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1,000 CPS teachers protest canceled raises while execs get higher salaries

Chicago Teachers Uniofficers members hold protest Wednesday June 22 2011 demanding CPS negotiates with unions over budget priorities. The protest

Chicago Teachers Union officers and members hold a protest, Wednesday, June 22, 2011, demanding CPS negotiates with unions over budget priorities. The protest began at CPS headquarters at 125 S. Clark, and continued to Bank of America acroos the street and the Chicago Board of Trade on South LaSalle. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 24, 2011 12:20AM

Despite the protests of teachers angered over withdrawal of their raises, the city’s new School Board agreed Wednesday to pay five new top school executives more than their predecessors.

Hours after more than 1,000 jeering teachers ringed the block holding the Chicago Board of Education, board members voted to pay new Chicago Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard $250,000 a year, make him eligible for up to $37,500 a year in performance bonuses, pay him $30,000 to move his family from Rochester, N.Y., and give him a free car and driver for school business.

The new base salary is $20,000 higher than that of predecessor Ron Huberman and outstrips that of all other city executives — including Mayor Rahm Emanuel — except for new Police Chief Garry McCarthy.

Officials called the quarter-million-dollar base salary “on par” with most similar-sized districts.

Brizard, a former New York City physics teacher, is the first Chicago Public Schools CEO since the position was created in 1995 to receive a contract. The 18-page deal for the first time requires that the School CEO’s performance be reviewed annually.

It sets the three-year goal of improving everything from third-grade reading scores to college enrollment and persistence rates, while also establishing annual goals to reduce dropout rates and improve ACT scores and achievement gaps.

In addition, the contract asks Brizard to design and, “as funding becomes available, implement a performance-based reward system for leadership and pilot a model with school-based employees’’ — something Emanuel has strongly endorsed.

Three other new executives were tapped for salaries that were at least roughly $35,000 higher than their predecessors:

CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley ($215,000), who officials say will oversee four more departments than his predecessor; Chief Communications Officer Becky Carroll ($165,000), who said she will oversee both internal and external communications, and Chief of Staff Andrea Saenz ($165,000). Chief Education Officer Noemi Donoso’s $195,000 salary is up only slightly from her predecessor’s.

Emanuel endorsed the new salaries as well as a decision to give Cawley, a Winnetka resident, two years to meet the city’s residency requirement instead of the normal six months.

That means his recently adopted daughter can complete eighth grade in the suburbs.

School Board President David Vitale defended the new wages as “competitive and appropriate.’’

But teachers who were told last week the deficit-ridden system did not have the money to cover their scheduled 4 percent raises did not see it that way.

“They are giving raises to administrators but not to teachers,” said Harlan High teacher Patricia Boughton as she marched with the throng down Clark Street. “We deserve it. What have they done to prove they deserve it? They have done nothing. . . . It’s outrageous.”

Inside board chambers, teachers attacked the district’s estimate that four percent raises for unionized school workers alone would cost $100 million — not counting benefits. Hope High School teacher Kurt Hilgendorf pointed to the system’s most recent audited financial report, from 2010, indicating salaries for all employees — union and nonunion — rose by only $54 million between fiscal year 2010 and what was budgeted in fiscal year 2011. The Board’s $100 million estimated increase for pay hikes this coming school year, for fewer employees, is nearly double that amount, he said.

However, district communications chief Carroll disputed Hilgendorf’s conclusions, contending budget deficit numbers and financial statement numbers are calculated in two different ways and cannot be compared.

Also Wednesday, Chicago Teachers Union officials issued a news release slamming “hefty raises” for top district officials while insisting CTU President Karen Lewis took “a different tack when she came into office.’’ Lewis is making less than her predecessor for her dual roles at the CTU and as Illinois Federation of Teachers executive vice president — $187,584 compared to her predecessor’s $225,452 for the same two jobs, the union said.

On the academic front, Chicago Public School officials released preliminary data Wednesday indicating the number of third- through eighth-graders who passed their state achievement tests rose from 69.5 percent to 73.3 percent this year.

Despite the strong overall jump in state test results, eighth-grade scores on a different and tougher test dipped, noted new Chief Education Officer Donoso. Two percent fewer eighth graders met college-readiness standards in reading this year and 4 percent fewer met math readiness standards on a test considered a precursor to the ACT college admission test, preliminary data indicated.

Contributing: Fran Spielman

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