New Phila. schools chief announces key hires

Arlene Ackerman, Philadelphia's incoming schools chief executive officer, today outlined her priorities for her first 100 days and named two key cabinet members.

In an appearance before the School Reform Commission, Ackerman announced the appointment of Michael Masch as the chief business officer at $220,000 per year. Masch, the state's budget secretary and a former member of the SRC and the earlier school board, will report directly to Ackerman. Gov. Rendell has long advocated for Masch to become the district's chief fiscal officer.

Ackerman also named Tomas Hanna to the $180,000 post of chief of school operations. Hanna, who previously served in the district as a teacher, principal and senior vice president for human resources, will return from Providence, R.I., where he was a deputy superintendent.

Ackerman said she will wait to fill her third cabinet post of chief academic officer. She said she plans to serve in the job herself for four to six months until she finds the right person. The job was formerly held by Cassandra Jones, who recently resigned.

She also announced that the district regional superintendents would report to her.

Ackerman disclosed the appointments as she outlined her priorities for her first 100 days as the district's chief executive officer, a job she officially starts on Sunday.

She titled her goals as "reclaiming our youth, one student at a time." She detailed these priorities: flattening the district's bureaucracy, putting more focus on district schools, putting more focus on the equitable allocation of all resources, holding all adults accountable, and ensuring fiscal accountability.

The SRC also gave public thanks to Tom Brady, the outgoing schools chief who will become superintendent in Providence.

The meeting continued with the SRC members going into executive session before taking action on a new district budget.

Rendell praised Ackerman's appointment of Masch calling him a "key player" in the five years he has served in his administration. Masch, 57, a native of Washington D.C., also served as budget director from 1991 to 1996 when Rendell was Philadelphia mayor.

"I know that Michael will bring all these qualities to his new role at the school district and he will do the same superb job for the district on behalf of the children in the city as he did for us.

"No large urban district can achieve progress without strong fiscal discipline and a creative approach to seemingly intractable problems. Mike has these qualities and more to offer to the school district," the Governor said.


Rendell has not named a replacement. Masch will remain in his state post through the end of June to oversee state budget negotiations.

Contact staff writer Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146 or kgraham@phillynews.com