More overruns: Cost to empty out closed Chicago schools now set to triple

The original $8.9M contract with CPS moving company has already been increased once, to $18.9M. Wednesday the school board will vote on whether to hike it to $30.9M.

December 17, 2013

WBEZ/Linda Lutton
Movers haul books from closed schools to shuttered Von Humboldt Elementary for storage. The amount the district is paying to empty the closed schools is poised to triple.

Chicago’s board of education will consider yet another significant increase in what it is paying to empty out Chicago’s closed school buildings.

Back in April—even before the vote to close 50 schools—the district signed a contract with logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions to move all the things out of schools. Price tag: $8.9 million.

GWS worked throughout the summer to inventory and move computers, books, furniture and other supplies from closed schools into so-called Welcoming Schools.

In September, the district quietly doubled the amount of the contract, to $18.9 million. Chicago Public Schools’ closing czar said the reason for the overrun had to do with the volume of stuff movers found in the 43 shuttered buildings they are emptying out.

Now, the agenda for Wednesday’s school board meeting shows the board will vote on another increase, this time to  $30.9 million, more than tripling the amount of the original contract with GWS.

A CPS document says the hike is necessary to board up, fence, and install security posts around 30 buildings.

And it will cover the cost of redistributing materials around the district. Elementary school principals have been told not to purchase any more books until the district holds an online book fair in January. It’s trying to get rid of a million books it has from the closing schools and its warehouse.

Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her @WBEZeducation.