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CPS proposes giving Aramark, Sodexo another 3 months, $74M for facilities management

The extension will be proposed to the Board of Education for approval at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

CPS is extending its contract with Aramark and Sodexo.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools is planning to extend its maligned relationship with two private facilities management companies for three more months — at a cost of up to $74 million — after saying last spring that the yearslong contracts would end this June.

Sodexo and Aramark have managed cleaning and maintenance of district buildings since 2014, first under a pilot program that included a few dozen schools and eventually through a district-wide contract by 2018. Before then, school engineers and principals oversaw their own facilities.

In announcing the move last May to regain control of those functions, district officials said they would re-up the contracts for one year — through this June — and $180 million to give themselves some runway to implement the change in its 600-plus buildings.

CPS officials did not answer questions Monday about why the extension is necessary. The extension will be proposed to the Board of Education for approval at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

Clarence Carson, the district’s facilities chief, told principals in an email Monday that the district still intends to transition to a new structure “in the months ahead” but an extension was necessary “to ensure essential facility services are not interrupted.”

“We know how important it is for this eventual transition to proceed as smoothly as possible, and this extension will help ensure a successful transition as we work through our evaluation of vendors to serve under a new management structure,” Carson wrote.

The outsourcing of those management responsibilities has long been viewed by critics as a short-term cost-saver that disregarded school cleanliness and upkeep.

A Chicago Sun-Times series in 2018 revealed filthy, pest-filled conditions at dozens of schools managed by Aramark that failed surprise inspections, even as the district signed contracts to expand the company’s work.

Pending board approval, the contracts will be set to end Sep. 30. As it stands, the district will have spent up to $535 million on these services since the fall of 2018.