Chicago Public Schools employee salaries

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Chicago Public Schools employee salaries are a matter of public record under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.


According to a payroll database compiled by the Illinois-based watchdog group Better Government Association, there were 61 Chicago Public Schools employees earning more than $150,000 annually in 2011.[1] The BGA database does not allow searches to be broken down by department, only last name or salary value.

  • CEO Jean-Claude Brizzard earned $250,000
  • General Counsel James Bebley earned a salary of $150,966.80
  • Crystal Bell, principal at Ella Flagg Young School, earned $151,928.06
  • Sandra Carlson, principal of William P Gray School, earned $154,920.86
  • Jennifer Cheatham, Chief Area Officer at Area 9 Instruction Office, earned $151,131.44
  • Debbie Graye, Human Resources Officer, earned $165,000
  • Clarice Jackson-Berry, Administrator of CW-Office of Human Capital, earned $160,848.73
  • Melanie Jopek Shaker, Acting Officer of the Treasury, earned $170,000
  • General Counsel Patrick Rocks earned $182,094.48
  • Robert Runcie, Chief Area Officer at Chief Area Office 17, earned $179,166.67
  • Richard Smith, Chief Specialized Services Officer of Special Education, earned $175,000
  • Alicia Winckler, Executive Officer for Human Resources in the Office of Human Capital, earned $205,000
  • Andrew Manno, Principal of Gurdon S. Hubbard High School, earned $154,920.86
  • Harry Randell, Principal of Richard Yates School, earned $154,920.86
  • Karen Saffold, Chief Area Officer for Area 16 Instruction Office, earned $151,131.44
  • Maria Rodriguez O'keefe, Principal of Frank W Reilly School, earned $154,920.86
  • Michael Shields, Director Of Security, earned $150,000

As of 2011, the average teacher salary in Chicago Public Schools was $69,000. Salaries vary according to years of experience and level of education. Teachers average a 3% to 5% increase every year for the first 13 years of service and can get an average 3.8% pay bump for earning an advanced degree.[2]


Chicago Public School officials did not respond to a public records request for information on employee benefits in dollars for 2008-2011. According to the CPS Human Resources Office, employees have access to multiple benefits.

  • Medical coverage includes five health options – Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO, United Healthcare HMO, United Healthcare PPO with Heath Reimbursement Account, United Healthcare PPO and Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO. Single, couple or family coverage is available. CPS shares in cost of coverage.
  • Dental coverage includes two plans, a PPO or Dental HMO(DHMO). Single, couple or family coverage. Insured by Delta Dental. CPS shares in cost of coverage.
  • Basic vision coverage
  • $25,000 death benefit
  • 403(b)/457 Voluntary Retirement Plans

Salary records project

In 2011, Sunshine Review chose 152 local governments as the focus of research on public employee salaries. The editors of Sunshine Review selected eight states with relevant political contexts (listed alphabetically):

1. California
2. Florida
3. Illinois
4. Michigan
5. New Jersey
6. Pennsylvania
7. Texas
8. Wisconsin

Within these states, the editors of Sunshine Review focused on the most populous cities, counties and school districts, as well as the emergency services entities within these governments. The purpose of this selection method was to develop articles on governments affecting the most citizens.

The salary information garnered from these states were a combination of existing online resources and state Freedom of Information Act requests sent out to the governments.

Importance of public employee pay disclosure

In July 2010, The Los Angeles Times uncovered that officials in Bell, California were making remarkably high salaries.[3] Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo was earning a yearly $787,637. It was later uncovered that Rizzo's total compensation after taking benefits into account topped $1.5 million a year.[4]

For comparison:[3]

  • Manhattan Beach, with about 7,000 fewer people than Bell, paid its most recent city manager $257,484 a year.
  • Long Beach, with a population close to 500,000, paid its city manager $235,000 annually.
  • Los Angeles County paid its chief executive, William T. Fujioka, $338,458.

Corruption solution

After this report was released, governments began to proactively disclose salary information of their employees. Before the end of the summer of 2010, more than a dozen cities in Orange County, for example, posted salary information on the front pages of their websites.[5]

The cost of transparency websites maintaining such information ranges from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands. These websites also save money, and this often is not taken into account when measuring costs.

Citizens upset about the breach of trust and armed with information formed a group called the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, which pushed for an independent audit of city salaries and contracts.[6]

Citizens, empowered with information, are key to keeping government free from corruption and efficient. A study published by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia revealed that the city of Philadelphia has a problem with the efficiency and costs of public employee pensions.[7] The amount that Philadelphia pays to pension recipients limits the city’s ability to use its budget effectively.

The report revealed that there were more individuals receiving pension benefits—33,907 claimants in 2006—than workers in the city—28,701.[7] The authors of the study recommend three steps towards addressing the problem of high costs in pensions.[7] First, improve data collection so that decision-making in terms of pension policies is more informed. Second, promote transparency for better accountability to citizens. Third, reduce costs and use the savings for developing Philadelphia.

Resistance to public employee salary data as public records

The idea of making public employee salaries is relatively new. In 2008, several local government employee associations and unions protested the posting of state employee salaries by newspaper The Sacramento Bee.[8][9] At the time, it was seen as a safety risk and invasion of privacy.

Sunshine Review aims in posting salary information

Publicly posted salaries often leave out important information. Salary schedules can be published as ranges, not as specific take-home compensation, and high-level, highly-paid positions are often not disclosed proactively.[5][4] Additionally, salaries leave out compensation received through health and retirement benefits, as well as benefits such as commuter allowances and cell phone reimbursements. This project aimed to close the gap and provide a more accurate picture of public employee salaries for the sake of public education and transparency.

See also

External links