CPS facilities chief Clarence Carson stepped out amid complaints about dirty schools

The Chicago Public Schools Facility Manager is in the midst of the difficult management of the School Cleaning Services District that left some children learning in unsanitary conditions this fall, three sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

As of Thursday, Clarence Carson, an experienced CPS parent in the facility and brought downtown to help with school cleaning issues, is no longer working at his $ 175,000-a-year job.

Clarence carson
Chicago Public Schools

His departure comes less than a week after The Sun-Times documented conditions so bad at an elementary school in the southwest that teachers and administrators themselves were handling mops and brooms. Eberhart students, parents and teachers complained of seeing cockroaches, as well as floors and bathrooms not being washed in the absence of sufficient guards for staff at the school. ‘school.

The district did not say how many other schools were facing cleanliness issues, but crews were paid overtime to keep buildings “cleaned and up to CPS” across the city last month.

CPS officials did not immediately comment on Carson’s departure around five weeks after the tenure of new CPS CEO Pedro Martinez, who returned to the city he grew up in after leading the San Antonio school district began. , in Texas.

Carson could not be immediately reached.

Ivan Hansen, currently executive director of planning and construction of CPS for $ 162,843 per year, will take over the facilities as interim director, a source told The Sun-Times.

The district’s decision to privatize babysitting work in 2014 – awarding multi-million dollar contracts with concierge companies Aramark and Sodexo – has since come under criticism. The agreements left CPS, and especially principals, with little oversight or say in the maintenance of school buildings.

But despite the huge cost – the district has paid $ 920 million to private janitorial companies over the past eight years – the system has failed to keep schools clean. This led to the ousting of Carson’s predecessor, Leslie Fowler, in 2018. Complaints and Sun-Times reporting in the weeks leading up to Fowler’s resignation documented the extent of the filth in schools in the district.

Carson’s idea last year was for the district to take back control of those services and abandon Aramark and Sodexo.

But his plans were delayed, which led to the district extending the contracts of the two companies – and paying them each millions of dollars more than originally planned.

Then, despite his stated goals to turn things around, Carson – who received a raise of $ 5,000 over the summer – surprisingly retained Aramark for child care and expanded his work to cover all schools in the district. , including those previously cleaned by Sodexo. Philadelphia-based Aramark ended up with a new three-year, $ 369 million contract. CPS also awarded a three-year, $ 375 million contract to Chicago firm Jones Lang LaSalle to help the district oversee its facilities.

CPS ended up taking over the management of the system by private companies, as proposed by Carson. This transition took place on October 1.

Carson’s departure reflects more turmoil in the troubled management of school facilities. He was hired in large part because he had facilities management training which at the time district operations manager Arnie Rivera said could help correct the issues.

While Fowler, his predecessor, had no experience in facilities when she was promoted to director of food services by then-CEO Forrest Claypool, Carson had obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree in construction and in Facilities Management from Michigan State University, then spent 14 years in various facilities roles in the private and public sectors at Allianz Global, McShane Construction, Berglund Construction, Arcadis and others.

In a recent story titled “Windy City Revival: How One [Facilities Manager] Turned Around Chicago Public School Facilities ”for the FacilitiesNet website, Rivera said he turned to Carson after there were“ front page stories about school filth, and I was like, we can’t have that. This cannot be a major point of vulnerability for our neighborhood.

“I was looking for a rock star, knowing that facilities management was a major vulnerability for the school district,” Rivera told the website. “Clarence did not apply and had no interest. I looked for it. I don’t think he was in a real rush to do it.

Carson was a volunteer parent at his daughter’s school when Rivera reached out. In this profile, Carson said there were clear issues at CPS that he believed he could fix.

“I reorganized our department and created several new positions to help us be successful,” he said.

“We will grow this team, have longer tentacles and provide even more control, more transparency, through direct control over contracts through our departments.”

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