Schools chief Arlene C. Ackerman on Friday saved full-day kindergarten but angered a powerful ally fighting for funds for the Philadelphia School District.
The kindergarten announcement came at an afternoon news conference.
"I've heard the voices of the community, the voices of our dedicated parents," Ackerman said. "We're going to celebrate today, but we have to fight tomorrow."
But the Nutter administration signaled that it was not happy at being kept in the dark on the kindergarten deal. Ackerman notified Mayor Nutter - who has strongly advocated for $75 million to $110 million in new city money for the district - only an hour before she made the announcement.
"It's a big problem," Mark McDonald, Nutter's press secretary, said emphatically Friday night. It was not immediately clear what the repercussions would be.
Earlier in the day, Nutter said he was "pleasantly surprised" at the announcement, but still planned to put forward proposals for a property-tax hike and a tax on sugary beverages to pump more money into the district.
Ackerman said news of the kindergarten deal, which affects 14,000 students, should signal to City Hall, Harrisburg, and others that "we are trying our best to use the funds in a strategic way."
Both Ackerman and Nutter said the fight was not over.
The district still needs millions in new money to bring back small class sizes, art and music, counselors, nurses, and special-education services, officials said.
In the past, kindergarten had been paid for by a $55 million state accountability block grant, which has been eliminated for 2011-12. Beginning next year, the district will use federal Title I money, dollars allocated to schools that educate poor children, to fund the program.
The district typically uses Title I funds for such things as summer programs, reduced class-size initiatives, and employee training.
Now, Ackerman said, "we're going to have to go back and take from some of those things to pay for kindergarten."
Ackerman said the deal on using the federal funds for kindergarten came together quickly, and was possible only this week, once the School Reform Commission officially passed a budget.
The superintendent had not raised the possibility of using Title I money for kindergarten to Nutter or City Council, officials said.
After raising the option with her staff on Thursday afternoon, Ackerman made a call to state Department of Education officials Friday morning and was given the all-clear by the afternoon. A waiver is forthcoming to affirm that the district is properly using the Title I money.
Ackerman said it was imperative to her to figure this out by Monday, the day when layoff notices will go out.
"Doomsday for me was June 6," she said.
Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said Friday night that he had been informed 2,229 of his members will receive layoff notices. Of those, 1,498 are teachers.
Friday's move saves 174 kindergarten teacher jobs and is also a victory for parents, who boarded buses to lobby legislators, signed petitions, made phone calls, and organized rallies to stave off the cut.
Many were jubilant at the news.
Parent Cindy Clark has a son beginning kindergarten at Meredith Elementary in the fall.
"I had no idea what I was going to do" if the program wasn't saved, said Clark, who helped organize parents to save kindergarten. "This is great news."
City Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, chair of the education committee, said the arrangement was "an example of good minds working together."
Despite the news, Nutter said the district still needs money and he plans to continue working to raise the cash.
A hearing is scheduled on Friday for two proposals the administration introduced this week - one to raise property taxes 10 percent and another to create a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks.
The district's announcement, Nutter said, doesn't "have any material impact on the need for hearings and, more importantly, the need for money. I think the issue there is the need is still great. Dollars are still needed."
Nutter underscored that moving around Title I money creates new holes in school programs.
"Those Title I dollars are presently being used for something and now are going to be diverted to pay for full-day kindergarten and we have to find out what the proposed cuts are . . . and what programs will not be funded," the mayor said.
He also said the administration would be "putting forward accountability measures" next week to create a closer working relationship with the schools and ensure city money was spent on agreed-upon priorities.
The administration plans to propose that the school district do strict multiyear planning that links revenue to spending.
Councilman Bill Green, who had blasted the district for putting full-day kindergarten and transportation cuts on the table in the first place, said he was pleased the district listened to Council, parents, and activists who beseeched officials not to cut kindergarten.
But he diverged with Nutter on the need to keep a tax hike on the table.
"This has ended the need to raise taxes," Green said. "This is not even a justification to raise taxes now. It really is disappointing that the mayor's knee-jerk reaction was to increase taxes rather than try to have our partners first give us a responsible budget."
New money could affect the number of layoffs, but district officials are moving forward with plans to issue notices to thousands of employees on Monday.