Report: Vallas Consulting Company Seeking $1 Million Contract In Illinois

Paul Vallas
Paul Vallas

Crain’s Chicago Business reports that a consulting firm headed by Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas is in position for a major Illinois school board contract. Political columnist Jonathan Pelto, a skeptic of Vallas’ past work, also weighs in Vallas is a turnaround guy who spends a few years trying to reposition low-performing school systems. He has developed a network of education professionals he brings in to assist. Vallas told the Connecticut Post: “That project will not detract from my work here. I am not going anywhere.” See Crain’s story below:

It looks like former Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas is coming back to town–or at least to Illinois.

The State Board of Education has given preliminary approval to a nearly $1 million contract with the consulting firm Mr. Vallas heads, Vallas Group.

According to documents posted on the board’s website, the contract would call for Vallas Group to work on “coordination of interventions in low-performing school districts.”

Board spokesmen did not immediately know if Chicago would be one of those districts, though by most measures CPS is indeed “low performing.” But the prospect of former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s ex-schools chief getting involved in any state efforts to turn around Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school district is worthy of a whole barrel of chuckles.

Mr. Vallas failed to return a phone call seeking comment. The proposed contract, which still needs state procurement board approval, would pay the Vallas Group $311,250 in the first year, with two one-year renewal options offering up to another $319,375 each.

Another firm actually offered to do the state work for a somewhat lower price. But Vallas Group got a technical rating of 892 points out of 1,000, compared with the low bidder’s 175 points.

The state board, of course, is chaired by Gery Chico, who headed the Chicago Board of Education when Mr. Vallas was superintendent.

After Chicago, Mr. Vallas became schools chief in Philadelphia and then New Orleans. He currently runs schools in Bridgeport, Conn., but that is a short-term gig.

2 p.m. update: The board’s spokesman says it’s “not likely” Mr. Vallas will work on Chicago matters, and quite possible he’ll focus on school districts in East St. Louis, North Chicago and other areas that the state has taken over.



  1. Wake up, Bridgeport!!!
    This guy is taking the city for a ride. Is he going to be part-time Super in Haiti & Bridgeport and full-time consultant in Illinois? He should be forced to resign today by his make-believe BOE.

  2. I am beginning to have my doubts about Mr. Vallas. I have spoken in private with him and he does come across as passionate about school reform.
    My questions started when he promoted John Fabrizi and then allowed him to hire Ayala and at least one more friend.
    Then I read where he wants to lay off educational professionals who work in the front lines with the kids. Sure he laid off and demoted a few administrators. He wants to lay these 48 off so he could build a cushion in the BOE budget. CUSHION???
    My ass!!! It sounds like he wants to build a slush fund to use as he pleases. Maybe he needs this money to hire more political leeches.

  3. He’s still better than that empty suit Ramos and incompetent narcissist Salcedo!

    Bob … Time to face facts. Urban America is doomed after decades of Democrat dominance.

    Assume that’s why you resigned and moved up the coast.

  4. And the only Bridgeport residents who were appointed to the state Board Of Education think they are doing such a tremendous job they should be on any BOE the city has.
    Think of it. They get the endorsement. They get elected. They vote to disband the local board. And lo and behold they get appointed again by the state.

  5. The BOE meeting last evening had an item on its agenda regarding the ** Superintendent Contract.
    Probably an Executive Session item in any case, but were they talking about: Past? Present? Future?

    Some people use the time granted to each of us very efficiently, very focused, and are willing to use as many as are necessary to get a task accomplished. Is Paul Vallas one of those people who can multitask and deliver necessary results on different tasks? Are we so used to being taken advantage of by professional lack of accountability and community feelings of underperformance we are willing to pull a trigger prematurely? Or are there several other possibilities? Time will tell.

  6. Vallas is a financial opportunist. He comes from a series of districts and communities that are known for corruption.
    Vallas is laughing all the way to the bank. He is here in Bridgeport through the end of the calendar year. The existing board wants to extend his contract. And at the same time he agrees to consult in Illinois, where by the way his family lives. How much time is there in a day that he can work three jobs? He is the top dog in Bridgeport, he will consult for a district or districts in Illinois and he will run his consulting company. How many other contracts does his company have?
    Bridgeport deserves better than this. They deserve a superintendent who can commit their time 100%. For the amount of money Vallas is making, I think we should expect that he dedicate more than a third of his time to the job at hand.
    Time will tell (wink wink JML); but watch, Vallas will leave Bridgeport still as a failing district and in a financial mess.

  7. He got credit for making New Orleans schools mostly charter schools. Is that good or bad? I don’t know, but it is a fact.

    However, this sounds like deja vu all over again:

    Times-Picayune, Tuesday, February 22, 2011, “Vallas signs contract to help revitalize schools in Chile–He will transition out of RSD job soon”

    Or if that does not work, from April 17, 2011 “Paul Vallas leaves New Orleans schools as a disaster recovery expert”

    1. NOLAbookie,
      You asked if charter schools were good or bad. Much like anything else there is good and bad in everything. However, people like Vallas are famous for creating more charter schools. Why? Simple. Take the lowest performing schools in your district. Turn them into charter schools. They still will be low-performing schools, but the district then does not “own” the state test scores. Think about how Bridgeport’s CMT and CAPT scores will look if Vallas can make even three of our schools charters. The District doesn’t own those low scores. Bridgebort’s scores appear to go up and Vallas claims he has reformed the district. It is all bullshit. People can play with numbers in a lot of ways.

  8. What the Heck???
    Do we have a failing school district that has more failing schools than any other district in the State according to our Mayor (of course, after he flatlined the budget with the approval of the City Council for his first term)?
    Was anyone pleased with the previous BOE that apparently failed to have performance evaluation mechanisms in place for Superintendent Ramos? Was that Board an example of dedicated and concerned community representation focused on good outcomes for youth?
    Did the Mayor take a confrontational approach to jawbone and direct that Board to better outcomes? Or did he perform a sneak attack on elected representatives with the cooperation of State leaders in Hartford?
    Has the Board, appointed through the State process performed in a manner that is an improvement over the previous group?
    Have they endeavored to locate and employ an educational professional team, familiar with failing systems, to assess the issues, form a plan to address the situation with changes over the next five years, gather support of all kinds to work within the changed system, and make changes across the system that are based on models that work in other districts across the US (and can be made to work here as well with support, technology and sufficient funding)?
    Has that team worked tirelessly and publicly to balance the current year budget? Secure funding, equipment and focused staffing to complete next year’s budget on time?
    Is anybody sure how that ‘change agent’ Paul Vallas was employed for this year, paid by whom, and what criteria were indicated in his agreement with the parties who employed him?
    Many questions, yes. Some can be easily answered, perhaps YES or NO. Others may be a bit harder to determine. And certainly the team on the firing line, having been in play for less than five months have not created a track for measurement here in Bridgeport, so facts as well as opinions from other venues are offered.
    Come to some of the meetings BOB members attend. Listen to the discussions. Read the material. Do some original thinking. Connect the facts. Get real. There is a lot of material to consider and digest. In general, this team of “change agents” have been Open, Accountable and Transparent. That is why I am generally favorable to where we are today. But I am also looking to connect the plan to regular review and monitoring by the public. Then we’ll see whether the City goes back to sleep, “supporting a failing district in a financial mess” because they expected someone else to take care of business. The public needs to get smarter, elect honest, experienced and hardworking representatives, and then monitor the issues and results at all times. Show me the money should be rule, not the occasional exception, and secrecy and sloppiness while bragging about “budget transparency” is out of order. If Bill Finch were to suddenly become OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, and TRANSPARENT and go fishing for 35 of his 60-80 hour week; I, for one, would not care one whit. It is not the amount of time spent, but the necessary work effectively completed routinely that will move Bridgeport governance forward. Time will truly tell.

  9. John Marshall Lee,
    You ask some good questions. Some questions have obvious answers.
    I must admit though that you confuse me. I have two posts in regard to this topic. One raises the question about Vallas’ committment to the BOE if he is working three jobs that we know of and possibly more. He may be known nationally as a fixer or reformer. He may come to Bridgeport with credentials. But running a consulting company with millions in other contracts and consulting for other districts 1000 miles away and running Bridgeport clearly indicates we are not getting 100% of his attention.

    The other post I have is math in the simplest form. The district has a CMT score that is the average of 30 schools. You drop the lowest three schools by making them charter schools. The average of the district goes up. Vallas takes the praise for raising scores when in fact he did not.

    So I fail to see the connection to my two posts and your OPEN TRANSPARENT AND ACCOUNTABLE chant.

    I am all for open accountable and transparent. We don’t get it from Finch and we have not gotten it from Vallas. Although Vallas is more open, accountable and transparent than Finch.

    However, Finch and Vallas can become 100% open accountable and transparent and we can still have a failing school system.

    Although I wish for open accountable and transparent from these two men. I would prefer we stop failing our students and give them the education they deserve. And that CAN be done even if the wish is not granted for open accountable and transparent!

  10. I was attempting to answer your first post, the one in which you winked twice, alerting me that you might be Local Eyes in disguise. But I am judging you are not. So first things first.

    At this point in his career, because of his energy, experience and charisma (and the recurring distress of school districts around the world not remotely serving world-class expectations), Paul Vallas is a hot commodity, a professional in demand.
    According to your first note you are worried about how he can well serve Bridgeport in a very demanding full-time role, and still attend to two other work-related issues in Illinois. At least that is what I think you are questioning.
    So, to be the “owner” of a consulting firm by itself is not a full-time job. Depending on where they are in their business plan, he may need as few as 2-3 hours weekly to see that plans are being followed and results are happening. As far as professional consulting for a client, depending on the assignment he may have no work in a given month or a number of concentrated hours to set in motion assessment, planning, etc. which is his real talent.
    Grasping the reins and getting a community to embrace the necessary changes is where we are today, and that is intense personal activity on the deck at all times, including evening and weekends in addition to a full workday. He appears to be a 24/7 type of worker and leader.
    Do we care about “financial opportunism” as a public sin, if it gets us necessary results in an area that has been fumbled for perhaps a generation? And OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT is very important as habits, discipline, routine, structure and process go through changes to deliver us to a new world where Paul Vallas moves on to another community, John Marshall Lee stops posting, and What the heck! becomes just an expression of wonderment, often heard in a changed Bridgeport environment. Time will tell.

  11. John Marshall Lee,
    Talk about missing the boat! In my first post I winked twice at you because I used your tag line, Time will tell.
    I believe you are an overly analytical person. Sometimes, John, you just read too much into things. Just sometimes take things at face value and don’t overthink statements!

    I am not pointing fingers, placing blame or dooming Vallas. I am just saying a person with a demanding job as running the Bridgeport Schools, consulting with other failing districts not in a close geographic location and running a full-time business (even if he is not a full-time employee/owner) is spreading himself a little thin and we the people of Bridgeport who are so desiring of change deserve someone who can dedicate 100% of their time to fixing our problems before he saves the rest of the world.

  12. Perhaps I am being “overly analytical” to use your words but you did indicate you wanted Vallas to spend more than one-third of his time on the job at hand. So I provided you with an alternative scenario on how an energetic person might structure their schedule to meet demanding responsibilities. It can be done with him spending the type of time he has here in Bridgeport the past five months. And I still do not know who is paying him, or how much, or what his agreement is. If you know for sure, maybe you can report the facts to OIB.

    By the way, other readers, for instance Mojo, have been using that TIME WILL TELL “signoff” line occasionally without the wink, wink. Up until now, only Local Eyes has used that in response, the reason for my reaction.

    Since we seem to agree the future of the kids is the important issue here, what metrics or other measures might you suggest that would serve well in the coming days to see whether the Vallas intervention goes towards student achievement or merely personal financial opportunism? Surely measures expected by the public at large should find their way into Open Accountable and Transparent reporting. Time will tell.

    1. You ask what metrics or other measures might you suggest that would serve well in the coming days to see whether the Vallas intervention goes towards student achievement or merely personal financial opportunism?

      Time will tell if the student achievement increases. However follow the trail for financial gain and the appearance of inappropriateness.
      1. Malloy is solidly connected to Andrew Boas, a long-time board member of both Achievement First and ConnCAN. Boas now serves as Chairman of Achievement First’s Bridgeport Academy.
      2. Boas was one of the most influential voices in Malloy’s education reform package.
      3. Malloy and Pryor were the instruments who brought in Vallas.
      4. Pryor started Achievemnet First school management company and served as director for eight years before Malloy grabbed him.
      5. Boas is also Director, Bridgeport Public Education Fund.

      Do you see the beginnings of a tangled web? Malloy, Pryor, Vallas, Boas and Patrick Riccards all stand to make personal gains from the increase in charter schools.

      Vallas has surrounded himself with the likes of John Fabrizi and has made appointments, promotions and demotions on political agendas rather than ability to do the job. Much of the discussions taking place in Testo’s kitchen.
      Questions are already swirling based on the recent purchase of new reading and math programs and the “expert” trainers who will be brought in.
      Look John, I perhaps have more to gain than you do if Vallas succeeds. I have children in the system. I want educational success for all.
      But with each passing day, Vallas becomes more and more tangled in the Good ol’ boys club and hope flies out the window.

      He is not as open, transparent or accountable as you may think!

  13. Paul Vallas isn’t just the latest school superintendent, he’s an agent of change who’s showing he can manage multiple school districts with ease. He’s a digital man adding value to an analog world. (shrug) I’m jealous.

    1. Local Eyes,
      Paul Vallas may be an agent of change, but it is yet to be determined if the change will be for the better. Talk to people in Philly and New Orleans. A huge number of people feel they are worse off after the Vallas tenure.
      Look, we pay him $229,000. Illinois gave him a million-dollar contract. Where is his time and effort going to be? A place that is worth $229,000 or $1,000,000?

  14. W need a superintendent of schools who is independent of political influence and willing to commit 150%. In Vallas we have neither. Shame on you, Paul.


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