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Teachers Question Spending At City Colleges

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College Students (Credit: CBS 2)

College Students (Credit: CBS 2)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Teachers at the City Colleges of Chicago were expressing concerns on Wednesday about the leadership of top administrators.

As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, many teachers said they have no confidence in the chancellor’s office, citing millions of dollars in questionable spending.

So far, union representatives at individual City Colleges of Chicago have taken informal “no confidence” votes regarding Chancellor Cheryl Hyman. Those representatives were meeting at Malcolm X College late Wednesday afternoon to discuss a joint resolution to declare to send to the district office.

Meantime, some students also were voicing their own concerns about spending at City Colleges.

“There are many tutors that’s being cut from this whole spending process and they’re trying to make all the tutors online. I see a lot of disconnection with all the funds being misspent and students need this technology,” said Tamesha Carrol, vice president of student government at Malcolm X College.

“When our chancellor first came, she was talking about bettering schools. And it’s, like, hurting students because all the resources are fading away,” she added.

Much of the faculty is angry about spending at the district office. According to board documents, new hires total $3.63 million in funding and consultants’ contracts total $2.2 million.

“Meantime, they’ve cut back on student services, they’ve gotten rid of a lot of different deans that were here who’ve worked closely with the students.”

A Chicago media firm has gotten $500,000 for marketing and branding the campaign to “Reinvent the City Colleges” and another $54,000 for helping Chancellor Cheryl Hyman — who Mayor Richard M. Daley recruited from ComEd — to write and publish her vision for the future of the City Colleges of Chicago.

Hyman is already paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for communications staffers.

“You cannot run an educational system like ComEd,” said Malcolm X student Jokari Miller. “We see what’s wrong with ComEd, we see some of the problems that they had.”

But at least one faculty member said he was confident in Hyman’s leadership.

“I’m not going to say we are a perfect system. I have the utmost confidence in the chancellor and I believe she’s trying to move us forward,” City Colleges teacher Keith Jordan said. “In terms of the budget, I do not have that specific information before me, but I would have to say these issues that I’m hearing are really not new issues.”

Tuesday night, a City Colleges spokesperson denied requests to speak directly to Hyman. On Wednesday, similar requests were ignored.

The spokesperson also ignored requests for specific information on what taxpayers were getting for the $2.2 million in consulting contracts.

The City Colleges did issue a statement Wednesday that a new team has been put in place to further streamline the budget and make investments in students’ educational experience.

Officials said they have increased the number of advisors, tutors and mentors. They also claimed to have cut the budget by $30 million, which was puzzling given that budget documents showed a $50 million spending increase over last year.

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