Best Practices

Mayor Richard M. Daley

Chicago Public Schools -- A New Start

By the Spring of 1995, it was apparent that a crisis existed in the Chicago Public School system and that extraordinary measures needed to be taken to improve schools in the city. In response to this, the State of Illinois passed legislation in May 1995 which gave Mayor Richard M. Daley direct control over the school system. The new law gave the Mayor the following powers:

Creation of a five-member Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees which would be appointed solely by the Mayor (thus eliminating the School Board Nominating Commission). By law, this new board must reduce costs of non-educational services; implement cost-saving measures; develop a long-term financial plan, including a balanced budget; streamline and strengthen management in the system; refocus resources on student achievement; and ensure ongoing academic improvement in schools through a number of measures which include training and the creation of an accountability council.

Creation of a corporate structure to manage the school system, which includes Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Education Officer positions, as well as a Board of Trustees set up similarly to a board of directors.

  • Establishment of block grants which increase flexibility across certain funding categories.
  • Waiver of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. A school principal can get union contract changes if they are approved by 51 percent of the teaching personnel at any given school.

  • No-strike clause for 18 months, commencing in July 1995. Changes in the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act exclude the following subjects as collective bargaining topics: development of charter schools, privatizing of services of personnel in bargaining units, class size and use of staff for experimental and pilot programs, and Reductions in Force (RIFs).

  • Broader powers of remediation given to the Chief Executive Officer to intervene in failing schools. These new powers give the CEO the authority to close chronically underperforming schools that fail to improve.

The following changes and achievements have been accomplished since the new legislation became effective on July 1, 1995:


  • $1.3 Billion Deficit Eliminated -- After Mayor Daley appointed a new school board and management team to govern the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the management team balanced the budget by eliminating a $1.3 billion deficit over four years and developed a four-year balanced budget. The new budget provides financial security for the next four years without increasing class size or sacrificing educational services. Also, the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees approved the CPS 1996-97 operating budget of $2.7 billion. It includes funding for nearly two dozen initiatives and allocates significant funding towards several education programs including:
  • $5 million for intervention and remediation programs, including school intervention teams, to promote a "back to basics" approach toward boosting classroom performance.
  • $10 million to provide extended school days and after-school programs.
  • $5 million to set up corporate-supported vocational and apprenticeship programs.
  • $10 million to create a system of alternative schools for violent youths and dropouts.
  • Nearly $1 million to promote small schools.

  • $806 Million Earmarked for Capital Improvement -- The CPS earmarked $806 million for a proposed five-year capital improvement plan for the construction, upgrade, replacement and renovation of school buildings and other CPS facilities. The capital improvement plan is the first long-term facility improvement plan in more than five years.

  • Four-Year Teachers Contract Negotiated -- The Chicago Public Schools signed a four-year contract with the Chicago Teachers Union before the start of the school year, effectively eliminating the threat of a teachers strike and promoting long-term stability.

  • $4 Million in Waste Discovered -- The new management team discovered an estimated $4 million worth of various materials and supplies stockpiled at four satellite school storage areas and a storage area at CPS headquarters. These were promptly delivered to schools across the city.

  • High Marks for Credit Ratings and First Bond Issue in 17 Years -- Three major bond rating agencies gave the Chicago Public Schools high investment-grade credit ratings. The CPS received a Baa from the Moody's rating agency, and two BBB ratings from the Standard & Poor's and Fitch rating agencies. Also, the Chicago Public Schools has sold general obligation certificates of participation valued at $45 million, marking the school system's first direct securities issuance in 17 years. Proceeds from the certificates -- also called equipment notes -- will be used to purchase textbooks, computer hardware and software, an integrated financial database and a computer network that will provide universal database access to every public school.

Classroom/School Efforts:

  • Job Training Academy -- In an effort to provide high school juniors and seniors with training that integrates academic and vocational skills, the Chicago Public Schools and Shell Oil developed the Shell Youth Services Academy for Chicago. The privately funded academy gives students the opportunity to receive school credit for 80 hours of classroom training that stresses the relationship between academic and job skills.

  • Small Schools Initiative -- The small schools initiative is designed to create new small schools or schools-within-schools, and expand existing small schools throughout Chicago. In October 1995, the CPS announced the selection of three schools to occupy the newly created Creiger Multiplex, followed by the selection of 18 additional small school sites in February 1996.

  • Leadership Training for Principals -- The Chicago Public Schools implemented a new program of leadership training and support for CPS principals. The six-month training initiative is designed to provide school leaders with three years of experience or less with solid business tools and proven educational strategies.

  • Creation of Alternative Schools -- The Chicago Public Schools has opened alternative schools for dropouts and disruptive youth in each of its six regions. The schools provide a specialized curriculum designed to meet the needs of dropouts and at-risk students. The programs will serve more that 1,000 youths.

  • "Children First" Education Plan -- The Chicago Public Schools unveiled "Children First," a comprehensive education plan designed to improve student achievement and bolster accountability in the system. The plan focuses on three key areas: system-wide accountability, classroom-focused school improvement programs and student-oriented initiatives.


  • State Waivers -- The Board of Trustees sought 12 waivers from the state government on rules and school codes that could generate annual savings of up to $3.9 million. The majority of the waivers were granted.

  • Uniform Discipline Code -- The Chicago Public Schools strengthened its Uniform Discipline Code to include mandatory expulsion of students in possession of firearms.

  • Student Promotion Policy -- In an effort to eliminate social promotions, the Chicago Public Schools strengthened its elementary schools student promotion policy. Under the new policy, underachieving third, sixth and eighth grade students will be required to attend a six-week summer bridge program before graduating or being promoted to the next grade level.

  • Employee Residency Rule -- Paul Vallas, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, announced that there would be a crackdown on the more than 3,000 CPS employees who live outside of Chicago in violation of Board of Education policy.

Support Programs:

  • After School Programs -- The Chicago Public Schools issued requests for proposals for schools to establish their own after-school programs. The programs will provide students with an opportunity to participate in educational, vocational, social and cultural activities after school. The programs in elementary schools began in early fall, while high school programs began in November.

  • Summer Youth Program -- This past May, Mayor Daley announced plans to open public schools over the summer and provide more educational and recreational jobs and activities for schoolchildren.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (312) 744-3300

Chicago Summer Finance Institute

The key to the success of the Chicago Summer Finance Institute internship program is the fact that it is the product of a partnership between the private and public sectors. Its goal is to extend employment and educational opportunities to students across the city. Past corporate contributors and sponsors include companies such as LaSalle National Bank, KPMG Peat Marwick, and Merrill Lynch.

The Chicago Summer Finance Institute was founded by Mayor Daley in 1991 to provide meaningful summer jobs for Chicago high school students and to introduce them to the financial services sector. The program is completely financed by contributions and sponsorships from the financial and legal communities. This past year, 50 firms donated their time and $180,000 to the program. The Summer Finance Institute provides the interns with work readiness instruction, classroom training and mentor relationships.

During its inaugural year, 25 positions were made available for student workers. This past year, the Chicago Summer Finance Institute employed 104 student workers. High achievers from Chicago's public, parochial and private high schools who live in the city and have an annual family income of $40,000 or less are targeted.

Participation in the program gives students a chance to have a meaningful summer job that can help to further their careers after high school. They are given the opportunity to see and participate in what happens in the financial and legal communities. They also make money to pay for college. In the last few years, Chicago's high school students have worked as: stock and bond assistants at the Board of Trade, sales assistants at investment banking firms, paralegals, and accounting and auditing assistants.

Weekly seminars are an integral part of the program. Through lectures, students hear about career opportunities from securities, law and accounting professionals. Many of the seminars include a chance for the students to put what they have learned into action. A tour and presentation of the Board of Trade and LaSalle Bank, as well as a public finance case study give students a better understanding of the actual work performed at these institutions.

In the summer of 1995, 12 privately funded scholarships for college were awarded to student participants at the end of the seven-week program. Awards are based on attendance, evidence of savings, written and oral presentations, a daily log and a final essay.

Contact: Walter Knorr, Chief Financial Officer, City of Chicago, (312) 744-7100

Child Support Enforcement Ordinance

Poverty is often an impediment to learning for children. While $432 million was due in child support in Illinois in 1995, only 56 percent of that amount was collected, representing a cost of $241 million to taxpayers through their support of city, state and federal programs. Often, the lack of child support payments leads to a mother's dependence on welfare. To combat the problem of uncollected child support, Mayor Daley proposed the city's first Child Support Enforcement Ordinance which was enacted on February 7, 1996. The ordinance ties compliance with child support arrearage judgments to obtaining city business licenses, jobs, contracts, and loans.

Mayor Daley explained the impact of unpaid child support payments on Chicago by saying, "The cost to the city and to local taxpayers of unpaid child support is enormous. Many of these children and their families are left destitute and are forced to rely on city services - such as health care, homeless shelters, and others. Further, these families do not have to be destitute because there is a parent who is capable of providing, but is not living up to his or her responsibilities."

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office and the Cook County Circuit Court have agreed to cooperate with the City of Chicago to establish a joint database and share information on delinquent parents.

The four-pronged attack (loan, contract and business license denial, as well as employee penalties) on deadbeat parents establishes that business owners are subject to child support compliance. About 70,000 businesses are licensed by the city. The city's Department of Consumer Services compares the "deadbeat list" against lists of business applicants and licensees up for renewal. Where matches occur, licenses are denied or not renewed unless the deadbeat parent submits specified types of evidence.

The new ordinance also enables the Commissioners of Housing and Planning and Development to deny city loans and grants to potential borrowers and grantees if they are delinquent in their child support payments. Loans are not closed until the deadbeat parent has furnished specified evidence of compliance.

City contractors are also targeted under the ordinance. All contract bidders must submit affidavits disclosing whether any of their substantial owners are delinquent on any court-ordered child support arrearage. In addition, the city checks all substantial owners against the deadbeat list submitted by the Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Finally, the ordinance establishes that city employees delinquent in child support payments are subject to progressive discipline and garnishment of wages.

As a result of the four-pronged ordinance, which ties compliance with city privileges, many deadbeat parents in Chicago will be forced to contribute to their children's well being. The Chicago Park District, the Chicago Board of Education, Cook County and other local governmental entities are examining the ordinance in hopes of developing similar programs.

Contact: Office of Child Support, (312) 74-CHILD

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352

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