CHICAGO (CBS) — Cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools earn extra revenue by renting out practice fields and gyms to private organizations.
But in this Original Report, CBS 2’s Dave Savini investigates private companies with CPS connections using school space and not paying cash.
Athletic fields, gymnasiums and other parts of Chicago Public Schools often are used by private companies, including private sports clubs, like the ones Joel Anderson owned. In addition to running his private volleyball clubs he also coaches volleyball at Walter Payton.
Questions are being raised about Anderson’s old private volleyball club, Powerhouse, and another he now co-owns, Chicago Elite.
A Powerhouse flyer from 2011 advertises club camps held at Whitney Young.
Players had to pay the private club, but school records fail to show Powerhouse paid money to use Whitney Young’s space.
“There’s really no justification for that,” said Ralph Martire, who runs the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.
We also told Martire about a Chicago Elite flyer which advertised volleyball camps in 2015, at three schools: Whitney Young, Walter Payton and the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.
Records don’t indicate financial payments from Chicago Elite to any of these schools.
“A private sector entity was basically permitted to profit and profit significantly off of CPS properties at a time when overall the system is struggling to make ends meet,” Martire said.
Charging for facility use is routinely done. Over the past five years, private club High Five sports camp paid over $200,000 to the Chicago Public Schools to rent outdoor fields here Whitney Young High School
Records show from 2010 – 2015, Whitney Young and Walter Payton combined collected more than a million dollars in rent from other private organizations.
A former player and parents claimed athletes lost playing time or were cut from the Whitney Young Public High School team when they quit the private Powerhouse club, where their CPS coach also coached.
“The sad thing is that club and school volleyball shouldn’t be related at all,” the former player told CBS 2 in November. “They’re completely different things.”
Certainly, Martire says, if private clubs are playing on taxpayer-funded school property, they should pay for it.
“You just can’t allow things like this to happen,” he says.
CPS is re-examining policies related to private sports leagues with ties to CPS coaches and students.
The investigation into the November allegations is still ongoing. CPS says, “Two employees have received appropriate discipline so far but cannot release further details at this time.”
Chicago Public Schools’ inspector general is investigating the clubs use of school facilities.
Joel Anderson said, “Compensation for time and services can come in a variety of ways.”
CPS says clearer procedures for using school facilities to avoid conflicts will be established.