The outgoing board of Chicago Public Schools approved the appointment of the city’s newest schools chief today at a meeting marked by farewells and hints of what’s to come.
Jean-Claude Brizard did not attend the board meeting. And while he began his work last week, he does not have a contract and has not been paid.
The appointment approved today -- which is to be in effect from Thursday to June 30 -- calls for Brizard to be paid at a rate of $250,000 a year, although the final contract could be different. Brizard's predecessor, Ron Huberman, was paid $230,000 a year.
Brizard had been paid $235,000 a year to run the Rochester, N.Y., school system.
A district spokeswoman said negotiations between lawyers for Brizard and the schools are ongoing and he will be compensated retroactively.
The 47-year-old educator tapped by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to lead the nation’s third-largest school system becomes the fourth chief executive in four years. Emanuel handpicked an education team -– Brizard, a New York City physics teacher who rose to the ranks of school superintendent in Rochester, plus top administrators and a Board of Education stacked with philanthropists and long-time education supporters.
The newly named Board President David Vitale attended the outgoing board's session to observe. As the day-long meeting ended, outgoing Board President Mary Richardson-Lowry handed the gavel to her successor.
Outgoing interim CEO Terry Mazany on Wednesday called it “a time of historic transition.”
The new board is expected to be in place by the next meeting scheduled for June 22. But Richardson-Lowry left open the possibility that the board may convene at an earlier date.
Brizard spent much of the past week meeting with school leaders and scouring budget forecasts that detail an estimated $720 million deficit expected next year. He plans to organize a listening tour with teachers and students across the city’s schools.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis recently sat down with Brizard and said she hopes they can work together. Lewis lauded his educational background and charisma, though she faulted the fact he did not yet have a contract available for parents, taxpayers and teachers to review.
“We’re supposed to be working toward some transparency,” Lewis said. “It’s business as usual.”
During a public session marked by farewells, Lewis joked with Mazany, who urged collaboration between the teachers union and the new education team. The teachers’ contract comes up for renewal in June 2012.
“Give them an opportunity to plant their feet on the ground,” Mazany said.
“What? Before we start the fight?” Lewis said, laughing.
Mazany and Chief Education Officer Charles Payne, who both served on an interim basis since last fall, received standing ovations. Former Mayor Richard Daley, who was not present, was lauded for his contributions to the embattled public school system he controlled since 1995.