S2/Swell wins its second Chicago Public Schools contract to produce semi-monthly cable TV show

The Board of Education last week awarded S2/Swell an enviable $575,465 contract for a TV series?but not without public opposition.

The Teachers Union, school advocates and concerned parents charged the show’s budget could have paid for almost 10 classroom teachers.

It always comes in a year when the Board of Education made deep budget cuts in school programs and staff.

Peter Cunningham, the school board’s director of external affairs who made the decision, defended the contract. It was a good investment, he said, and he believed the show was another way to reach parents who might not read newspapers or the internet.

Twenty new half-hour “CPS Right Now!” shows will air during the 2006-07 school year over municipal cable Chs. 23 and 49.

A new show airs every two weeks at 5 and 6:30 p.m. Each show focuses on three topics which include interviews with students, teachers, parents and special events taking place within the schools.

S2/Swell will be paid $27,730 per show.

Swell was selected from among bidders Del Hall Video, Peter Karl Productions, KRT Productions, Taproot Productions, Fries Frame Productions and National Video Documentors.

Swell’s Mike Topel attributed winning the business to his company’s more professional and creative job of selling the proposal.

“It was a killer presentation,” agreed one of the bidders.

Swell president Monna O’Brien, account executive Carissa Ruess and producer Julie Hudgins had prepared the creative side of the proposal and their first presentation resulted in a second round of presenting creative, Topel said.

John Anderson directs and edits the shows; producer Bob Fox of the board’s communications department is liaison between the school board and S2/Swell.

Last January, S2/Swell was awarded a $190,000 contract for the production of six “CPS Right Now!” shows. Anderson started shooting in March and the shows aired through July.

The school board’s video department had done some work with John Anderson when he’d been a partner at Superior Street?which declared Chapter 11 just a year ago?and liked his approach to the assignments.

Anderson, by then at Swell in January, was invited to bid on the $190,000 contract.

Swell, in Chapter 11 reorganization, will auction its equipment Tuesday, Sept. 18 at the NBC Tower, 18th floor, starting at 10 a.m. Inspection Monday, Sept. 11 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Joseph Finn auctioneers of Boston will conduct the auction.