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Committee of Seventy: Reveal donor names

by Erika Owens on Aug 22 2011 Posted in Latest news

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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Comments (16)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 19:37.

OBVIOUSLY, if trust is really so vital, Nunnery and Archie both need to go. I bet they DON'T. It's all a farce.

Submitted by Wake Up Philly (not verified) on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 20:02.

Queen Ackerman did pretty good almost $1M in cash along with the other perks. Those that hired her in the first place and did not take into account what happened in the other districts should be hung by their toes! Parents need to be part of the search process in choosing the next person.
Stay focused in the City to find someone to be the Superintendent, CEO along with a good CAO, before you go nationally. Let's stop with these superstar names who rape us financially each and every time. There are a few good people in the district and I don't mean Nunnery, and some others who left for various positions and places. Stop the politics!
Who is next and how will they rape us financially? Unfortunately, I don't foresee anyone learning a lesson from this debacle!
To paraphrase "It's all about the children." Yeah, right! Next!!!!

Submitted by Wake Up Philly (not verified) on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 20:02.

Queen Ackerman did pretty good almost $1M in cash along with the other perks. Those that hired her in the first place and did not take into account what happened in the other districts should be hung by their toes! Parents need to be part of the search process in choosing the next person.
Stay focused in the City to find someone to be the Superintendent, CEO along with a good CAO, before you go nationally. Let's stop with these superstar names who rape us financially each and every time. There are a few good people in the district and I don't mean Nunnery, and some others who left for various positions and places. Stop the politics!
Who is next and how will they rape us financially? Unfortunately, I don't foresee anyone learning a lesson from this debacle!
To paraphrase "It's all about the children." Yeah, right! Next!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 20:50.

Arlene C. Ackerman's predecessor had some harsh words for her buyout.

Former CEO Paul Vallas, who left Philadelphia in 2007, said that "in this climate of fiscal distress with huge layoffs of teachers and administrators, to offer anyone $900,000 not to work is unconscionable. I think the people who agreed to this deal ought to have their heads examined.”

Of the private donations, Vallas said, “That’s about as outrageous as it gets. If you are going to raise $400,000 in private money, give it to a school, for crying out loud.”

Vallas got a buyout of $180,000 when he left the district in 2007. He went on to be schools chief in New Orleans, leaving that district this year. He's now a consultant, doing work in Haiti on rebuilding schools there.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 20:52.

Arlene C. Ackerman's predecessor had some harsh words for her buyout.

Former CEO Paul Vallas, who left Philadelphia in 2007, said that "in this climate of fiscal distress with huge layoffs of teachers and administrators, to offer anyone $900,000 not to work is unconscionable. I think the people who agreed to this deal ought to have their heads examined.”

Of the private donations, Vallas said, “That’s about as outrageous as it gets. If you are going to raise $400,000 in private money, give it to a school, for crying out loud.”

Vallas got a buyout of $180,000 when he left the district in 2007. He went on to be schools chief in New Orleans, leaving that district this year. He's now a consultant, doing work in Haiti on rebuilding schools there.

Submitted by Laid off Teacher (not verified) on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 21:25.

I'm confused, if she is stepping down then why should we pay her anything?

Will teachers get their jobs back?

Submitted by MacMaven (not verified) on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 22:07.

She didn't step down, she was paid to leave. Most of the veteran teachers that have been through this before are pretty sure that all laid off certified teachers will be working again. I don't think that Ackerman's dismissal has any connection to teachers getting their jobs back. Teachers will be asked to return as they are needed.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 22:22.

I agree-all the teachers will be back sooner or later. In fact, there will be a shortage as always.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 18:22.

Do oyu even think teachers on an emergency cert will be asked backed?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 18:29.

I absolutely do--just a matter of time.

Submitted by Lucky Lady (not verified) on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 23:51.

I'm one of the recently laid off teachers - certified in Special Education - and now, Secondary Math and Secondary Physical Sciences (Physics/Chemistry). I, for one, will NOT be back. Those of us with certifications in high demand (Math/Science/SPED/ Foreign Languages) areas did not have the same difficulty finding new positions in other school districts that so many of our less fortunate colleagues experienced. Come September, I will be working in a suburban district for considerably more money - as will many other former SDP teachers certified in hard-to-fill subject areas - and I am a very happy lady. Good luck to the PSD in finding qualified replacements for those of us who were driven out. My prayers and sincere best wishes go out to my long-suffering colleagues in this time of tribulation. You folks deserved the very best and all you got was Arlene Ackerman and Leroy Nunery. Per ardua ad astra!

Submitted by Teachwhocares on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 13:03.

Congrats to you and best wishes at your new assignment.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 18:32.

Now, you're just showing off--Best of Luck.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/24/2011 - 15:21.

Good for you. But at this point who cares. Great if your moving to the suburbs but right now we are caring about the people that are still laid off from the school district.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/24/2011 - 11:47.

Glad you'mre gonna get paid. Too bad for the kids who really need help if you are so damn great.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/24/2011 - 15:20.

I agree with your posts. If you have all these certs. then why didn't Philadelphia School District keep you. Stop rubbing it in that you are moving to the suburbs to teach. It's not all about the money.

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