaviere. “You would think that after hearing these complaints, CPS would return our custodians to supervision by our building engineers. Instead CPS is now attempting to pay vast sums of money to Aramark and SodexoMAGIC to privatize the management of the engineers themselves,” stated LaRaviere. “Finally, added to these complaints is the fact that SodexoMAGIC was forced to pay $80 million to settle a class-action discrimination lawsuit by thousands of their minority employees. Why is our district doing business with these people? What will it take to bring an end to the waste of hundreds of millions of public education dollars?” asked LaRaviere.

PHOTO CAPTION: From left: Newly elected President of the Chicago’s Principal and Administrators Association Troy A. LaRaviere, Operating Engineer President Bill Iacullo at the microphone, business manager of the New York City public schools Local 891 International Union of Operating Engineers Robert Troller, and CTU Vice- President Jesse Sharkey. (Photo courtesy of Rosemaria DiBenedetto.)

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