Thursday, April 17, 2014
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How Hite's contract compares to Ackerman's

Who could ever forget former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s $905,000 buyout?

How Hite's contract compares to Ackerman's

Incoming Superintendent William Hite
Incoming Superintendent William Hite

Who could ever forget former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s $905,000 buyout?

Last year, Ackerman was paid that amount to leave the school district as a result of the terms of her contract. Her contract was criticized for other reasons, too. It made her eligible for a retention bonus, performance compensation, payments for unused sick days, a Blackberry, car and other benefits.

On Wednesday, the School Reform Commission approved a five-year contract for incoming Superintendent William Hite, who begins by October 1. How does Hite’s contract compare to Ackerman’s?

Salary: Hite’s base salary is $300,000, which is less than Ackerman's. (It's worth noting, however, that Hite will be paid more than the highest-paid city official as of April, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, whose salary is $255,000.)

How it compares: In 2008, Ackerman’s base salary was $325,000. By the end of her time in Philly, it was was $348,140.

The buyout: Hite is eligible for a buyout if he is fired without cause, but it would be considerably less than Ackerman’s unpopular payment. He would receive 9 months of his salary and benefits, in addition to getting three months’ notice. (Unless, that is, he was fired with less than nine months left on his contract. Then he would get his salary and benefits for the remainder of the agreement.)

How it compares: When Ackerman was let go without cause in 2011, she was eligible to collect about three years of her salary and benefits. 

Performance bonus: After his first year, Hite will be eligible for a performance bonus of up to 20 percent of his salary. His performance will be based on various criteria, including student test scores, graduation rates and teacher absenteeism.

How it compares: Starting in her first year, Ackerman was eligible for a performance bonus of up to 20 percent of her salary. The criteria for Ackerman’s performance evaluation was not spelled out in her contract.

Retention bonus: Hite is not eligible for a retention bonus.

How it compares: Ackerman was entitled to a retention bonus of $100,000. Ackerman’s contract also stated that after her first year, her salary would increase “at the same time and at the same percentage rate as for full-time teaching personnel.” Conversely, Hite’s salary is not increasing in conjunction with teachers’ pay.

Vacation days, business expenses and other goodies: Each year, Hite is eligible for five weeks of vacation and three personal days. He can be compensated for up to five unused vacation days annually. He will also be reimbursed for “reasonable business expenses.” Hite’s contract states that the school district will give him “necessary technology for the performance of his duties,” though specific items are not mentioned. The School District also must reimburse Hite with up to $22,500 in relocation expenses and legal fees to negotiate the contract itself.

How it compares: Ackerman got more than six-and-a-half weeks of vacation and three personal days annually. She was to be compensated for all unused vacation and personal days. Ackerman was also reimbursed for “reasonable business expenses.” Unlike Hite’s contract, hers also required that the school district pay for her dues to professional organizations, like the American Association of School Administrators, as well a “late-model car or similar vehicle,” Blackberry, laptop, and home printer/fax machine. Plus, it mandated that the School District pay up to $15,000 in relocation expenses and legal fees to negotiate the contract itself.

This article also appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News. It has been updated to include additional information.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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