Auditor Blasts Ackerman Bonus

Report found school chief's pay is "inappropriate"

A performance audit of Philadelphia schools included harsh criticism of the superintendent''s salary and bonuses.

Philadelphia Superintendent of Schools Arlene Ackerman has an overly "generous" compensation package, according to state Auditor General Jack Wagner.

Ackerman earns $348,000 and received a bonus of $65,000 bonus last year. Her contract entitles her to an annual performance compensation of up to 20 percent of her annual salary.

"I have taken a position going back three years, saying there should not be bonuses with the use of public money," Wagner said when the audit was released.

The report on the School District of Philadelphia covered the period from October 2006 through May 2010. It looked at the district's compliance with state laws, regulations, contracts, grants requirements and administrative procedures.

Wagner said while the audit did not specifically examine school administrators' salaries, he found the employment contract awarded to Ackerman by the School Reform Commission (SRC) was disturbing.

A statement from the school district said detailed responses to the audit were submitted to Wagner, disputing many of the conclusions in the report. The superintendent's salary was not addressed in the response that was included with the audit report.

The Auditor General's office conducts performance audits every three or four years on all 500 school districts in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia has 284 schools, serving 165,000 students, making it the state's largest district.

The audit focused most of its attention on school safety and security.

"That's of greatest concern to the parents, the students and the employees of the school district of Philadelphia, said Wagner.

Wagner said the district does not have an independent Safe Schools Advocate, as required by state law.

School district officials said state funding for the position was eliminated from the Fiscal Year 2009-2010 budget. The position had an annual budget of $342,000 when it was cut in 2009.

The Auditor General's office said the school district should make it a priority to push the governor and state lawmakers to restore the money to fill the job.

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