Philadelphia Schools Chief Took Advance Pay for Vacation Days

Kristen A. Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer, August 23, 2010

Philadelphia schools chief Arlene Ackerman has collected cash for six days’ vacation pay ahead of schedule.

Ackerman’s contract gives her nearly seven weeks’ vacation annually–34 days in total. She can trade four of those days for money every year.

But district documents obtained by The Inquirer show that Ackerman, who has headed the district since June 2008, has been paid for 18 days–six more than she had earned.

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Ackerman took her first payout of $4,980.84–for four days–on Feb. 12, 2009, presumably for the 2008-09 school year.

A second check, also for $4,980.84, was cut on July 2, 2009, shortly after a new fiscal year began.

A third payout of $12,452.11–the equivalent of 10 days’ salary–was made on Dec. 4, 2009.

Ackerman had already received payment for four days for each of the two school years in which she had served, ostensibly making the payment an advance. Her contract with the district has no language that allows for an advance of vacation pay.

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At her current salary, six days’ vacation pay amounts to $7,471.26.

The vacation pay comes on top of Ackerman’s $338,000 annual salary and the $65,000 performance bonus she was paid this spring. If she stays through June, she gets a $100,000 retention bonus.

{snip}

I give 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she [Ackerman] said. “I hope people can move past focusing on me and look at the results.”

She spoke at an event celebrating the district’s state test results. For the first time since Pennsylvania began keeping track under the federal No Child Left Behind law, more than 50 percent of city schoolchildren met standards in reading and math. There was also a 33 percent jump in the number of schools that met their goals, to 158 of 267 schools.

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“In my next life,” he [Zack Stalberg, head of the Committee of Seventy, a government watchdog group] said, “I want to be a school superintendent in Philadelphia.”

Former schools chief Paul Vallas was not allowed to cash in vacation days during his tenure, but he did receive payment for unused vacation time when he left the district. Vallas had 30 vacation days a year to Ackerman’s 34.

Ackerman’s contract also allows her to be paid for unused vacation time when she leaves the district.

{snip}

superintendant

Arlene Ackerman is convinced she’s worth every penny.

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