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Cost of boarding up shuttered Chicago schools triples to $30.9M

Chicago Public School CEO BarbarByrd-Bennett listens opening remarks Chicago Board Educatimeeting Wednesday.  | JessicKoscielniak~Sun-Times

Chicago Public School CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett listens to opening remarks at the Chicago Board of Education meeting Wednesday. | Jessica Koscielniak~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 20, 2014 8:23AM

Chicago Public Schools has more than tripled how much it’s willing to pay to have the closed school buildings emptied and boarded up.

The Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously approved to pay Global Workplace Solutions up to $30.9 million.

The initial April contract with Ohio-based GWS was $8.9 million. CPS’ board later approved to more than double the contract to $18.9 million.

Officials have reassessed the costs to board up and secure 30 closed school buildings, documents show. The increase is also attributed to the “decommissioning” of the schools and “inventory and assessment” of books and other materials inside the schools, documents show.

But CPS officials said the massive increases haven’t caused a financial problem.

Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett told the board “we have not exceeded budget at all.”

CPS’ Chief Operating Officer Tom Tyrrell echoed that and explained to the board that CPS has not exceeded the $78 million budget for 2013 school transitions.

“We’ve been able to move things around . . . a little bit more here, a little bit less there, so it’s going to end up in balance,” Tyrrell said during Wednesday’s monthly board meeting.

Officials are now estimating they’ll save $20 million by reusing furniture from the closed schools.

Earlier this year, CPS shuttered dozens of schools they deemed too empty.

CPS also estimates it could save up to an additional $18 million by reusing books and other materials around the district, though those numbers won’t be final until possibly next month, CPS spokesman Joel Hood said after the meeting.



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