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.
The following changes and achievements have been accomplished since the new legislation became effective on July 1, 1995:
Contact: Office of the Mayor, (312) 744-3300
Chicago Summer Finance InstituteThe 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
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1996, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.