Committee of Seventy: share schools superintendent contract with the public

Good government watchdog group Committee of Seventy called for the School Reform Commission to release information about the new schools superintendent's contract before and after a deal is reached. Check out the press release below:

PHILADELPHIA – June 26, 2012 – The Committee of Seventy today urged the School Reform Commission to be as transparent as practically possible by releasing the broad parameters of the new superintendent’s contract offer before it is finalized and the entire contract once the agreement is struck, which could come as early as this week.

"The public has a right to know the costs of bringing and keeping the new superintendent here,” said Zack Stalberg, Seventy’s President and CEO.

“Maximum transparency and full deliberation is especially important given the School District’s grave financial situation and past history of secrecy surrounding deals made with ex‐superintendent Arlene Ackerman by the former SRC,” Stalberg continued. “While revealing all the specifics of the contract while it is being negotiated may not be required or even desirable, the SRC can help diffuse a potential firestorm by providing some general information about the discussions with the two finalists for superintendent rather than risk the details leaking out in bits and pieces.”

Reported comments by SRC member Wendell E. Pritchett that a job offer could be made by the end of the week has raised some concerns that the SRC is acting too quickly. A public forum with the first superintendent finalist, Pedro Martinez, was held yesterday. William R. Hite, Jr. will meet the public tonight. Stalberg also urged the SRC to use the lessons learned from what he called the “overly generous” benefits given in 2008 to then‐incoming superintendent Arlene Ackerman in entering into a contract with her successor, in particular:

  • Tying any performance bonuses to objective criteria with public input.
  • Making public the performance evaluation.
  • Establishing modest financial caps on any future buy‐out packages.
  • Limiting the superintendent’s initial term to less than five years.
  • Eliminating a retention bonus.

In addition, Stalberg strongly urged the SRC to take into consideration the School District’s $218 million budget gap, pending employee layoffs and unresolved contract with the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ in setting the new superintendant’s annual base salary. With an annual base salary of $325,000, Arlene Ackerman earned $70,000 more than Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who is now the highest paid city employee.

“Confidence in the public schools is very fragile and the circumstances are unusually complicated,” Stalberg concluded. “The public is entitled to know the carrots being offered to persuade someone to give up a secure job to come to Philadelphia.”

The Committee of Seventy is a non‐partisan organization fighting for clean and effective government, fair elections and informed citizens in Philadelphia and throughout the region. For more information, see

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