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Waste of the Day: $23 Million Worth Of Computers Lost/Stolen From Chicago Schools

Chicago public schools have lost $23 million worth of computers, including devices lent out and not return, and outright theft.

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Topline: Tens of thousands of laptops and iPads were lost or stolen from Chicago Public Schools in the 2021-22 school year, amounting to $23 million in missing property.

Key facts: The Inspector General of Chicago Public Schools’ annual report found that 77,505 devices were missing from schools’ inventory, including 27% of all devices lent out to students.

Three dozen schools reported that every single device lent out to students was missing. In three schools, 50% of all devices in the building were reported as lost or stolen.

Half of the schools in Chicago lost at least 10% of their devices, a percentage the Inspector General called a “serious problem.”

The $23 million price tag on the missing devices is a conservative estimate, according to the report.

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Waste of the Day: $23 Million Worth Of Computers Lost/Stolen From Chicago Schools
Waste of the Day 2.09.24 by Open the Books

The Inspector General found instances where families failed to return laptops, and the schools simply marked the items as lost rather than try to recover them.

In another case, two siblings lost 10 devices without consequence.

CPS spent $2.6 million on software to track lost devices, but the report claims the software was not used properly.

The report noted that just because a device is currently lost doesn’t mean it will never be recovered.

Background: The missing laptops only exacerbate a larger financial crisis in Chicago schools. The district is projected to have a $391 million deficit this year as federal COVID-19 relief funds dry out, with school leaders arguing that they are not receiving enough money from the state to properly serve their students.

Chicago’s 638 public schools have an $8.5 billion budget for the current school year, about $2.5 billion more than the district had in 2019. Enrollment numbers have also decreased over the past five years.

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Student performance is also dropping. In 2022, there were 50 schools where every fourth-grade student failed to demonstrate proficiency in either math or reading.

Supporting quote: “In a district of our size, some device loss is expected, but we remain concerned about the loss of any public asset,” a CPS spokesperson said.

“Our CPS team will work to streamline our system for tracking resources, including devices, while enforcing compliance with board policy. In a district where more than 72% of students are from economically disadvantaged families, it is crucial that we are sensitive to our families as we conduct any device recovery efforts.”

Summary: Chicago schools can’t account for 77,505 devices lost by students and staff during the pandemic, and $2.6 million software to track lost devices wasn’t used properly. Chicago schools clearly isn’t a good steward of public money, and should be help accountable.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com

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This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

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Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO/founder of OpenTheBooks.com. Before dedicating his life to public service, Adam co-founded HomePages Directories, a $20 million publishing company (1997-2007). His works have been featured on the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Forbes, Newsweek, and many other national media.

Today, OpenTheBooks.com is the largest private repository of U.S. public-sector spending. Mission: post "every dime, online, in real time." In 2022, OpenTheBooks.com captured nearly all public expenditures in the country, including nearly all disclosed federal government spending; 50 of 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

The group's aggressive transparency and forensic auditing of government spending has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, and successful prosecutions; congressional briefings, hearings, and subpoenas; Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits; Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports; federal legislation; and much more.

Our Honorary Chairman - In Memoriam is U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD.

Andrzejewski's federal oversight work was included in the President's Budget To Congress FY2021. The budget cited his organization by name, bullet-pointed their findings, and footnoted/hyperlinked to their report.

Posted on YouTube, Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida received 3.8 million views.

Andrzejewski has spoken at the Columbia School of Journalism, Harvard Law School and the law schools at Georgetown and George Washington regarding big data journalism. As a senior policy contributor at Forbes, Adam had nearly 20 million pageviews on 206 published investigations. In 2022, investigative fact-finding on Dr. Fauci's finances led to his cancellation at Forbes.

In 2022, Andrzejewski did 473 live television and radio interviews across broadcast, major cable platforms, and radio shows. Andrzejewski is the author of The Waste of the Day column at Real Clear Policy. The column is syndicated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates across USA.

Andrzejewski lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife Kerry and three daughters. He is a lector at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church and has finished the Chicago Marathon eight times (PR 3:58.49 in 2022).

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