CPS facilities chief Clarence Carson stepped out amid complaints about dirty schools


The Chicago Public School Facilities Manager is in the midst of complaints about difficult management of school cleaning services that left some children learning in unsanitary conditions this fall, three sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

As of Thursday, Clarence Carson, an experienced CPS parent in the facilities who had been brought in to help with previous school cleaning issues, is no longer working at his $ 175,000-a-year job.

His departure comes less than a week after The Sun-Times documented conditions at a southwestern elementary school so bad that teachers and administrators themselves were handling mops and brooms. Students, parents and teachers at Eberhart Elementary School have complained about seeing cockroaches and unwashed floors and bathrooms in the absence of sufficient guards at the school.

Clarence carson
Chicago Public Schools

The CPS would not say how many other schools were struggling with cleanliness issues, but crews were paid overtime to have buildings “cleaned and up to CPS standards” across town last month.

CPS officials did not comment on Carson’s departure about five weeks after the tenure of new CPS CEO Pedro Martinez, who returned to the city he grew up in after leading a school district in San Antonio, began. in Texas.

Carson could not be reached.

Ivan Hansen, who was the executive director of planning and construction of CPS for $ 162,843 per year, will take over the facilities as interim director, a source said.

The district’s decision to privatize on-call duty in 2014 – awarding multi-million dollar contracts with concierge companies Aramark and Sodexo – has since come under fire. The agreements left CPS, and especially principals, with little oversight or say in the maintenance of school buildings.

And despite the huge cost – the district has paid $ 920 million to private janitorial companies over the past eight years – the system has failed to keep schools clean. This led to the ousting of Carson’s predecessor, Leslie Fowler, in 2018. Complaints and Sun-Times reporting in the weeks leading up to Fowler’s resignation documented the extent of the filth in schools in the district. .

Carson’s idea last year was for the district to take back control of those services and abandon Aramark and Sodexo.

But his plans were delayed, which led to the district extending the contracts of the two companies – and paying them each millions of dollars more than originally planned.

Then, despite his advertised goals to turn things around, Carson – who received a $ 5,000 raise over the summer – surprisingly retained Aramark for child care and expanded his work to cover all schools in the district. , including those previously cleaned by Sodexo. Philadelphia-based Aramark ended up with a new three-year, $ 369 million contract. CPS also awarded a three-year, $ 375 million contract to Chicago firm Jones Lang LaSalle to help the district oversee its facilities.

CPS took over the management of the system staffed by private companies under these new contracts, as Carson had proposed. This transition took place on October 1.

Carson’s departure reflects further turmoil in the difficult management of school facilities. He was hired in large part because he had facilities management training which at the time district operations manager Arnie Rivera said could help correct the issues.

While Fowler, his predecessor, had no experience with facilities when she was promoted to director of food services by then-CEO Forrest Claypool, Carson had earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in construction and manufacturing. Facilities Management at Michigan State University, then spent 14 years in various facilities roles in the private and public sectors at Allianz Global, McShane Construction, Berglund Construction, Arcadis and others.

In recent history titled “Windy City Revival: How One [Facilities Manager] Overturned Chicago Public School FacilitiesFor the FacilitiesNet website, Rivera said he turned to Carson after there were “front page stories about school filth, and I was like, we can’t have that . This cannot be a major point of vulnerability for our neighborhood.

“I was looking for a rock star, knowing that facilities management was a major vulnerability for the school district,” Rivera told the website. “Clarence did not apply and had no interest. I looked for it. I don’t think he was in a real rush to do it.

Carson was a volunteer parent at his daughter’s school when Rivera reached out. In this profile, Carson said there were clear issues at CPS that he believed he could fix.

“I reorganized our department and created several new positions to help us be successful,” he said.

“We will grow this team, have longer tentacles and provide even more control, more transparency, through direct control over contracts through our departments. “

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