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New schools chief Brizard approved with $250,000 salary

Updated: July 3, 2011 1:07PM

Amid a $720 million deficit, lame duck Chicago school board members Wednesday appointed New York educator Jean-Claude Brizard as Chicago Schools CEO with an annual base salary of $250,000 — $20,000 more than former Schools chief Ron Huberman.

The amount of Brizard’s salary was not made public until at least an hour after board members voted on it without comment. Chicago Public School officials issued a news release saying the salary would be effective through June 30 of this year — until a contract with Brizard can be worked out.

The release called the salary “on par or less” than those of superintendents in New York City, Los Angeles, Houston and Miami-Dade.

With his appointment Wednesday, the former New York City physics teacher becomes the first Chicago Schools CEO since the post was created in 1995 to also be a former public school teacher. And, he will be the first to have a contract, rather than merely serving at the pleasure of the mayor.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s choice to lead the nation’s third-largest school district left his $235,000-a-year post as superintendent of Rochester, N.Y., public schools on May 13 and has been working at CPS for free, getting the “lay of the land,’’ since May 17, said CPS communications chief Becky Carroll. He will officially start work Thursday.

On that day, Brizard will kick off a set of school visits he plans to do every day, Monday through Thursday, until the end of the school year, Carroll said. In addition, next week Brizard will begin a series of “listening tours’’ with small groups of teachers, parents, community groups and others invested in CPS.

But his contract won’t be approved until Emanuel’s handpicked board members take their seats, sometime on or before June 22.

Brizard replaces Interim Schools CEO Terry Mazany, who has been paid a dollar while on leave from the Chicago Community Trust, where he will return as president and CEO. Mazany’s temporary CPS appointment followed the abrupt late November departure of Huberman, whose base pay was $230,000 a year.

The revolving door of Mayor Daley-era CEOs finally will stop with Brizard’s formal installation. As the door has spun, the school system’s deficit has grown from $700 million by Huberman’s last count to $720 million by Mazany’s last count. Addressing that deficit will be among Brizard’s top priorities.

However, CPS communications officials were unable Wednesday to say if any board – old or new – planned to vote on whether CPS has the money to cover a scheduled 4 percent teacher pay hike by a June 15 deadline.

On his way out the door, Mazany praised Brizard as someone with the “right personality and disposition’’ to deal with the challenges ahead.

“He is fully capable of handling the myriad of responsibilities,’’ said Mazany, who left staff members thank you notes attached to chocolate apples wrapped in red foil on his last day as CEO. “He has the energy to move fast.’’

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