A week after the city of Chicago rolled out posters and charts showing how $1 billion in federal stimulus money would be spent, there’s still no word on how much money the City Colleges of Chicago will get, or what it would do with that money.
The city’s list set aside large amounts of money for the Chicago Transit Authority, road work, public housing improvements and job training, among other things.
None of the projects on that list were for the City Colleges, though, says district spokeswoman Elsa Tullos. She was unable to say whether or not the City Colleges would get any stimulus money.
The Daily News last month submitted a public records request to the City Colleges for details about stimulus projects it hoped to fund. The district turned down that request, saying the list was an unfinished draft, and therefore, as allowed under state law, the list did not have to be released to the public.
The Daily News appealed that argument on the grounds that several administrators had discussed the projects in public meetings.
Jim Reilly, the district’s general counsel, suggested otherwise in a reply Wednesday.
"The brief reference to projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 … does not void the exemption established by the legislature,” he wrote. He was not available Thursday to comment further on what he meant.
“The Administrative Services Department is still awaiting more clarification on possible funding for capital projects and is committed to aggressively pursuing funding at the state and federal level,” Reilly wrote.
In the letter, Reilly suggested that some of the projects the City Colleges hoped to fund with stimulus dollars were already listed in the district’s five-year budget for capital construction.
That list includes $176.5 million in projects just in the next two years at all seven campuses, according to budget documents.
It includes things like spending $15 million to demolish the old Kennedy-King College campus; $11 million to renovate science labs at two campuses, including other unspecified “academic enhancements;” $13.6 million to repave parking lots and sidewalks; and $5.5 million to renovate five floors of the district’s Loop office building.
While the projects are grouped by campus, they aren’t ranked or prioritized in the budget documents.
Daily News Staff Writer Peter Sachs covers higher education. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 18, or peter [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.