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Committee of Seventy: Reveal donor names

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The Committee of Seventy, a local good government watchdog group, is urging the School Reform Commission to reveal the names of the anonymous donors who contributed $405,000 towards Superintendent Arlene Ackerman's $905,000 buyout.

The SRC still needs to approve the buyout of Ackerman's contract. The deal will be presented at this Wednesday's SRC meeting. At a press conference Monday afternoon, Mayor Nutter said he worked to limit the taxpayers' burden for the buyout to $500,000 and "made a couple of calls" to potential donors.

He also said he thinks those who contributed donations are entitled to confidentiality.

"When people make contributions, some want to be known and some seek to be anonymous," he said. "If someone wants to remain anonymous, that is their choice."

 Zack Stalberg of the Committee of Seventy disagrees: “The SRC – and maybe Governor Corbett and Mayor Nutter – may think they’re doing the taxpayers a favor by finding a secret donor to finance part of the severance deal. But secrecy has huge potential downsides.”

He cautioned that it is important for the public to know who the donors are in order to better trace any potential "return of the favor" by the District or other branch of government.

If donors are insisting on "lack of transparency," Stalberg said, "find other donors."

The Committee of Seventy is also calling for the results of an investigation Nutter's administration launched into the backroom dealings surrounding a charter school operator for King High School. Both Leroy Nunery, now acting CEO, and SRC Chairman Robert Archie attended a private meeting about a charter contract for King that is a major part of the probe by city Chief Integrity Officer Joan Markman.

"The public's confidence in the School District is very fragile at the moment," Stalberg said.

The Committee of Seventy also issued an "In the Know" guide to who is in charge of the District.

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