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CPS principals say schools remain ‘filthy’ under $340m janitorial contracts

This article was originally published on March 19, 2015.

A year after Chicago Public School hired private companies to clean schools, many principals remain completely unsatisfied with the work, saying the benefits of the $340 million contracts have yet to materialize.

At least 260 of 522 principals of district-run schools answered surveys by the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, and 200 of them said that their schools were not cleaner than before Aramark and SodexoMagic took over janitorial services. More than 200 also said the contracted services did not free them up to spend more time on instructional issues as promised, according to the survey.

The poll, taken earlier this month, also asked the principals a variety of questions about student-based budgeting, standardized testing and other central office policies.

“Our building principals know best the impact these issues are having upon faculty, children and communities,” said Clarice Berry, the organization’s president.

A survey done last summer revealed a host of sanitary problems across schools, including dead rats and bugs, and garbage sitting in schools overnight. Other schools reported equipment missing after the private managers took over.

CPS and Aramark promised better service by sending in more managers to cope with the complaints. The mayor’s tough talk to the company – to clean up the schools or clean out your desks – apparently hasn’t worked, Berry said

“It seems that those who are making these policies are deaf to our reports on the effects of their decisions,” Berry said. “Perhaps hearing the voices of all our members will awaken somebody up there.”