Huberman Replacements Jockey for Position

Top names floated as mayor looks for someone with business focus, educational deputy

By Dick Johnson
|  Friday, Nov 5, 2010  |  Updated 8:20 AM CDT
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Huberman Replacements Jockey for Position

Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman

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In looking for a replacement for Chicago Public Schools CEO, Mayor Richard Daley may not have to look far to find someone with the mix of business and educational acumen he desires.

"The CEO has always been a business person," said Daley.  "It works better that way."

Robert Runcie, the current CPS Administrative Officer, is at or near the top of the list to replace Huberman, NBC Chicago has learned.  Runcie is a former business executive with degrees from Harvard and Northwestern and has recent training from the Broad Superintendents Academy.  He's also a city parent raising three kids in the public school system.

But his selection may be the polar opposite of what the Chicago Teachers Union wants. 

Hours after Huberman's departure was officially known, a collection of community groups assembled by new CTU President Karen Lewis gathered outside Daley's 5th floor office at City Hall to demand a seat at the table to decide Huberman's replacement.

"Let's put together a national, or even international search, for a qualified educator to lead the Chicago Public Schools," said Lewis.

Although Runcie's managerial experience far outweighs his education background, he may appeal to both the mayor and concerned community groups.

"He is a smart and thoughtful leader who has deep knowledge of what’s working and knows how to run a large school system during a time when dollars are tight," said the Broad Academy.

Three other top contenders for the job include Mary Ellen Caron, aDaley confidant and cabinet member who also was an assistant to the Chicago schools CEO and a former Catholic school principal; Terry Mazany, the president of the Chicago Community Trust and a former school administrator in Michigan and California; and Barbara Lumpkin, who is currently the deputy CEO of CPS for external affairs.  She's also a former Daley cabinet member.

The current mayor and the the leading possible candidates for new mayor all consider schools among their top issues. The question now is whether Daley will simply appoint a caretaker or someone who might also be a potential school leader for the new mayor.

It's no secret that Rahm Emanuel, for one, is planning to make school reform a central issue if he runs for mayor.  He may even kick off his campaign with a school as a backdrop.

Appointing Runci might be an attractive way for the mayor to at least attempt to create continuity for one of his proudest legacies.

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