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9 May 2022

Operations / Administration Chief Operating Officer, Chicago Public Schools

Alma Advisory Group
 Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States

Job Description

Who We Are

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the third largest school district in the United States, serving over 330,000 students in 600+ schools and employing over 40,000 people, most of them teachers. CPS has ambitious goals to ensure that every student, in every school and every neighborhood, has access to a world-class learning experience that prepares each for success in college, career and civic life. In order to fulfill this mission, we make three commitments to our students, their families and all Chicagoans: academic progress, financial stability and integrity. Five core principles are embedded within these commitments – high-quality, rigorous instruction, talented and empowered educators, safety and support, financial stability and collective impact.

Who You Are

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Chief Operating Officer (COO) plays a critical role in advancing the district’s strategic priorities, and ensuring equitable allocation of resources to schools in alignment with CPS’ mission and core principles. The Chief Operating Officer is responsible for establishing policies and procedures to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of all operational functions across the district. This cabinet officer role oversees and directs the following areas: Facilities, Safety & Security, Procurement, Nutrition Support Services, Student Transportation Services, and Information and Technology Services.

Your Responsibilities

Sustain an Equity- and Service- Driven Department

  • Establish a clear and compelling vision and mission for how the Operations department directly supports student success within the district.
  • Ensure resources are allocated to schools equitably in order to efficiently and effectively meet the needs of all CPS schools, students and staff.
  • Collaborate with the operational team department heads to implement systems to ensure timely response and impeccable service to schools and central office staff and other stakeholders.
  • Confront preconceptions and model open dialogue about racial equity with peers, staff, students and the community.
  • Review and assess district policies and decisions through an equity lens to foster a culture of continuous improvement in helping CPS become a more student-centered district.

Establish the Strategic Direction for all Operations Functions

  • Spearhead performance, and effectiveness district’s operational departments and lead the planning, development, and execution of the district’s operational short and long term strategic goals, objectives, and initiatives.
  • Direct the development of master plans for the district’s facilities, assessing overall utilization, and developing innovative uses for CPS facilities that support CPS’s mission and vision.
  • Assess IT needs within the district and develop a plan to update existing technology to optimize services to schools and minimize paper-driven and inefficient systems across the district.
  • Ensure the operational efficiency of the Procurement function, partnering with the department head to review and update key practices and policies.
  • Oversee development and maintenance of tools to monitor implementation of initiatives, business operations, and ensure compliance with established operational policies and procedures. Proactively identify, analyze, and address off-track metrics to achieve outlined goals and objectives.
  • Responsible for the determination and execution of all the budgets for operational departments in compliance with established local, state, and federal policies and regulations.
  • Partner with Finance to implement cost savings initiatives to reduce wasteful operational spending and align district resources to the organizational priorities.

Lead a Successful Team

  • Supervise deputy chief operating officer and operational chiefs and provide them with ongoing coaching and development.
  • Identify opportunities for cross-functional collaboration and align teams to realize efficiencies.
  • Supervise, mentor, evaluate and provide professional growth and development opportunities for staff.
  • Build and cultivate a strong operations team culture
  • Manage and allocate resources (e.g., money, people, and time) strategically and equitably so that they align to schools’ needs.

Represent Operations with Stakeholders

  • Under the direction of the Chief Executive Officer, interface extensively with Board of Education members to support CPS initiatives and provide expertise and recommendations to Board members. Attend all Board meetings and functions in order to represent operational departments.
  • Coordinate with external partners, including City Hall and community-based organizations, to align equity efforts citywide.
  • Partner with internal and external stakeholders to identify opportunities to improve and streamline processes and policies.
  • Use and analyze data to drive decisions and guide problem-solving to achieve the best student outcomes. Share data with broad audiences to improve transparency and communication.

Skills Needed for Success

Strategic Planning, Organization and Effective Execution

  • Strategic and critical thinker with a proven ability to lead thoughtful, transformative action within complex organizations.
  • In-depth knowledge and experience in leading data-driven practices including distilling analysis into insights and translating insights into systemic action.
  • Offer innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems and adapt strategy to changing conditions.
  • Exhibit a strong focus on goals and results. Set clear metrics for success.
  • Prioritize and plan activities, monitor progress continually and demonstrate persistence to overcome obstacles to achieve goals.
  • Ability to effectively achieve multiple goals and manage multiple priorities and projects simultaneously.

Influence and Leadership

  • Create clear compelling vision; proven ability to build consensus among diverse stakeholders to lead and drive change, including influencing and motivating others toward a common goal.
  • Communicate effectively, tailoring messages for the audience, context, and mode of communication.
  • Listen actively to others and effectively interpret motivations/perceptions. Seek and integrate feedback from others to achieve better results.
  • Build positive relationships and coalitions. Maintain visibility and work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders at all levels (i.e. district staff, students, families, communities, advocacy groups, etc.).
  • Collaborate with multiple departments, schools, or organizations to achieve convergence in strategy and practice.
  • Navigate political structures, relationships, and dynamics to improve results and amplify access for all students.

Team Leadership and Management

  • Lead a creative, innovative, and high-functioning team; delegate and leverage the team effectively to drive for impactful results and achieve ambitious goals.
  • Assess team and individual skills and identify development needs; provide feedback and support to improve practice, build capacity, and maximize talent.
  • Promote professional learning and utilize effective adult learning techniques.
  • Lead teams to collaborate with other departments, teams, and stakeholders.
  • Knowledge and Expertise in Operations, Technology, Facilities and Procurement
  • Possess a track record of launching, developing and maintaining strong facilities plans.
  • Leverage technology for improved efficiency and growth and remain current on emerging technology and trends.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of federal, state, and local regulation and compliance related to bonds, construction, procurement, and Nutrition Support Services..

Racial Equity Lens

  • Deep knowledge of research, principles, and practices around diversity, inclusion, and racial equity.
  • Ability to meaningfully engage a wide variety of diverse stakeholders in challenging dialogue and critical self-reflection around racial identity, implicit bias, systemic racism, and structural inequities.
  • Passion and urgency for addressing racial inequities and improving the lives of students and families in Chicago.


In order to be successful and achieve the above responsibilities, the Chief Operating Officer will possess the following qualifications:

  • Master’s Degree in Business Administration or a related field from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum of 10 years of strategic senior leadership experience in a large, fast-paced and high-functioning organization required; Urban school district or public institution experience preferred
  • Proven track record of successfully leading a large, complex organization and a broad range of stakeholders to reach ambitious goals around major change management initiatives
  • Experience in guiding data-driven inquiry to drive a culture of continuous improvement

Conditions of Employment

As a condition of employment with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), employees are required to:

  • Establish and Maintain Chicago Residency
  • Employees are required to live within the geographic boundaries of the City of Chicago within six months of their CPS hire date and maintain residency throughout their employment with the district.
  • Be Fully Vaccinated or Submit to Weekly COVID-19 Testing
  • Employees are required to be fully vaccinated within 30 days of their hire date. Full vaccination is defined as at least two weeks after your second shot of a two-shot vaccination course, or at least two weeks after a one-shot vaccination course. Unvaccinated staff must submit to weekly testing.

How to Apply

Alma Advisory Group is honored to support Chicago Public Schools in their search for the next Chief Operating Officer.  Interested candidates may apply online at:

Bureaus: Chicago. Job Categories: Full-Time. Job Types: Operations / Administration. Salaries: 100,000 and above.