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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: July, 2012

POSTED: Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 9:49 AM
Mayor Nutter (presiding at a signing ceremony in April) is again giving up a pay raise this year, but 22 top staffers are keeping theirs for the first time in three years.

You may remember when Mayor Nutter said in the midst of the budget crisis in 2008 that he and his top staffers would be taking pay cuts. But did you know that 22 of Nutter's top aides quietly stopped taking those cuts in January?

Read our article (below), which appeared in the Daily News, below to find out more. You can also listen to our radio report on the topic for WHYY.

Holly Otterbein @ 9:49 AM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Friday, July 27, 2012, 4:53 PM
Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky expressed concerns about renewing Belmont Charter.

On Friday, the School Reform Commission postponed its decision about whether to keep a charter school open, citing concerns about budgeting and enrollment.
Belmont Charter, a 1-8 school, wants to have its license renewed and add 275 seats. Each new charter seat costs the district an estimated $7,000 annually, according to officials.
The district, which recently projected that charter expansions approved this spring will cost $139 million over five years, recommended renewing the charter but adding no extra seats.
Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky questioned the district’s assumption that there would be no additional seats at the school. 
Belmont Charter differs from many other charter schools because it draws its students from a specific location. The charter estimates that it will need the additional seats because enrollment has steadily increased. 
“How do we predict our budget?” Dworetzky asked. “Those 275 seats are going to cost the same 7,000 bucks.”
Thomas Darden, the district’s deputy for strategic initiatives, disagreed that the charter would expand as much as predicted.
The SRC decided to withdraw the resolution to renew Belmont Charter, but will consider it later. The Commissioners also authorized the renewal of the Belmont Academy charter, but didn’t grant its request for an additional 250 seats. Belmont Academy is a feeder school for Belmont Charter, serving pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students.

On Friday, the School Reform Commission postponed its decision about whether to keep a charter school open, citing concerns about budgeting and enrollment.

Belmont Charter, a 1-8 school, wants to have its license renewed and add 275 seats. Each new charter seat costs the district an estimated $7,000 annually, according to officials.

Holly Otterbein @ 4:53 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 10:39 PM
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?

Holly Otterbein @ 10:39 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 8:26 PM

Tonight, the School Reform Commission unanimously hired William Hite as the School District's new superintendent, beginning by October 1. His annual salary will be $300,000.

Check out Hite's contract below.

Curious about how Hite's contract stacks up to former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman's much-criticized contract? Take a look at Ackerman's contract, which was signed in 2008 and then extended in 2011.


Holly Otterbein @ 8:26 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 6:32 PM
Mayor Nutter said in a press release that the consultant will "ensure that Philadelphia’s tax dollars will be put to best use."

The city is paying a consultant at least $200,000 to make recommendations aimed at improving tax collections and lowering overhead costs, like utility and gasoline bills. 

“This is something of a first,” said mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald.

The city will pay FTI Consulting $200,000 in addition to a 3 percent “success fee,” according to McDonald. For instance, if the company saves the city $10 million, it will earn a success fee of $300,000. That fee is capped at $700,000, though, which would require the company tracking down more than $23 million in savings actually implemented by the city.

Holly Otterbein @ 6:32 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 4:02 PM
State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams

Earlier this month, we talked to Daily News Editorial Page editor Sandra Shea about the Educational Improvement Tax Credit. The program gives a tax break to corporations that provide funding for scholarships to private and parochial schools. She argued that there hasn't been enough oversight of the program.  

Listen to this week's It's Our Money podcast, in which we chat with state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, a supporter of the tax credit.

Holly Otterbein and Doron Taussig @ 4:02 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 12:32 PM

Media is the watchdog of tax dollars. But that doesn't mean it never benefits from public money.

Check out our article about how taxpayers are helping pay for renovations at Interstate General Media's new home, which appeared in the Daily News. You can also listen to our radio report on the topic for WHYY.

Holly Otterbein @ 12:32 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 4:45 PM
Councilman Jim Kenney sent a letter to Thomas Knudsen, the chief recovery officer for the School District, about his budget concerns.

Councilman Jim Kenney says the School District shouldn't have counted on receiving an additional $94 million from the city this fiscal year. Doing so, he says in a letter, "has simply continued a pattern of financial mismanagement that has forced deep cuts to important education programs."

He's also sick of Council being criticized for not sending more money to the schools, he says, even though it voted last month to give schools an extra $40 million.

"It's not even appreciated," he says. "Harrisburg, what are they doing? We're doing our best."

Holly Otterbein @ 4:45 PM  Permalink | 0
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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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