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Ackerman creates new ‘chief’ position at $180,000

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has created a new high-level post in her administration and hired Leroy Nunery, a former executive at Edison Schools and a finalist for Ackerman’s position when she was hired nearly two years ago.

Nunery will earn more than Mayor Nutter – a whopping $180,000 a year – as chief of institutional advancement and strategic partnerships. His catch-all job description involves fundraising, promoting outside partnerships, and revamping the Intermediate Unit (IU) to provide better and more organized technical assistance to both District-operated and charter schools.

As a consultant last year, Nunery helped Ackerman develop the Renaissance Schools plan, which is engaged in the "turnaround" of low-performing schools primarily through bringing in outside managers and converting them to charters.

Nunery, who founded a consulting firm called Plus Ultre, also staffed the Renaissance Schools Advisory Board. In a report prepared for the District as part of that project, he was critical of how the diverse provider model was implemented in 2002, the first time outside managers were hired in Philadelphia to run schools. The managers agreed to work without autonomy over budgets and staff and there was little community buy-in. He worked for Edison Schools as its president of school management after it became the largest outside provider hired by the District to manage schools.

Nunery was also a member of the second charter school task force that worked on ways to improve the District’s relationship with and oversight of charter schools.

Between 1999 and 2005, he was a vice president at the University of Pennsylvania with responsibility for neighborhood partnerships in West Philadelphia.

One of his duties at the District is to maximize the effectiveness of the Intermediate Unit, a separate fiscal entity with the responsibility for providing technical assistance to districts. There are 29 in Pennsylvania and they serve several districts or an entire county. Besides technical assistance in various areas, they also sometimes operate vo-tech schools and special education.

Philadelphia is the only District in the state that is also its own IU.

Nunery started work on April 1, but neither his job nor his salary has yet to be approved by the School Reform Commission. His hiring was not on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting.

The District’s 2010-11 budget, which is expected to be much tighter than this year’s, will be introduced at a special SRC meeting on Wednesday, April 21.

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