An Open Letter to the City Colleges of Chicago Community College District 508
Board of Trustees
Dear Chairman Cabrera:
As chairman of the of the City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees, we the concerned citizens of the City of Chicago want to know when you plan to address the questionable hiring practices and fiscal mismanagement that have been allowed to take place since the appointment of Chancellor Cheryl Hyman.
As trustees the members of the board not only have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpaying citizens of Chicago, they are also responsible to the students, faculty and staff of the City Colleges of Chicago. As Board Chairman it is your responsibility to conduct the Board’s public and executive session meetings and serve as the final signatory for all District 508 contracts, hires and policies.
Now more than ever there is less transparency with the inner workings of the City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees. Less transparency leads to less accountability. While email announcements are sent out to employees of the city colleges on a regular basis, they fail to address the questions below. Chairman Cabrera, we the citizens of Chicago respectfully ask that you address the following:
1. FISCAL MISMANAGEMENT
a. Each of the seven colleges was required to cut 2.5 million dollars from their operating budgets. Where and for what purpose has that money been reallocated?
b. The “Reinvention” describes the need to better serve our students yet hundreds of staff that directly supported our students was terminated in an effort to comply with Chancellor Hyman’s mandatory budget cuts. How does this advance the goals of the “Reinvention”?
c. Why was it necessary to hire a “Chief Advisor to the Board of Trustees” at an annual salary of $110,000? Is this person, Jamie Guzman a friend or relative of someone on the Board? What kind of advising is being offered? Prior Boards did not require such “advising”, why do you? Why is it necessary to do a complete gut renovation of the City Colleges of Chicago Board Room? How does a more lavish Board room improve student retention and graduation rates?
d. Why is there suddenly a need for a COO for the City Colleges of Chicago? The City Colleges has a Chancellor, a Provost/Chief Academic Officer and a Board Chairman. Why did the Board feel the need to approve the hire of a COO, Mr. Jim Frankenbach at an annual salary of $130,000? What is most concerning about the hiring of Mr. Frankenbach is that he most recently served on the Reinvention’s Capital Planning Advisory Council. Do you now reward members of the Reinvention committees with high paying positions based on their service to the Reinvention Initiative? This seems at best improper.
e. On February 20, 2011 Chancellor Hyman sent out an all CCC email indicating that she would recommend that Mr. Donald Laackman be appointed President of Harold Washington College. As you well know, Mr. Laackman is a member of the Civic Consulting Alliance. The Reinvention website states that the Civic Consulting Alliance is providing Pro Bono support to the Reinvention Initiative. A position of President at an annual salary of $140, 000 is not pro bono support, but rather quid pro quo. Again this is highly unethical and highly improper. As Board Chairman why are you failing to address these conflicts of interest? Which Civic Alliance Consulting member will be given the next Presidential Post? Lincoln Chandler? Brian Fabes?
f. Why was it necessary for the Chancellor to hire a Chief of Staff, Ronald Anderson at an annual salary of $120, 000? The mayor has a Chief of Staff; the President of the United States has a Chief of Staff, why does the Chancellor of a community college district need a Chief of Staff.
g. Why was it necessary for the Board to approve the lease of an eight passenger sport utility vehicle for Ms. Hyman’s personal use at a monthly note of $736.84? Many of the security vehicles on the campuses are out of service, needing repair or replacement. Campus security vehicles provide mobile patrols for the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors. Why is the Board failing to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors by failing to ensure that campus police have functioning patrol vehicles?
h. Why would the Board trust Ms. Cheryl Hyman, an individual who has demonstrated that she is unable to manage her own personal finances (by filing bankruptcy on January 14, 2000) to manage the fiscal affairs of the District, which includes preparation of an annual budget which is approximately one half billion dollars, and evaluations of the District’s financial position as described in the Board Rules? Does the Board really feel comfortable taking budgetary recommendations that will impact one hundred and twenty thousand City Colleges of Chicago students from Ms. Cheryl Hyman?
2. REDUCTION IN FORCE
a. CCC Board Rule 3.19 states “The Board shall approve all reductions in force. Reductions in force may be approved due to lack of funds, lack of work, contracting of functions, reorganizations or other reasons approved by the Board” Since none of the aforementioned conditions existed during the most recent Reduction In Force, what is the Board’s rationale for eliminating tutors, financial aid staffers, academic support staff, laboratory technicians and clerical support staff ?
b. When will the next Reduction in Force occur and what will be the rationale?
c. Why are staff at the District office having discussions about reducing our full time clerical support staff to part time status when they are the life blood of every college and so many have already been terminated unnecessarily?
a. Why did the Chancellor recommend for hire Mr. Laackman, of the Civic Consulting Alliance and state that he would not have to reapply for his position under the new Presidential Performance Measures, three full days before the Board of Trustees adopted the new Performance Measures for Presidents?
b. As a Board how could you possibly support the dismissal of Six College Presidents, claim to do a national search utilizing an outside firm, yet allow the Chancellor to oversee this firm? Why is it that the Board would not allow the sitting Presidents to continue under the new Performance Measures and hold them accountable if they fail to meet them?
c. Board Rule 2.2.3 states “The Board shall conduct an annual review of the performance of the Chancellor. Such review shall be conducted by such persons, designated by the Board, and in such manner, as the Board may deem appropriate”. Ms. Hyman has been Chancellor for a year now; when and how does the Board plan to conduct her performance review? What are Ms. Hyman’s Performance Measures? Will these measures be sent out in a public email? Will this be a transparent process or a process conducted in the safety of a closed Board session?
Chairman Cabrera, Illinois is currently considered one of the most corrupt states in the country. Please don’t contribute to that despicable legacy. Please address these concerns as many are wondering if the current Board of Trustees is nothing more than a rubber stamp for Ms. Hyman.
Please consider the fact that radical decisions to change the City Colleges of Chicago that are made at the District office will negatively impact our students. Change for the sake of change is not the solution. Education takes place in the classroom, those who have little appreciation for, or understanding of what happens in the classroom seldom make sound decisions.
Our students deserve better, our city deserves better.
Cc: Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel
Chicago City Council
Illinois State Representatives
Illinois Community College Board
Higher Learning Commission