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Chief Portfolio Officer Oliver Sicat resigns, will leave in March

January 3, 2013, By: Becky Vevea

A top Chicago Public Schools official is resigning amid another reorganization of the system’s leadership.

Chief Portfolio Officer Oliver Sicat submitted his resignation yesterday, but will stay with the district through March, said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll. The former principal and teacher will pursue other career opportunities, Carroll said.

Sicat was tapped by former schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard to run the Office of Portfolio, which oversaw the creation of new charter and magnet schools and managed the enrollment process. That office will now be absorbed into the new Office of Innovation and Incubation, run by Jack Elsey.

The departure and overall reorganization comes at a time when confidence in CPS is strikingly low.

After his election Mayor Rahm Emanuel cleaned house at CPS, claiming he needed to “hit the reset button on education.” Alicia Winkler and General Counsel Pat Rocks were the only two holdovers from the Daley era. Rocks retired last summer.

But today, just three of the eight people initially appointed by Emanuel remain. One of those three is Winkler. The other two are Carroll  and Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley.

A shake-up in school leadership is not uncommon when a new Chief Executive Officer is appointed. In 1995, when then-Mayor Richard M. Daley took control of the city’s public schools, his first CEO Paul Vallas restructured the system. Arne Duncan did the same in 2001, when Daley appointed him to succeed Vallas.

But rapid change in school leadership over the past three years has meant much more frequent, and costly, reorganizations. Principals, teachers and other stakeholders have grown more confused and frustrated as faces change and offices are renamed.

The departures come with hefty price tags for the cash-strapped school system.

Emanuel’s initial top two picks, Brizard and Chief Education Officer Noemi Donoso both left with substantial severance packages. Donoso left in late April, just shy of a year in office, and got half a year’s salary, or $134,000, and did not have to repay the $21,000 in relocation expenses, although her contract said she would. She also stayed on payroll for a month after her resignation.

Brizard’s high-profile exit is costing the district more than $300,000. He remained an employee through the end of December 2012 and gets a year’s salary, or $250,000, beyond that.

Carroll said current CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who took over for Brizard after he left in the wake of the first teachers strike since 1987, is still organizing her team.

Read the rest of WBEZ's report here.


Chicago Teachers Union