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No pay hike for CPS teachers, but executives are getting raises?


Jean-Claude Brizard listens as Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduces him as new CEO Chicago Public Schools press conference May. | Jean

Jean-Claude Brizard listens as Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduces him as the new CEO of Chicago Public Schools at a press conference in May. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 22, 2011 4:19PM



Newly installed Chicago School Board members Wednesday will be asked to approve six-figure salaries for new Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and four other new top executives that represent raises over what their predecessors were paid.

The vote on whether to boost executive Chicago Public School salaries comes only a week after the same board members, in their first official action, found the deficit-ridden system did not have enough money to pay for 4 percent raises to teachers and other unionized school workers worth $100 million.

School Board President David Vitale said the new salaries were recommended by board staff based on a combination of factors including enhanced responsibilities, what prior employees were paid, and competitiveness.

“The due diligence done on all these things suggests these salaries are appropriate within the context of all that,’’ Vitale said.

Some were skeptical.

“It’s not a good way to start a new administration when you elevate the salary level of a lot of administrators and tell the teachers they cannot get raises without putting a plan on the table for higher performance,’’ said Andy Shaw, president of the Better Government Association.

“People who take over a struggling school system ought to implement some positive changes before they are paid higher salaries [than their predecessors]. You could argue previous salaries were too high because the performance level of the schools was dismal,’’ Shaw said.

“This will only further incense teachers.’’

Brizard’s base salary of $250,000 is $20,000 more than predecessor Ron Huberman made before taking furlough days; more than the $213,000 drawn by the New York City Schools Chancellor, and more than any other city executive — including Mayor Rahm Emanuel — except for New Police Chief Garry McCarthy.

However, among the nation’s five other big-city districts, it is also less than the superintendent salaries in Los Angeles, Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas’ Clark County. Brizard has said he also expects to be allowed bonuses tied to district performance in a new contract up for a board vote Wednesday.

CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley is due for a $215,000 salary, up from his predecessor’s $179,167, and Chief CPS Communications Officer Becky Carroll is in line for a base of $165,000 — up from her predecessor’s $130,383 and higher than the base salary of mayoral communications chief Christine Mather, who is taking home $162,492.

However, Vitale said Cawley will oversee eight departments, compared to his predecessor’s four. Carroll said she expects to also be in charge of internal and external communications as well as media.

New Chief Education Officer Noemi Donoso’s $195,000 is up only slightly from her predecessor Barbara Eason-Watkins $192,850. New chief of staff Andrea Saenz is to be paid $165,000, compared to $116,000 of her predecessor. However, Vitale noted that back in 2009, the post carried a base salary of more than $163,700.

Also Wednesday, board members will be asked to give Cawley a two-year, rather than the traditional six-month, extension to move into the city to meet residency requirements. Cawley is a Winnetka resident and he and his wife would like their daughter, adopted a year ago from the Ukraine, to finish seventh and eighth grade in the suburbs before the family uproots and moves to Chicago, Carroll said.



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