CHICAGO — City Colleges of Chicago has tapped Chicago Public Schools' deputy chief financial officer Melanie Jopek Shaker to shepherd its finances.
Shaker left Fitch Ratings, where she led coverage of tax-supported Midwestern credits from its Chicago office, to take the newly created CPS job in 2010. She started at Fitch in 2003. Shaker was hired by the school district's CFO at the time, Diana Ferguson, who left last year.
Shaker served as interim CFO until David Watkins was hired later in the year.
"I am very excited about the new opportunity at City Colleges of Chicago and am really looking forward to joining the team. My experience at Chicago Public Schools has been tremendously fulfilling and I will miss CPS very much," Shaker said.
Shaker leaves the district as it has wrapped up its new-money borrowing for the year, and following the board's adoption of a $5.2 billion fiscal 2013 budget. Its heavy reliance on reserves to close a $665 deficit prompted a round of negative credit action. CPS wished Shaker well and said it intended to search for a replacement.
Shaker fills a position left vacant by the departure this spring of Kenneth Gotsch, who resigned to take the top fiscal position at Columbia College Chicago. Gotsch had been CFO and vice chancellor of finance at City Colleges since 2005. He also previously had held top fiscal posts for CPS and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Colleges officials earlier this year announced a $479 million, five-year capital program that relies on $274 million of future borrowing.
The plan calls for investments at all seven of the system's facilities, including a new $250 million Malcolm X College that would open in 2015. The campus will house the system's College to Careers programs in allied health.
The program also calls for $77 million in classroom and other academic-related improvements, $16 million for life safety and security systems and $135 million to cover deferred maintenance projects. In addition to borrowing, the system will fund the projects with cash, capital reserves and tax-increment financing revenue. In the past, the city has borrowed on behalf of the colleges.
"We look forward to Melanie joining our senior leadership team as CFO, where she will help further strengthen our financial performance as well as leverage her deep expertise to help drive our capital initiatives, including the new Malcolm X College project," City Colleges spokesman Laurent Pernot said.
The board of trustees will vote on her appointment in September.