CPS suspends SUPES Academy contract

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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has suspended a controversial no-bid contract at the center of a federal investigation.

In a surprise announcement the school board reversed course, taking immediate action on the contract with SUPES Academy in Evanston.  The board previously announced the possibility of suspending the $20.5 million no-bid contract if federal investigators found any evidence of wrongdoing.

"As of today I am suspending the SUPES contract," Interim schools CEO Jesse Ruiz said at today's board meeting.

CPS says effective immediately the SUPES contract is suspended and school principals will no longer be sent to SUPES for leadership training.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who is on leave, used to work for the academy before taking the helm of CPS. Her relationship with SUPES has drawn scrutiny from federal investigators. The $20.5 million no-bid contract was awarded to SUPES after Bennett became schools CEO.

The school district is already facing a projected $1 billion budget deficit, much of it said to be due to underfunded teacher retirement payments.

Crain's Chicago Business reports CPS was forced to pay top of the market interest rates on $300 million worth of new bonds issued today. CPS recently suffered bond rating downgrades. According to Crain's the $300 million will be used by the school district to refinance existing debt.

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