Responding to comments from several people at this morning’s Board of Education meeting, CEO Ron Huberman got (almost) right to the point on three issues: sick time for contracted janitors, payroll problems and pension payments.
Several janitors who clean CPS campuses but work for another company complained that they don’t get any sick time. That’s bad because the janitors don’t want to spread illness to students and want to be able to take care of their own kids when their kids get sick, the janitors said.
The current janitorial contract expires next year, Huberman said. CPS is “sympathetic” to the issue, he said, and it will ask would-be companies to address the need for sick time when they bid on the next contract.
Huberman said he’ll want to see “that they have a plan to compensate for that in a meaningful and humanistic way.”
That's an awfully poetic way of talking about accrued sick time. To the point, janitors want to see changes happen sooner.
“A year is a long time, sir. That’s a lot of kids getting sick,” janitor Edward Washington said. “I really think this issue should be resolved before the new school year starts.”
McGuire, the Chicago Teachers Union secretary, complained loudly (her lips were almost against the microphone) that teachers have been getting bizarre paychecks without any indication of why.
“Our members have been overpaid, underpaid and in some cases not paid for work that they have been done,” McGuire said.
Huberman pledged to fix the problems.
“The payrolls are wrong. I’m agreeing with you. It’s totally unacceptable,” he said. “I’m infuriated about payroll.”
Huberman and Board President Michael Scott called on the payroll office to fix things fast.
“I would suggest very strongly that you put your best people on this and find a way to resolve this as quickly as possible,” Scott told a payroll official whom he made stand up in the middle of the audience.
And on pensions:
Huberman was quick to shoot down “misinformation” that CPS was seeking a pension holiday and putting new employees on a lower-paying pension plan – suggestions that Young High School teacher Jay Rehak raised.
“We’re going to be paying somewhere on the order of … $100 million in new funds that would otherwise be going into new classrooms that will go into the pension fund” over the next two years, Huberman said.
Money for pensions instead of classrooms? A few people in the audience groaned at that point.
Huberman cited a “legal and moral obligation” to fulfill pension promises, but also said tough reforms were needed soon, or else those obligations would sink the CPS budget.
“It’s every state pension, every city pension are in the same places,” Huberman said. “This is a terrible position that we’re in.”