Mayor Nutter said during a City Hall press conference today that he was aware of conversations surrounding the embattled Schools Superintendent’s departure since June but he was mum as to the reasons behind the move.
News broke shortly before noon that Arlene Ackerman’s days as Schools Superintendent had come to an end. Ackerman’s contract granted her more than $1.5 million. She departed with $905,000. Anonymous private donations constituted $405,000 which will be placed into the Philadelphia Children First fund and then transferred to Ackerman, said Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald.
Nutter said he supported the decision and he “stayed in touch with the SRC not only about the decision but how to ultimately get to a settlement.”
“Certainly the SRC advised me about what those conversations were and what they were looking to do,” Nutter said. “There was never any pressure or any effort on my part with regards to what ultimately would happen or what would be the decision of the School Reform Commission.”
Nutter would not say what Ackerman did wrong but added the decision was made between the SRC and Ackerman months ago.
“I think it’s fairly well reported that it was a pretty tough year given the magnitude of budgetary challenges we had to face,” Nutter said. “It’s just been a tough year. All of that has to be at least counter balanced and recognized.”
The district has made $629 million in budget cuts with an additional $35 million more to trim.
Nutter said he became involved to help limit the amount of public dollars that would be needed to buy Ackerman out.
“When I subsequently became aware that there was this potential effort to try to raise some non-school district or non-taxpayer dollars to help support whatever the terms of the settlement would be... I was asked would I support that kind of effort and my response was yes because my interest was in minimizing the amount of public money that might go towards that settlement,” Nutter said.
Nutter was upset in June after Ackerman left him out of the loop on her decision to save full-day kindergarten.
The focus now, he said should be on moving forward, the start of the school year on Sept. 6 and finding a new Schools Superintendent. Dr. Leroy Nunery has been named Acting Schools Superintendent.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Nutter said. “A transition is taking place, we all need to move on.”