The identity of the city school district's new interim chief executive officer should be announced within the next five business days, School Reform Commission Chairman James Nevels said yesterday.

Details about the soon-to-be-launched national search to find a permanent CEO to replace Paul Vallas will be made at the same time, Nevels said following the commission's regular meeting.

The winner of Tuesday's Philadelphia mayoral primary election will be consulted on the selection of the permanent CEO, he said, but not on the interim - which does not require such outreach.

"I think it's absolutely appropriate in the case of the permanent. We're going to put together a very comprehensive design for public comment and input into the characteristics - if you will - of the next leader," Nevels said.

School officials have said the interim leader may stay in office for up to a year to allow for a thorough national search.

Last week, Vallas was named superintendent of the New Orleans Recovery School District , with a start date of, on or after July 1.

He has been in that city since last week serving as an education consultant.

Concerning the school district's budget for 2007-08 - which is saddled with a large deficit and is to be voted on May 29 - the reform commission heard from concerned parents and students.

Jud Aaron led a group of parents from Meredith School, 5th and Fitzwater streets, in asking the panel to restore a teaching position slated for elimination.

That teacher's loss, Aaron said, would result in the school's second- and third-grade classes' having to merge into one large, dysfunctional class.

"This is a recipe for academic failure. Those with options will opt out." he said.

"Those without options will simply despair."

After the meeting, Nevels said the budget situation has left much unsettled for next year.

"We're going to do everything we can to keep the reforms intact and the progress in place. However, we're going to look at everything. It's not a pleasant prospect to think of taking a teacher out of a school," he said.

"But the reality is we have a deficit. We are asking for more money; we are going to address this."

In other news, district officials are asking for help in finding out who stole $9,000 from the principal's office at Jenks Elementary School in South Philadelphia.

The money was generated during a Friday fundraiser sponsored by the school's Home and School Association.

It was intended to be used to pay for a fun fair and to buy books, district spokesman Fernando Gallard said.

The money was locked inside the office over the weekend and discovered missing on Monday. "Everyone is very, very heartbroken by this," said Gallard, who urged anyone with information about the theft to call the police or the school. *