WBEZ | aramark http://www.wbez.org/tags/aramark Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Schools CEO: privatizing janitorial services not 'as smooth as we would like' http://www.wbez.org/news/schools-ceo-privatizing-janitorial-services-not-smooth-we-would-110799 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/photo bbb at city club.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett admitted Monday that turning over management of school janitors to two private companies hasn&rsquo;t been going very well.</p><p>&ldquo;Obviously it has not been as smooth as we would like,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said. &ldquo;We have met with principals. We continue to do so and I think in a very short time, you will see a change.&rdquo;</p><p>In February, the Chicago Board of Education awarded two contracts, worth a total of $340 million, to two private companies, Aramark and SodexoMAGIC. These two contracts combined make it one of the largest privatization moves of any school district across the country. Under the agreements, SodexoMAGIC would oversee 33 schools, while Aramark would oversee the remaining 500-some district-run schools.</p><p>CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley sold the idea to board members as making schools cleaner with new equipment, such as &ldquo;zamboni-like&rdquo; floor cleaning machines, and making principals&rsquo; lives easier, with <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/chicago-further-privatizes" target="_blank">&ldquo;Jimmy John&rsquo;s-like&rdquo; customer service</a> when supplies run low.</p><p>But so far, the outsourcing seems to have led to dirty schools, property damage, poor communication and janitors being laid off. Those complaints came to light in a survey of more than 230 principals conducted by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.</p><p>WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767" target="_blank">first reported the story</a> early last week.</p><p>On Friday, 475 janitors officially received layoff notices. Byrd-Bennett says the district is not responsible for those cuts.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not laying anybody off,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s up to the contractors that we&rsquo;ve contracted with. They are going to come up with a system for us that will get the work done.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS employs 825 custodian positions that are covered by SEIU Local 73 and none of those positions are being cut, according to district officials. However, many of those board-funded janitors have been reassigned to cover other schools as a result of the layoffs.</p><p>District officials continue to insist that schools are not dirty and that the private contracts with Aramark and SodexoMAGIC are saving them money.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/schools-ceo-privatizing-janitorial-services-not-smooth-we-would-110799 Custodial contract causing problems at start of school year http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/board of ed_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s one of those jobs that you don&rsquo;t really notice, until it&rsquo;s not done.</p><p>Dave Belanger knows firsthand. He once worked as a part-time, fill-in janitor for extra income early in his teaching career.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve scrubbed toilets and washed bathrooms and cleaned classrooms and I know if you don&rsquo;t keep on top of that every single day, it just quadruples,&quot; Belanger said. &ldquo;A school that could start out clean on Monday by Friday, if things haven&rsquo;t been done, is really almost a pig sty.&rdquo;<br /><br />Dave Belanger is now the principal of Hanson Park Elementary School in the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood on the city&rsquo;s Northwest side. He said, this year, the deep clean that usually takes place in schools over the summer was &ldquo;the scariest and least efficient&rdquo; process he has seen over the 14 years he&rsquo;s worked for CPS.<br /><br />&ldquo;Many teachers spent a half a day to a day, last week, before kids came in, scrubbing their classrooms, tops of bookcases, window sills, walls, baseboards, things that would normally be cleaned were not cleaned,&rdquo; Belanger said.<br /><br />Belanger is just one of more than 230 principals recently surveyed by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. The results reveal problems across Chicago Public Schools&mdash;dirty classrooms, damaged materials, theft and an overall lack of communication.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Shifting control of custodians</strong></span></p><p>How CPS got to this point is complicated. For years, custodians fell under the oversight of each school&rsquo;s building engineer. That changed a few years ago, when budget officials centralized the building engineers and put custodians under principals. CPS had previously subcontracted with private cleaning services, like We Clean and Total Facilities.<br /><br />Then this past spring, the Chicago Board of Education awarded a $260 million contract to a company called Aramark to oversee nearly all 2,400-plus janitors in the school system. Another private company&mdash;SodexoMAGIC&mdash;was awarded an $80 million contract to oversee 33 schools.&nbsp;</p><p>Under the contract, private custodial manaagers have been assigned to oversee groups of 15 to 20 schools, according to Leslie Norgren, the district&rsquo;s director of asset management.</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:13.5pt;margin-left: 0in;line-height:16.5pt;vertical-align:baseline">At the board meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley talked up the privatization deal to board members, saying Aramark and SodexoMAGIC would be &ldquo;like Jimmy John&rsquo;s,&rdquo; so when a principal called with a need for say, paper towels, &ldquo;the guy is showing up with more paper towels before the principal hangs up the phone.&rdquo;<span style="font-size:10.5pt; font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;color:red"><o:p></o:p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/137054470&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></span></p><p>The private companies now oversee subcontractors that employ thousands of custodians as well as 825 board-funded custodians that are unionized and covered under a contract negotiated by the Service Employees International Union Local 73. SEIU Local 73 did not respond to requests for comment about how the change to Aramark has affected its members.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Communication problems and more &#39;red tape&#39;</strong></span><br /><br />District officials promised the new contract would not only save money, but would also lead to cleaner schools and give principals more time to focus on teaching and learning.<br /><br />But that hasn&rsquo;t happened. Teresa Chrobak- Prince, principal of Hearst Elementary on the Southwest Side, said because &ldquo;nobody knows who&rsquo;s directing who,&rdquo; the responsibility falls back into the principal&rsquo;s lap.<br /><br />When WBEZ spoke with Chrobak- Prince at the end of the first day of school last week, she still didn&rsquo;t know who her Aramark custodial manager was. She also said the new contract has created more red tape.<br /><br />&ldquo;For something as simple as making sure the air-conditioning is regulated, you have to make ten phone calls and send five emails before anything gets done,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t just simply go to your engineer and say I need this done because then they have this whole new system and they have to put it in the computer and they have to call their FM and they have to get it approved, and then we have to get three quotes.&rdquo;<br /><br />Norgren of CPS said &ldquo;that should not be happening.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;[Principals] should feel very comfortable directing the custodian that that garbage can needs to be dumped,&rdquo; Norgren said. &ldquo;It shouldn&rsquo;t be this process where they&rsquo;re running it up the flagpole.&rdquo;<br /><br />Norgren says Aramark officials will be meeting with individual principals in the coming weeks to address any problems.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Fewer custodians, cleaner schools?</strong></span><br /><br />CPS officials insist overall cleanliness of schools remains the same, despite reports indicating otherwise and an overall reduction in the custodial workforce.&nbsp;<br /><br />Of those who took the principal survey, 87 percent reported at least one janitor being cut. Additionally, WBEZ spoke with more than a dozen people at schools across the city and nearly all say their school has fewer custodians.<br /><br />&ldquo;As of right now, we have six night custodians, when we used to have ten and only two daytime custodians,&rdquo; said Carolyn Brown, a teacher and parent at Kelly High School. She says at least one of the bathrooms in the school is now only being cleaned once a week.&nbsp;<br /><br />&ldquo;My daughter actually goes to school here and it makes me, the parent in me, cringe at the idea of her going into a bathroom that&rsquo;s only cleaned once a week when we have thousands of people come through this building,&rdquo; Brown added.<br /><br />Jonathan Zielinski, a teacher at Drummond Montessori in Bucktown, said the school used to have four custodians, one for each floor of the building. They now have two.<br /><br />One of them has been at Drummond for more than 20 years and is being reassigned to another school, where he&rsquo;ll take the place of three custodians that were cut over the summer.<br /><br />&ldquo;He&rsquo;s not losing his job, but he&rsquo;s losing his family, his community,&rdquo; Zielinski told WBEZ. He added that for a school like Drummond, where the Montessori curriculum requires students to work in very specifically prepared environments, a clean, neat classroom is important. The custodians, like the one being reassigned, play an important role.<br /><br />&ldquo;He knows everybody in this building too,&rdquo; Zielinski said. &ldquo;A stranger walks into this building, [he] will recognize a face or not recognize a face. If I saw somebody who I didn&rsquo;t recognize in the building, I would ask [him] if he knew who they were, because he is here every day, every moment.&rdquo;<br /><br />And the reassignments are just the beginning. Norgren confirmed that roughly 475 custodians will be let go by the end of September. None of the 825 custodial positions covered by SEIU Local 73 will be cut, Norgren said. Many of those positions, like the one at Drummond, have been shifted as a result of the layoffs.<br /><br />Two and a half of those positions will be cut from Dave Belanger&rsquo;s school, Hanson Park.<br /><br />&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t see how it would be physically possible for three and a half custodians to clean the campus we have,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />That campus includes four buildings with a total of 65 classrooms.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 17:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767 How is the new chow in CPS schools? http://www.wbez.org/news/how-new-chow-cps-schools-109272 <p><p>After more than a decade with the same lunch provider, Chicago Public Schools hired a new catering company, Aramark, to produce its school food this year.</p><p>The new caterer promised to boost sales, make tastier food and even serve up organic salad every day. It&rsquo;s been three months since Aramark launched its menus in the district and we thought it was time to see how it&rsquo;s going.</p><p>Wednesday on Afternoon Shift we talk to Leslie Fowler, the director of nutritional support services at CPS, and a group of kids who are on a mission to improve wellness among CPS students.</p><p>Fowler, who worked for Aramark in Rochester, before becoming school food chief in Chicago says that Aramark has improved food and sales since taking over the $100 million-plus contract at CPS.</p><p>&ldquo;What Aramark offered was an opportunity to do organic salad in our schools and have one consistent menu across the district,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SCHOOL%20PIZZA.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="CPS lunch (Courtesy of anonymous CPS students)" /></p><p>The administrator says that students seem to be enjoying the meals and notes that school lunch participation (meaning how many kids take lunch) is up 3 percent this year to 55 percent of students. Still, that&rsquo;s in a district where 88 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.</p><p>Accounting has been a problem in the past with tallies of students lunch sales completed by hand each day. Fowler says that this will all be streamlined early next year when all schools go to a system of swipe cards that will allow students to pay electronically and for the district &ldquo;to enter the 21 Century.&rdquo;</p><p>In recent years the district, which, in 2009 was serving nachos and fries to high school kids every day, has undergone some changes aimed at healthier meals. Lunch sales have dropped off in those years and Fowler says that pizza and spicy chicken patties are still the top sellers but hopes to change that through education.</p><p>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the WBEZ podcast <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng" target="_blank">Chewing the Fat</a>. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a></p></p> Wed, 27 Nov 2013 14:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-new-chow-cps-schools-109272 New CPS menu includes ‘organic salad’ every day http://www.wbez.org/news/new-cps-menu-includes-%E2%80%98organic-salad%E2%80%99-every-day-108461 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/usda_lunch.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Fresh organic green salads will be offered to all Chicago Public School students every day of the upcoming school year, according to new 2013-2014 CPS menus obtained by WBEZ.</p><p>The lunch and breakfast menus offer a first glimpse of what the district&rsquo;s new caterer, Aramark, will serve more than 400,000 Chicago Public School children starting Aug. 26.</p><p>These daily organic romaine lettuce salads come as part of a food contract that saves the district $12 million over its last caterer. The menus, which cover the months of August and September, may change and could vary slightly from school to school. At the high school level, students are offered several options each day from various restaurant-style stations, such as &ldquo;Green Street Deli&rdquo; and &ldquo;Corner Crust Pizza.&rdquo; But not every school may offer every option.</p><p>Menu items of note include a &ldquo;breakfast for lunch&rdquo; entree of pancakes and sausage that will be served to at high schools twice every month and elementary schools once a month. High schoolers will also be offered new items such as bruschetta pizza, chicken and ham jambalaya and cheesy baked potatoes served with corn chips.</p><p>As part of a culinary theme featuring &quot;ingredients and flavors born in Chicago,&quot; the menus list a Mexican nacho bar, barbecued chicken pizza, taco pizza, a taco burger and &ldquo;Chicago beef sandwiches.&rdquo;</p><p>Without comment from CPS or Aramark officials, it was not immediately clear how taco pizza and taco burgers illustrated &ldquo;Chicago flavors.&rdquo;</p><p>In a nod to a Latino population that makes up the largest demographic (44 percent) of the CPS student body and the growing popularity of spicy snacks among American teens in general, high school menus feature a consistent &quot;Tortilla Fresh Mex&quot; selection and at least one item with jalapeños, salsa or buffalo sauce each week. &nbsp;</p><p>In honor of our famously dressed local wiener, Chicago style hot dogs appear on both the elementary and high school menus. High school students will also be offered several different styles of pizza every week.</p><p>The most popular item under CPS&rsquo;s previous vendor, Chartwells, was the &ldquo;spicy chicken sandwich.&rdquo; The new menus include some type of breaded chicken product every month for elementary schoolers and every week for high schoolers.</p><p>Elementary school selections will change daily, starting with chicken nuggets or &ldquo;dippin&rsquo; mozzarella sticks&quot; on the first day of school.</p><p>New USDA fruit and vegetable rules require that an orange or green vegetable be offered twice a week. Aramark&#39;s include french fries, tater tots, green pepper strips, corn, fresh broccoli, cinnamon sweet potatoes, sweet potato tots, steamed squash, collard greens, sweet potato fries, seasoned greens and tomato wedges.</p><p>Philadelphia based Aramark won the $100 million contract to cater CPS lunchrooms--the largest single such contract in North America--last spring despite protests from the district&#39;s previous caterer Chartwells Thompson. CPS had worked with Chartwells for more than a decade.</p><p>Chartwells had improved its menus, that at one time offered daily nachos for high schools, by sourcing more local produce and chicken raised without antibiotics to the menus. The company&#39;s regional chief, however, was <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-03-12/news/ct-met-cps-chartwells-investigation-0312-20120312_1_cps-students-cps-officials-chartwells-thompson-hospitality">criticized for giving unauthorized gifts</a> to the head of CPS food service, who <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-03-17/news/chi-cps-chief-brizard-seeks-to-fire-louise-esaian-head-of-schools-food-service-following-scandal-20120317_1_cps-employees-jean-claude-brizard-inspector-general-james-sullivan">resigned after an investigation</a> by the CPS Inspector General in the spring of 2012.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>. Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/beckyleah15">@beckyleah15</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 20 Aug 2013 09:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-cps-menu-includes-%E2%80%98organic-salad%E2%80%99-every-day-108461