Seven cuts that the school district should make to help close its $629 million budget hole:
1. Superintendent Arlene Ackerman's salary: Does she really need to make more than $350,000? Wouldn't a salary closer to Mayor Nutter's $167,000 suffice?
2. Other nonunion district staffers making $100,000 or more are scheduled to take six unpaid furlough days. How about the unions accept unpaid spring break for its members? You're not working anyway, so why not go without pay for one week? Teachers alone would save the district roughly $45 million.
3. Get rid of consultants and "feel good" contracts that rack up millions. Contracted services in transportation and communications alone cost the district $474 million in 2010. By 2012, the district plans to spend nearly 17 percent more, about $552 million.
4. Downsize the district's PR machine. The district budgeted $2.86 million for a 20-person communications office, a 21 percent hike from last year.
5. Cut down on the number of retreats, out-of-town seminars, business lunches and any other nondistrict activities that officials enjoy on our dime.
6. In 2001, the state made it clear that it needed to step in and save the school district from itself. Yet, the district foots the bill for the staff and operations of the School Reform Commission. Let the state pay for it.
7. End sabbaticals. Why pay an employee half of his salary plus benefits - and pay for a substitute - while he works on the next great American novel? We think he should get his full salary and report to work.
And seven better ways to raise money, instead of proposed tax hikes:
1. Extend weekend bar hours. Allow city bars to remain open an extra hour, until 3 a.m., and send the proceeds to the schools.
2. Better enforcement of the cellphone driving ban. How many times have you been pulled over because you were talking on your cellphone? Exactly.
3. Dining out for the schools. Restaurants already have special events where they donate some of their proceeds to good causes ... saving all-day kindergarten would seem to fit the bill.
4. Install digital billboards on city school buildings. The cost of bombarding your kids with advertising would be made up by them keeping their teacher.
5. The city's year-end surplus is expected to be at least $50 million. The city shouldn't draw down all of it, but using a bit of it makes sense.
6. The district could make good use of its buildings after hours by renting them to city agencies and businesses.
7. It's about time that the city finally collects past-due real-estate taxes, which will give the district a 60 percent slice of $500 million or $600 million.