The Chicago Board of Education is expected today to vote to make Michael Scott its president, following Mayor Richard Daley’s formal announcement earlier in the week that he had asked Scott to return to the role he previously held for five years.
Scott will replace Rufus Williams, who was asked to leave by Daley. Scott is considered a smoother hand than Williams in dealing with educators, parents, and others. Williams has reportedly upset some people for failing to seek input when slating closures of poorly performing schools.
Scott takes over the board as it advances its school closure plans and as newly appointed Chicago Public Schools executive director Ron Huberman has come under criticism for his lack of an education background. Huberman was named earlier this year by Daley to replace Arne Duncan, who was tapped to serve as education secretary in the Obama administration. Huberman is a previous chief of staff to the mayor, and most recently led the Chicago Transit Authority.
Scott served as Board of Education president between 2001 and 2006. He has long served in city administrative positions and on various boards, including the Chicago Park District and Illinois Regional Transportation Authority. He had won praise during his previous tenure for his diplomatic style and the amount of time he devoted to the unpaid position, often granting private meetings at the request of the public and educators during board meetings.
“He’s very good. I have confidence in him in regards to what he did previously in education,” Daley said at a news conference Monday.
CPS is the largest district in the state and the third largest in the country, and is struggling to keep its massive $5 billion capital program on track amid a long drought in new state spending.
The district decided last year to delay a new-money bond sale to help save on debt service and to dip into reserves to close a deficit in its $5.14 billion operating budget for fiscal 2009. The draw on reserves will bring the balance in that account down to $380 million in the next budget.
Fitch Ratings last spring revised its outlook on the district’s A-plus credit to positive from stable. Moody’s Investors Service rates the district A1 while Standard & Poor’s rates it AA-minus.