A day before the expected release of a budget that must address a gaping deficit, Chicago Public Schools said it has found ways to save nearly $144 million, a third of that through a more aggressive purchasing strategy and technology upgrades.
The district said a procurement officer who started in March and came from the private sector led efforts to renegotiate contracts and work with other city agencies to secure lower prices. Also instituted were cost-cutting practices like having milk delivered every other day, instead of daily, and having schools cleaned at night rather than during the day.
"What we're doing is really challenging any price the vendor is telling us," said Chief Procurement Officer Sebastien de Longeaux, who came to the district from Rexam, a Dutch packaging company with operations in Chicago.
CPS is negotiating a new contract with teachers, who are demanding significant raises to work a longer school day. District officials say they're facing an approximately $700 million deficit for a second year in a row.