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 jonathanpelto.com. 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.