Cost to empty out closed schools doubles

WBEZ has learned that the logistics contract to move everything out of closed schools jumped from $8.9M to $18.9M.

December 12, 2013

WBEZ/Linda Lutton
Movers offload desks from closed schools. CPS’s contract with logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions — which is charged with emptying out the closed schools — increased from $8.9 million to $18.9 million between April and September.

Removing everything from Chicago’s closed schools will cost $10 million more than the district originally signed on for.

The price tag for moving desks, chairs, books, computers, and everything else out of 43 shuttered school buildings is now $18.9 million dollars, more than double the original $8.9 million dollar contract.

Tom Tyrrell is the Chicago Public Schools official overseeing school closings. He says one thing explains cost overruns:

“The volume of stuff that we ended up moving was three times higher than we estimated it was going to be. It was stunning how much more was in the schools than we anticipated.”  

CPS hired the Ohio-based logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions in April to handle the massive move. At the end of August, just as school was starting, Chicago’s board of education voted to increase the maximum spending allowed on the logistics contract, and the district quietly amended the contract in mid-September to pay GWS $10 million more. The increase has not been reported in the media.

The contract amendment shows GWS spent more than expected on boxes and other moving materials; warehousing, disposal and liquidation of district assets; board-ups; and IT needs.

Costs went up by $850,000 when students from closed schools enrolled in schools other than those the district had designated.

Tyrrell says CPS has made use of the movers to handle additional work, like 11 new “co-locations” where two or more schools share the same building.  And he says other costs associated with closings are coming in under budget. Tyrrell says the overall costs of closing the historic number of schools — which includes things like transition coordinators, “integration” events between closing and receiving schools, and social-emotional learning programs — will remain unchanged at $78 million.

WBEZ took a closer look at the moving contract thanks in part to a Curious City question. Listener Jenn Adams asked what happened to all the stuff in the closed schools. See our full answer here.