PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Embattled Philadelphia schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman is voicing surprise at a published report saying that local businesses have been asked to chip in to buy out her contract.

The Philadelphia Inquirer quotes unnamed sources as saying that in the last few weeks some local business leaders have been asked to contribute to a nonprofit, with the funds earmarked toward a buyout of Ackerman’s contract.

A spokesperson for Ackerman said by e-mail that the superintendent is “surprised and disappointed” by the story.  She did not elaborate.

Weighing in on this is Zack Stalberg, head of the political watchdog group Committee of 70, who says that private donations for a public sector buyout would be wrong.

“There is always the risk that a company or individual that plays ball with an unusual request like this, then expects or gets a reward in the form of a public contract,” Stalberg tells KYW Newsradio.

Ackerman’s tenure has come into doubt in the wake of a massive district deficit topping $600 million (see related stories).

Reported by Mike Dunn, KYW Newsradio 1060

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