CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has selected his chief of staff to head the city's struggling school district.
Forrest Claypool is a longtime friend of Emanuel who headed the city's transit agency before he was named Emanuel's chief of staff earlier this year. He will now lead the nation's third-largest school district.
Claypool succeeds Barbara Byrd-Bennett. She resigned in May amid a federal probe of a $20 million no-bid contract. She has not been charged with any crime.
The Chicago Teachers Union is responding angrily to Claypool's selection, saying in part:
“Claypool is a political ‘fixer’ and longtime mayoral insider who represents another non-education, business-style manager of our schools. Mayoral control has given us 20 years of businessmen running CPS, going back to Paul Vallas, and look where it’s gotten us. This appointment suggests that the mayor will look to cut even more from neighborhood schools, when what we need is a return to an education-centered approach,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.
Earlier this week CPS officials said dozens of schools would have to cut about $200,000 from each of their budgets without pension help from state lawmakers. The district has already made budget cuts in the wake of ballooning pension payments.