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Vendor-based after school CPS programs suspended over contractual glitch

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Updated: October 3, 2012 6:29AM

After-school programs operated by outside vendors at Chicago Public Schools are suspended for at least two weeks due to a contractual hiccup, two principals wrote in a letter to parents Friday.

“It is with regret that I inform you of an upset within the after school programming not just at Drummond, but citywide,” Drummond Montessori Principals Mark Neidlinger and Michelle Masny said in the letter.

The affected programs are ones in which outside vendors, like the YMCA, sponsor on-site activities at CPS schools.

CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said Saturday that about 10 schools would be impacted. Ziegler didn’t know how many students would be affected but said officials will be in close communication with their parents.

The letter Neidlinger and Masny sent to parents says the license agreement that CPS created to offer all of vendors, citywide, isn’t valid. The CPS Law Department now has to create a “valid agreement so that every school can legally host after school programs.” That process should take two weeks, the letter says.

“…All schools, including Drummond, have been advised by both the Law Department and the Real Estate Advisor from the Department of Operations, to suspend after school programs,” the letter reads.

Contracts pertaining to outside vendors were initially handled by CPS’ real estate department, but recently were switched to its legal department, according to a source. “This is clearly something big falling through the cracks,” the source added.

The YMCA is one of several vendors affected by the suspension. But activities will go on at YMCA facilities, just not on-site at CPS schools. At Drummond, a bus will instead take students to its facility near Cortland and Lawrence beginning Tuesday, until the contract is resolved.

For Drummond students, the YMCA offers homework help, sports programming and arts and crafts, among other after-school activities, according to Sherrie Medina, a spokeswoman for YMCA Metro Chicago. Activities are usually conducted at the school, she said.

A parent of two students at Drummond, who did not want to be named, said several after-school programs were slated to begin Sept. 10, including Girl Scouts, art and language classes.

The school is on a Track E, or year-round schedule, and began classes Aug. 13. The parent said she was “really impressed” at how quickly some other after-school activities began — two days after the first day of class. But now her kids will be affected by the suspension.

“Track E schools are in school right now. It’s really going to affect them,” the parent said. “Everybody else is going back Tuesday. And then this will affect them too.”

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