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Philadelphia Councilmembers Grill Schools Chief As Funding Controversy Deepens

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman went before Philadelphia City Council today, hat in hand, asking for a $102-million bailout.

But Council members are openly questioning Ackerman’s spending priorities.

Ackerman wants the money to cover one-sixth of the school district’s massive deficit (see related story), and City Council faces a difficult choice of raising part of that cash through either a soda tax or a property tax hike (another related story).

Some Council members, including Jim Kenney and Bill Green, grilled Ackerman on why there is already money for some pet programs like a brief summer program called “Slam” ($24 million) although she needs a similar amount of new money ($21 million) in order to lower class sizes.

“Obviously, class size is important,” Ackerman told Green.

(Green:) “But the question is, is it more important to you than Slam, and Saturday attendance?  And if not, shouldn’t it be?”

(Ackerman:) “It’s number two on the list.”

After about five hours of testimony and discussion, and without any consensus among councilmembers on how to solve the funding dilemma, a resumption of the hearing was scheduled for next week.

Reported by KYW City Hall Bureau chief Mike Dunn

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  • Is this Carl Greens Sister

    This ladyi is doing the same thing that Carl Green did at PHA, It took the City 10 yrs to figure out all the mismanagement going on at PHA. Greene laid off around 5,000 employee 3 yrs ago. Akerman is doing the same thing he did. Both claiming the didi not have enough money. But both made over $300,000 a year. I hope that they investigate her. Who knows what else they’ll find

  • Daniele

    Its amazing that this nonsense didn’t come out until after the May elections. If anyone in City Council votes for any new taxes for the school system, we should vote them out of office in November. The school system is a joke. They have enough money. Make cuts, plain and simple!. Summer school/SLAM is a joke. It is free babysitting on the taxpayers dime. If there are kids out there who failed during the regular 180 days of school, are they really going to pass after 18 days of same. Parents have no accountability for anything anymore. Catholic schools educate children for less money and their children are normally better schooled. I believe this is because there is parent accountability. If your child fails, you as a parent must pay for summer school and or a tutor. AGAIN, CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS RAISE MY TAXES IN ANYWAY SHAPE OR FORM, AND MY HUSBAND AND I WILL BE VOTING AGAINST YOU. By the way, Nutter needs to go as well. He is taxing mindless idiot. We don’t owe chidren anything … their parents do. I provide for mine … others should do for their own.

  • Edge

    It’s not jus philadelphia who has issue with can say across the country. what happen to the good old days when i bought home lunch to school

  • Hater

    Ackerman sure does make a lot of money for someone who doesn’t seem to have many viable solutions. Reminds me of some ex community organizer who hasn’t a clue as to how to do his job either.

    • Todd McDonald

      Oblique, but entertaining.

  • Times up Ackerman

    It’s time for Superintendent Arlene Ackerman to go,she’s clueless.Her priorities are messed up,she has no communication skills.(Ackerman:) “It’s number two on the list,number one on the list should be getting rid of you.

  • Angelo

    this city is run by fools. cut all municipal salaries in half. problem solved. if the people in the current position don’t like it, have them removed and hire someone who will. there are plenty of people unemployed who could use the job at half their salariy. not only will this solve the deficit problem they will be able to cut city wage tax in half, and stimulate the economy. this city is run by fools.

  • Check your priorities Ackerman.

    “SLAM” is a joke. Last year in my “SLAM” class, I had 21 children, only three who had actually failed. Many of them were on grade level and it was pretty much free babysitting for the month of July. I heard horror stories from other teachers where they had over 40 students in a classroom with supplies for only 20 students.
    I wish I had a smaller classroom size in summer SLAM so the students who really needed the intervention would receive it.

    • Wilma

      Why not make families pay for summer school (that’s what they are doing in the ‘burbs)? If their precious kid can’t pass the class in the regular school year, why not pay up for this program (21 million-really??).
      Maybe parents or grandparents would pay more attention to kids attendance and grades if their was any accountability in this school district.
      Unfortunately, there isn’t.


        The problem is that ANYONE can enroll, so as was stated earlier, it’s free babysitting. I taught SLAM last year and it was really a joke – I had kids who were on grade level doing basic addition and subtraction. As a previous poster said – make parents pay for summer school – but I guess we can’t do that so we’ll just continue to pass kids along.
        The money could be better spent on keeping teachers in the classroom!!

    • Todd McDonald

      Someone needs to ratchet down his sensitivity if ‘not enough school supplies’ qualifies as horror.

      • Todd McDonald

        Oh, I see. Because I am not part of your group, I’m not smart enough nor informed enough to have an opinion. Apparently only the special caste of high priests known as Philadelphia teachers are qualified to speak on the issue. A thousand pardons.

        This is horror:

        ‘Not enough school supplies’ is an unfortunate inconvenience. Get a grip.

      • Relax....

        Todd, clearly I don’t consider “not enough school supplies” as the same type of horror as perhaps a murder. I’m assuming you’re not a teacher in the inner city. I think you’re really underestimating how much planning needs to be done to control 40 students in a classroom that barely fits 30 children and occupy them for an entire day without supplies. It’s no easy task to do it with supplies during the school year, let alone during the summer with when don’t want to be there.

  • …And Now Comes the Grilling « Educational Musings

    […] does not appear to be any consensus among councilmembers on how to solve the funding dilemma. LikeBe the first to like this post.▶ No Responses /* 0) { […]

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