Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has been awarded a $65,000 performance bonus, an official confirmed Monday night.
The bonus, awarded by the School Reform Commission, is on top of Ackerman's $325,000 salary. She became the head of the nation's eighth-largest school district in June 2008.
Including perks such as the bonus, life insurance, and pension, Ackerman is paid almost $500,000 annually.
Fernando Gallard, a spokesman for the Philadelphia School District, said Ackerman received the bonus "as detailed in her contract." The pact calls for the superintendent to receive the money if she meets benchmarks.
In a statement, Commission Chair Robert L. Archie Jr. said the panel was pleased with Ackerman's performance. He said Ackerman "went through an extensive evaluation process and exceeded all 21 benchmarks." Archie added that he hoped she would stay an additional 10 years.
Ackerman also pledged to award five scholarships to district children and has donated $1,000 to the district's Widener School for disabled children.
She gets the same health insurance as other district managers and gets raises equal to those given to district teachers. She gets 34 days of vacation and can trade up to four for cash annually. She will be paid for any unused vacation time when she leaves the district.
Ackerman also receives a BlackBerry and a cell phone, plus a laptop, printer, and fax machine to use at home. She also gets a district-paid car.
If Ackerman stays through next June, she will earn an extra $100,000. Her contract expires in 2013.
Ackerman's package, including perks, is in line with that of former district chief Paul Vallas, who left to head the New Orleans Recovery District.
Her tenure has been controversial. Though about half of city students cannot read or do math on grade level, test scores have risen under Ackerman's watch, and she introduced an ambitious five-year strategic plan. Ackerman frequently has said that the plan will help schools accelerate reform.
But she has taken heat for her handling of racial violence at South Philadelphia High School and the resignation of an outspoken watchdog commission member last year.