Interim Chicago Public Schools CEO José Torres will be paid 12% more than outgoing schools chief Janice Jackson while also getting a $5,000 relocation stipend and subsidized housing beginning Thursday.
Torres, a longtime educator and former superintendent of Elgin’s public schools, is expected to lead CPS for about one month as the search for Jackson’s permanent replacement continues. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been adamant that Torres is not a candidate for the position long-term.
The district’s contracted search firm said last week that 25 candidates had applied for the CEO job. Finalists are expected to be presented to the mayor and Board of Education President Miguel del Valle by mid-July, and the next schools chief should be picked by early August, officials said.
The school board approved a resolution last week setting out the equivalent of a $335,000 yearly salary with 15 paid vacation days and full benefits. The district will also try to find the interim schools chief subsidized housing or otherwise pay him an extra $3,000 per month. Torres, who left his last job at the helm of the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora at the end of May, will also receive $5,000 to relocate.
If Torres’s stay at CPS lasts one month as intended, he’ll have made $28,000 in salary by the start of August. His term does not have an end date and can be terminated by either side at any time. He was appointed to the interim position without a contract.
On a per-year basis, Torres’ new salary is $35,000 more than Jackson’s $300,000 even after she received a $40,000 raise in December to move closer to her counterparts in other large urban districts. At the time, schools chiefs in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami — the first, second and fourth largest districts, respectively — all earned around $350,000.
CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said the district “offered competitive compensation in order to attract a qualified candidate to serve during a transitional period for an unspecified time period on an interim basis.”
Bolton said the district’s housing assistance to Torres was a “reasonable and appropriate practice for individuals serving at the highest levels on an interim basis for an unspecified time” so he could “temporarily relocate” to Chicago.
Torres said at his introductory news conference earlier in the month that he had been in the process of moving to his native Puerto Rico.
Jackson’s last day at CPS was Wednesday after 22 years as a teacher, principal, administrator and CEO.
“Though it’s bittersweet to be leaving a job I have loved, I truly believe we have laid the groundwork to help more students reach their full potential in the years to come,” she wrote in a farewell message to families.