Call it the Ed-Eye Express, a high-speed rail car that almost rumbled its way from Harrisburg to Philadelphia last week. The kink in its schedule should not be seen as a problem.
The train was being run by Gov. Rendell's office, which wants to recreate the old position of managing director for Philadelphia schools and put state budget secretary Michael Masch in it.
There's a problem with that, and it isn't Masch. He has been an accomplished state budget secretary and was an accomplished city budget chief for then-Mayor Rendell from 1992 to 1996.
His experience as a former member of the Philadelphia school board and School Reform Commission make him particularly well-qualified to join the city's schools in a top financial capacity.
The problem is how the governor's office is trying to push through such a big change with barely a peep of public discussion and with too little regard for the ongoing search to find a successor to former district CEO Paul Vallas.
Political agendas and personalities are doubtless intertwined with good reasons for the rush. But luring a talented leader to a large, urban school district is tough enough.
The district's recent financial troubles and political dust-ups will prompt some potential applicants to pause before putting their names in contention. They might walk away if the governor puts his handpicked choice into a position that would have so much power over finances and operations.
Someone smart enough to be an excellent schools leader could look at a Masch appointment two ways: The politically pragmatic view would be to see the move as a dilution of the CEO's authority. The financially prudent view may be to rejoice that someone in the central office has a close and trusting relationship with Rendell and other key state leaders.
Masch knows the intricacies of budgeting for large public bureaucracies. He may well be the guy to ensure that the district spends within its means now that the city and state have said they would close the remaining $20 million deficit in the district's $2.18 billion budget.
The legislature definitely won't give more school funding to Philadelphia if the district doesn't manage its money better.
Those are impressive pluses for making Masch a top school official. But they don't excuse upending the CEO search. They don't erase the need for the SRC to have public discussions - that include prospective mayor Michael Nutter - on whether and how to shape the managing director slot.
(If the post is reestablished, that person should report to the CEO and not to the commission. Only the chief should report to the SRC to ensure a clear line of authority.)
Rendell's office needs to slow down and allow all this to be discussed in public and, if time permits, wait for a new CEO to be named. If that leader is smart, he'll want Masch to head the district's finances and operations.