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CPS Overestimated School Closing Savings By $122 Million

By Amy Cavanaugh in News on May 5, 2013 7:00PM

Image credit: alamosbasement
Last week, the Chicago Public Schools adjusted the amount of money the system will save by closing 54 schools and 61 school buildings. Originally, they projected they'd save $560 million, but the Educational Facilities Task Force Master Plan readjusted that number to $437.8 million.

The Sun-Times reported that "CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley said the difference resulted from outdated surveys of the buildings involved, some of them as old as 10 years and just a few pages long. The old building surveys also only estimated hard construction costs, he said. The new ones account for things such as consulting and design fees."

WBEZ reported that "parents, activists, and even aldermen have complained that the district’s estimated cost for fixing their schools is inflated."

Parents at Trumbull Elementary in Edgewater, for instance, got notes home in March saying it would cost $16.3 million to repair and upgrade their school. It was one of the reasons listed for closing the school.

“The amount that is indicated is significantly higher than we would actually spend if in fact you were going to keep that school open and invest,” Alderman Patrick O'Connor said at an April 9 public meeting on the proposed closing of Trumbull. “Clearly, if you wanted to make it top of the line, $16 million would be a nice investment. But if you just wish to maintain the school and keep it open, you’re more in the area of $4 or $5 (million),” O’Connor said.

The Board of Education will be voting on the closings on May 22, and according to Cawley, "they’ll have the best possible savings projections available."