Chicago’s Board of Education plans to vote Wednesday on the final piece of privatizing all its school facilities work amid reports of dirty schools, awarding $60 million more to SodexoMAGIC.
SodexoMAGIC, one of the original companies CPS hired in 2014 to manage facilities work in a handful of its schools, and a campaign donor to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, will add a zone of about 34 elementary schools that Chicago Public Schools officials had intended to give to another company.
But that company, GCA Educational Services Central States Inc., turned out to have a poor history of protecting its janitors from sexual harassment, causing CPS to abruptly pull its recommendation from the public agenda just before the board was scheduled to vote on the three-year, $60.6 million contract, as the Chicago Sun-Times has reported.
CPS’ Chief Operating Officer Arnie Rivera had to make the unusual announcement at the meeting but didn’t publicly explain why he was no longer recommending GCA to manage the South Side elementary schools where some of the worst problems were discovered during cleanliness inspections. The Sun-Times confirmed it was because GCA’s parent company, ABM Industries Inc., has had a series of problems keeping its custodians safe on the job.
SodexoMAGIC, partly owned by former NBA star Magic Johnson, plans to use as a subcontractor a Detroit-based company whose owner almost secured three zones of schools now destined for Sodexo. Ringo Services Inc. will help Sodexo comply with CPS requirements to give a percentage of work to minority-owned businesses. Owner Dan Ringo used to work for Sodexo as a former facilities operations manager in Chicago “in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools,” as he wrote on his LinkedIn.com profile.
His previous company, Ringo LCG LLC, was suddenly informed in January 2017 that its bid was canceled minutes before CPS publicized its agenda, giving a combined $427 million in facilities work to SodexoMAGIC and to Aramark.
Neither Ringo nor a spokesman for SodexoMAGIC could be reached Monday for comment.
CPS spokesman Michael Passman did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
SodexoMAGIC currently holds about $419 million in facilities contracts through 2021. Aramark has another $290 million, as CPS has been gradually privatizing all schools’ facilities services such as landscaping, pest control and cleaning in all its schools since 2014.
Meanwhile, in December, CPS inspections found that 91 of 125 schools examined for cleanliness scored failing marks as inspectors found mouse droppings, bathrooms that lacked hot water and soap and other problems in kitchens.
On the eve of the July 4 holiday, CPS announced the findings from conducting “blitz” inspections at the rest of its schools, which showed some improvement after officials had scrambled to fix cleanliness problems, but still left one in four schools stuck with failing marks. Officials still will not release copies of those inspections reports.