August 6, 2010
Analysis and strategic targeting of external consulting services has allowed Chicago Public Schools to steadily and significantly reduce the amount of such spending compared with similar expenses in recent years, CPS officials announced today.
At the end of the 2010 fiscal year, CPS had reduced consultant spending by more than $74 million from FY 2009, a savings of almost 30 percent. In FY 2010, the District had $170 million in committed consulting dollars compared with $244 million in fiscal ’09.
Nine out of every 10 dollars were spent on citywide or school-based services, said CPS Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman. Of the committed consulting dollars in FY 2010, $50 million was for federally mandated tutoring (Supplemental Educational Services), $36 million was committed by schools and $30 million was for citywide school programs.
Savings in FY ’10 were achieved primarily through an $11 million reduction in committed consulting dollars for Central Office and $58 million in reductions for citywide consultants.
“In managing through a deficit that neared a half-billion dollars at the start of the 2010 fiscal year, which began last July, CPS officials acted, and continue to act, to substantially shrink consultant spending,” said Huberman.
“The fiscal climate in which we are currently operating has led us to examine every area of our spending. We are charged with managing and operating as efficiently as possible. We will continue to seek additional operational efficiencies with the goal being a corresponding reduction in expenses,” said Huberman.
The District employs consultants and contractors to augment existing staff resources and to meet specialized needs, Huberman said. Consultants are paid to provide actual and direct services – such as tutoring – and not merely to “consult” on such services, the CEO emphasized.
“While ‘consulting’ might sound like something that is purely optional, in fact consulting services cover a wide array of services our schools and students need – many of them mandated by the federal or state government,” Huberman said.
Because some 90 percent of consulting dollars were committed to school-based, Area Office and citywide services, “The major focus of those dollars is to benefit school communities and programs, and educational enrichment,” Huberman said.
Central Office committed consulting dollars in FY 10 amounted to $17.1 million. Of that, 25 percent – or $4.3 million -- went for school programs that include principal participation and development, educational programming and assessments, and special education services.
The lion’s share, $10.6 million or 62 percent, of Central Office committed consulting dollars pay for critical operational functions; among those are finance, information technology systems, temporary staffing, specialized human resource and legal needs.
The smallest portion -- 13 percent, or $2.2 million -- of Central Office committed consultant dollars focused on improving organizational performance and special projects. These funds for strategic consultants amounted to only 1 percent of the District’s total consulting commitments.
“It should be clear that our thrust has been to use available funds to support and benefit school-based programs, services and initiatives,” Huberman said.
“We will continue to re-examine the need for consultant services on an ongoing basis,” Huberman said. “Just as we continue to find efficiencies and streamline Central Office and citywide services, we are committed to maintaining the same discipline around consultants and contractors.”
Chicago Public Schools serves 417,855 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.