T/E School Board’s Special Meeting on June 1 includes Amended TENIG Agreement . . . No Custodial Outsourcing but What about the $800K Proposed Savings?

The TESD 2011-12 budget process started in late 2010 and has included multiple budget, finance and school board meetings and updates to the public.  The school board and administration have worked to present a timeline of budget information and to keep us informed on budget strategies.  Hearing the ‘shared sacrifice’ appeal from the Board to the Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association (TEEA) teachers union, both sides were able to come to an agreement for the 2011-12 school year, which included a salary wage freeze.  The process was tedious and both TESD and TEEA appeared satisfied with the results.  

Throughout the budget process, the administration and Board supported TESD’s educational standard as its focus and priority.  Any budget strategies requiring cuts to educational programming was only with much discussion.  One such expense reduction decision was the budget strategy that included eliminating Latin and German in the middle school . . . a difficult decision, but one that was required to help bridge the budget deficit.  Generally, I have observed willingness on the Board’s part to fully disseminate the budget information and to keep the budget process as transparent as possible.  It is for that very reason that I find this week’s special board meeting and the notification of agenda items (or lack of notification) somewhat troubling.

I received email notification last week of TESD’s upcoming special board meeting on Wednesday, June 1 at 5:30 PM.  The stated purpose of the meeting is to approve the Conestoga High School graduating Class of 2011.  There was no mention of any other agenda items at the meeting – and I probably would not have bothered to check further except that a township resident alerted me. In review, the June 1 agenda includes a “proposal to amend the TENIG collective bargaining agreement”. Contained in the agenda materials is the proposed amended TENIG agreement and schedule of wages, effective 4/29/11 – 6/30/14.  (Click Here for meeting agenda, see pgs. 5-7 for TENIG agreement and schedule of wages).

I will discuss the contents of the TENIG agreement and wages later in this post, but first I will address TESD process as it relates to the outsourcing of custodial services.  For months, there has been discussion at the budget, finance and regular school board meetings about the possibility of outsourcing of custodial services as a budget strategy option.  At each meeting where details of the budget were presented, there was always a slide indicating the possible savings of $800K for custodial outsourcing. To quantify the District savings, the administration sent out a RFP for custodial outsourcing earlier in the year.  According to the School Board Meeting Minutes of 3/21/11, “. . . the results of bidding on outsourcing custodial services will be available on April 4 and will be provided to TENIG for review.  The committee will evaluate the bid results as an option to balance the budget”.

The School Board Meeting Minutes of 4/25/11 further reflected that “. . . The District is in the process of analyzing bid results for the outsourcing of custodial staff. These bid results have been shared with TENIG, and we continue discussions with TENIG on alternatives to outsourcing. . . “

At the May 9 School Board Meeting, the 2011-12 Final Budget was presented; (Click Here for Final Budget) Page 15 shows the following:

*Remaining Budget Shortfall ($2,183,448)
Options to Close Shortfall:
1. Outsourcing Custodial Services: $800,000
2. Pay Increase Waiver TENIG only: $300,000
3. Additional Budget Strategies $0
4. Use of Fund Balance $2,183,448
(Tentative for Proposed Final Budget on May 9th)
*Includes TEEA Proposal of 50% Pay Increase Waiver of May 6th 

Contained in the proposed final budget is the salary freeze offer from the teachers union, TEEA. There was no mention in the budget presentation of the status of the custodial services outsourcing or of TENIG’s contract. 

After the meeting, I mentioned to a couple of Board members that I was surprised that custodial outsourcing was not on the agenda nor was there any mention made of the results of the bids for the outsourcing; but received no response.  There was indication in the final budget (see above chart) that one of the few options remaining to close the shortfall was outsourcing of custodial services —  an expected savings of $800K.  How many outsource bids were received?  What were the offers?  How did the custodial outsourcing bids stack up against TENIG’s contract for custodial services? 

Following the May 9 school board meeting, the TESD released a press release summarizing the proposed final budget:

http://www.tesd.net/2127101028153743227/lib/2127101028153743227/11may9.pdf

Highlights of the proposed 2011-12 proposed final budget includes:
(1) Property tax increase of 3.77%, which equates to an average increase of $171 to T/E homeowners;
(2) $3.85 million in expense reductions and revenue increases;
(3) And $2.25 million in fund balance contribution to address the $8.9 million budget gap between revenues and expenditures.

The press release further explained that the proposed final budget includes the offer from the T/E instructional collective bargaining unit (TEEA).  As was the case at the TESD Board Meeting, the summary does not (1) address the projected savings resulting from outsourcing custodial services ($800K) or (2) pay increase waiver from non-instructional collective bargaining unit, TENIG ($300K).  According to the May 9 School Board Meeting Minutes these are the only remaining options to close the budget shortfall

What I find fascinating in the May 9 press release is the statement that the Board is “still evaluating other options to close the budget shortfall and will present the final budget on June 13”. 

We now fast forward to tomorrow’s special board meeting and find that negotiations between TESD and TENIG have apparently already taken place and there is now a proposal for an amended TENIG agreement.

Questions:  What happened with the custodial outsourcing bid process?  What were the results of the bids?  Why did the notification for tomorrow’s special board meeting not include any mention of the TENIG amended agreement proposal? 

The custodial services outsourcing process began correctly but somehow the Board lost the transparency in the process and now we are left with the end product – the amended TENG contract.  Although the Board continued to say meeting after meeting that there were looking at the final remaining budget savings options, we skip over the $800K option to outsource custodial services without explanation.  To be fair, it is entirely possible that after reviewing the bids for outsourcing, the Board decided for any number of reasons (cost, student security, etc.) that they wanted to keep the custodial service ‘as is’ and covered by TENIG. These reasons could be valid – but why not let the public know why and how that decision was made?

Now we if look at the amended TENIG agreement; I have received several questions and concerns from taxpayers on this matter.  Yes, TENIG has agreed to a salary freeze for 2011-12 year and I think that savings may be $300K.  However, there are two additional years to the TENIG contract with increases of 4.5% each year.  Was there any attempt by the Board to negotiate those increases?  Is it possible that the District is (1) losing the cost savings of outsourcing custodial services and (2) additionally giving a pay increase to custodial staff? 

The Board has been so diligent in their budget review process when cutting educational programs and increasing student fees (increased student parking fees and driver’s education training), I am surprised that non-education wages of TENIG are increased.

In closing, I have a couple of problems: (1) where was the transparency in the outsourcing process, and (2) understanding there remains a $2+ million budget shortfall in TESD, how can the Board rationalize an increase in TENIG wages in 2012 and 13 when the District has been forced to cut educational programming and increase fees.

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  1. From The Suburban today (“T/E posts budget tax increase”):

    “The district’s teachers union has also accepted a wage freeze for the first six months of the 2011-12 budget year. After that, their salaries will increase to the contracted 2011-12 wage levels. This will result in an estimated $917,000 in savings for the district, officials say.”

    Thanks for providing a great forum, Pattye!

  2. Keep hearing talk about “Salary Freeze”, which I don’t think goes far enough. Never hear anything about how much they are NOT paying into there “Health Insurance” and I sure that is a BIG number.

    1. Actually Version, it is a salary waiver and they are giving up 1/2 of their negotiated raise for the district. But, I guess that is not good enough for you.

      1. That would be a pay raise, not the cost of there benefits.
        And there is not need for that kind of talk on this site. You have your opinion and I have mine. So please just let it go at that!!

      2. They are giving up ZERO of their raise. They will not draw all the compensation, but their salary will be the new one…. They are delaying it for one semester, but setting a new bar. That’s what I mean by not even knowing what they are doing……and still defending it.

        1. This was after our board rejected the initial freeze offer. Where is the frustration with our elected officials? Or, is it only public employees that should draw our ire?

  3. Can anyone explain why TE Middle School, where my daughter is a student, has no air conditioning except in a select few rooms while the administrators, I presume, sit comfortably in their multi-million dollar building? Wouldn’t it have made sense to first ensure that our children are safe on hot days like this? My daughter says it must have been over 90 degrees in the building today.

    1. None of the elementary schools are a/c either. The board did a $10M bond last year. Presumably it was destined to deal with air issues, but we cannot prepare our schools of yesterday for weather that comes out of the blue. My car has A/C and it wasn’t keeping cool today either. We skipped spring. But here’s something you should remember: We are talking about cutting programs. We are giving employees 4% raises. We couldn’t afford to turn the AC on if we had it.
      Not having it, by the way, is a much more complicated issue than money. When Conestoga was renovated in 2001, putting a/c there in a $30M renovation was only approved by a 5-4 vote. “We didn’t have air when I went there….” is a familiar refrain.” And the system at CHS is less than state of the art, but there wasn’t voting support on the board at the time to spend the extra $4M to upgrade the air we did put in. Teachers are in the same room as the kids. They will survive. And of course the admins have a/c. They are in a commercial building. It has NOTHING to do with the kids.

        1. Putting A/C in the elementary schools was studied & reviewed (Faciliites May 2008)..they collected data during 2007 and the fall of 2008. I can’t remember the actual cost ..it wasn’t cheap… Oct 15 2010..the “District is not in a financial positon to fund any A/C projects at this time”

      1. “You wrote: “we cannot prepare our schools of yesterday for weather that comes out of the blue”.

        What part of temperatures in May, June and September in the 90s is “out of the blue”? Philadelphia’s record highs for every single day in those three months is in the 90s or 100s. (See: http://www.stormfax.com/phlminmax2.html). There is nothing “out of the blue” about it. It happens nearly every year, and if they can afford to put in A/C for the overstaffed administration building, they sure as heck can afford to do it for the kids. The administrators can work from home if it’s too hot to come into their building. The students can’t.

        You also wrote: “We couldn’t afford to turn the AC on if we had it.” and “And of course the admins have a/c. They are in a commercial building. It has NOTHING to do with the kids.”

        So did the administrators leave it off these past few days to save money? If we can’t afford to turn it on for the kids, why should we turn it on for the administrators? “It has NOTHING to do with” fairness if we can’t afford to put it on for students but the administrators work there in comfort.

        Also, I would suggest you get your car’s A/C checked out. It shouldn’t not work on a 95 degree day. :->

        1. Different TEMS Parent,

          I was on the board from 1999-2007, and during that time we added wings of classrooms to all of our schools to accomodate enrollment growth and (to some degree) smaller class sizes. All new construction was air conditioned. That makes sense.

          As for retrofitting the existing school buildings with AC, that was NEVER on the table. The cost of installing AC to old buildings that were not constructed with that in mind is extremely high. Even back when the school district had full taxing authority, it was never considered affordable or politically feasible. There were a lot of pressing issues during those years, and there was not a lot of people pushing for AC in the schools. To the contrary –

          In fact, the board got a lot of complaints from taxpayers about installing any AC, even in new construction. Why is that necessary? We never had it when we were kids! It’s only hot a few days at the end of the school year! (and so on – these were arguments we heard).

          Now, fast forward to today – Act 1 of 2006 took away the board’s full taxing authority and limited future tax increases to an inflation cap set by the state. There are certain exceptions, but AC installation is not one of them. To take on a project as big as retrofitting the older school building with AC today would probably involve tax increases far in excess of the Act 1 inflation cap. That means putting the issue to a voter referendum. (Unless you wanted to seriously deplete the fund balance, which would be very foolish right now). So, a referendum – what does that really mean?

          In today’s ecomonic climate and after Act 1, you would have a very difficult time getting yourself elected to the school board on a platform of air conditioning all schools. Even if you got elected, you would need at least five votes on the board to put the issue on the ballot referendum. I frankly doubt you can get them in today’s circumstances, because it is “political suicide” to do that. What’s the point, if all it means is the board turns over in the next election to anti-tax candidates who run on a platform of scrapping the project?

          Even if you get that issue on the ballot, I think it is very unlikely to pass, because taxpayers with kids in the schools are a minority – it is often said that 80% of the local citizens do not have kids in the public schools. I think that figure is still correct, but suppose it is only 60-70%? I don’t think you re going to get any extra tax increases approved in a referendum.

          Just telling it like it is – not saying I like it any more than you do.

        2. Parent
          I don’t have the background of this full discussion, but allow me to update you on the history. I was on the board and chaired facilities through the elementary renovations, the middle school renovations, and the high school renovation. I cannot tell you how HARD I fought to a/c each of these buildings. No one ever came to the meetings, and no one cared. I could not get the votes to do it. The costs was exhorbitant because the buildings were built in the 50s and 60s. I pretty much fell on a sword to get a/c at the high school, and it’s a 2-pipe system, not a four-pipe system, so it’s not exactly modern by the standards of 2000 when we did the construction.
          Parents have to invest time in their kids education, not just hope that they can vote for someone who knocks on their door and promises a good education at a fair price. We had a huge group of parents asking for a pool at the time of the Stoga renovation, and some board members voted down air conditioning because they would rather put the money towards a pool….which of course never happened. I made the case for Conestoga based on the fact that we have 200 employees and 2000 kids and they carry their books. And yet as recently as the primary election day, I heard an elderly resident in the district say that we didn’t air condition the schools when THEIR kids went, and it’s a silly waste of money.
          You cannot ignore the comments of people like Ray Clarke (post below) begging the district to reduce the tax burden, and still ask why schools are not air conditioned. It’s all part of a master plan. Many areas in the middle and elementary schools do have air conditioning, as costs dictated the outcomes, and it wasn’t possible to a/c them all. VFMS was possible, but TEMS wasn’t really, and “it wouldn’t be fair to have one a/c middle school and not the other.”

          So regardless of your impressions about the administrative offices having a/c, the district bought that building from a corporate center. It is obviously air conditioned. The district BUILT the schools, and about the only way to truly cool the elementary buildings would be to do what Upper Merion did with Roberts Elementary. Shut it down, put kids elsewhere, and build a new one. I apologize to you that I wasn’t more successful in convincing fellow board members in the 90s that air conditioning was part of a modern building, and not a luxury as it was in the 60s. The administration certainly doesn’t want un-airconditioned facilities. They work where they are told to work. I think if you look around, you will see that most governmental entities are pennywise and pound foolish in the end. On another link, someone is talking about how PENN DOT put in traffic information signs, but don’t have money to widen major roads. The only thing that makes a difference is votes and voices. Not one at a time — and asking candidates what they believe and what they can support, and making sure they aren’t reading from a script. And then finding out if (in the case of the school board) 4 other board members agree with them.
          Email doesn’t convey tone, but you are no less exasperated than I was when I was chairing these meetings. I left the board because I was tired of politics trumping practicality. And it’s WAY worse now. Someone in the facilities minutes there are studies about what it would cost to do the A/C. CHV above says there is no plan to do it. So I cannot say much except that you cannot wait until a 95 degree day in May to complain about school temperatures. It’s about revitalization of our buildings, in a timely fashion. We did as much as we could afford (and get votes for) in the 90s. That’s 20 years now. I went to HIllside and Valley Forge the years they opened, and I’m in my 50s….time marches one. Doing what’s right is NOT always possible. But as that elderly woman said to me at the polls — we did attend these schools in the 50s and 60s and 70s and 80s……without any a/c. Sometimes we are worried about the wrong things. Do we want our own custodians who we know and trust, at additional cost? Or do we want state of the art buildings? Or do we want to continue to support one of the lowest tax rates in the state on our property? Ray Clarke says we cannot afford a higher tax rate. The money has to come from SOMEWHERE.

          The dialogue is good. Just go to meetings and run for the board and make brave choices and get the votes. It’s that simple ? :)

        3. By the way, Andrea’s comment on this topic is excellent. I personally regret not voting for the four-pipe system for Conestoga.

          I don’t know that I ever saw a real tight estimate of cost for AC retrofits, but I heard some rough figures discussed some where along the line, and my recollection is that each elementary would cost at least two million, and the other schools would be more – perhaps twice as much – total cost for all buildings would be well over 20 million. Maybe more. That would sound bout right given what it cost to AC the Consetoga renovation. Maybe Andrea has better figures, having run Facilities, but maybe not, since we never got anywhere near seriously looking at it. Anyway, as I said, it is a moot point now.

        4. Well, now actually speaking for myself, I would say that if the capital and operating costs of air conditioning the additional schools spread over the lifetime of the equipment amounted to as material an increase in the tax burden as the experts here suggest that it would, I would be against it. The benefit gained in a very few days of the school year would not be worth the cost. Does it really make sense to engineer for extremes? Doing so contributes to the energy pickle we now find ourselves in. Maybe less air conditioning creates less NEED for air conditioning?

          And as for the administration, correct me if I’m wrong, but they have to work during the second half of June, July and August. That would change the equation. And I certainly expect them to be performing at peak efficiency, working 24/7/365 to figure out how to continue to deliver the education value for which I moved here in the first place.

          And let’s all remember that tax burden = tax rate times assessed value. Really…

  4. School District to Residents:
    (channeling Cee Lo Green)

    “Forget You!!”

    (literally and figuratively)

    Thanks, Pattye, for being awake on the watch. Let’s leave aside for a moment the analysis of the deal, but just wonder: what were they thinking? Was the Board even aware of the Agenda of the usually routine meeting to approve the graduating class? Why on earth send around our regular weekly update with nary a mention of tomorrow’s agenda being unusual and subject of much controversy over the past months? Is there something to hide?

    Well, maybe not. The TENIG amendment represents not only a one year deferral of a contracted increase, but also a real sustainable savings of one year of the contracted increases that will now not occur. (Contrast the TEEA amendment).

    In return, no outsourcing – this year. A deal many residents would likely support. But thereafter the opportunity remains, in the light of the built-in 9.2% cumulative increase you discuss. I think that TENIG members need to be taking a hard look at the salaries, benefits and pension compared to the market. No longer are the unions a politically-protected provider to a monopoly provider of education. TESD has to stay competitive is all respects: education quality, input costs and tax burden.

    So I’m going to repeat my call for the Board, in its final budget, to limit the increase in tax burden on those they represent. TESD’s proposed 3.8% tax increase is way out of line with its peers and with the decline in incomes and property values in the district.

    1. That’s not going to happen Ray. Though I have seen an occasionally flying pig.
      4.5% increases for TENIG and 5% increases for the teachers on the horizon….the tax increase should be higher if we were paying the bills, but it’s limited to the 3.77%. WOn’t be long before the incumbents are putting out political statements about how successful their negotiations were!

      1. Successful in addressing (minimally) a problem they created! Oh well. Those incumbents do need to be re-elected by those they asking to bear the burden, though.

        1. Ooops, poor phrasing. It was the incumbents’ need to which I was referring, not necessarily the taxpayers’.

          At yesterday’s meeting I did hear Rich Brake put the question of the tax increase on the table. We’ll see where that goes.

          The Board is staking out a very strong position advocating the ability to furlough for economic reasons.

          The reasons for accepting the TENIG offer for 2011/12 look sound to me. Half the custodial outsourcing savings (apparently estimates were validated by the RFP results) will come from the elimination of the salary increase in 2011/12 (all TENIG, not just custodians…) and work scheduling, and TENIG has made a commitment for ongoing collaboration to reduce costs. Something to keep an eye on.

  5. Yes, the $2+ milion shortfall assumes the 3.77 % tax increase. I am guessing that the shortfall will come down by $300K if that is what will be saved by TENIG no wage increase amendment for 2011-12. There was a possibility of a $800K drop in shortfall with custodial outsourcing but the proposed amendment to the TENIG agreement takes that option strategy off the table. I believe that all education cuts have been recogonized in this final budget, so . . . the remaining gap will come from the reserve fund.

  6. Wow — tredyffrin parent drank the koolaid. Likewise the statement in the paper — a $917,000 savings — it’s like when you check out of the Acme and you spend $200 and they tell you you saved $75. Except the press release doesn’t talk about the amount of the increase, only about the amount of the savings…..which means a reduction in the increase.

    TENIG was scheduled to get 4.5% in each year of this contract. They did the one year waiver thing — and they are getting 4.5% in year 3 and year 4, foregoing the 4.5 % number they would have reached. So again, someone somewhere is celebrating the savings (but sneaking it in — with no mention of the topic unless you click on the agenda). The meeting is at 5:30 on a Wednesday. Right out there for the public to miss.

    Now that the “gyrations” of this budget season are through, let’s see what we have learned:

    Despite having serious leverage with threats of furloughs and layoffs, our TE Board is feeling triumphant that they got a one year delay in 4.5% increases for people who work hard for us, but accrus 2.5% toward a pension every year they work. If they work 25 hours or more a week, they get full benefits (except some bus drivers who still remain on our payroll). So appparently they traded the option to furlough/lay off to the teachers and to TENIG for incredibly insignificant savings. Why do I say insignificant? Because they are STILL using $2.25M from fund balance. Now, there is NOTHING wrong with using a rainy day fund for one-time or unusual expenses, but we are using a savings account to pay the electric bills. What does that mean in the long run? That we start next year $2.25 M in the hole — that our expenses are lagging revenues. And given the post elsewhere about assessment appeals (I too got a letter from a local firm offering to represent me for free to reduce my taxes up to 25%), our revenues for next year are basically betting that sales will pick up. They better, because we are spending money we don’t have.

    Giving up 1/2 of their negotiated raise sounds awesome, if this was a short-term problem. But it’s not. 1/2 their negotiated raise means they don’t get the 4.5% increase ON the schedule, but they do MOVE down the schedule and get at least that raise. There are some 20% increases in the middle of the range for the next step.

    But let’s all celebrate and re-elect the incumbents and say what a great job they are doing representing us. After all, they had made a mess of things, and now they swept up a little.

    Pattye is right. WHERE is the transparency? The big talk this year has been that there will be a wage freeze in the NEXT teacher contract. Well — that half year move to the final year salaries already moved the bar up about 5%, and how do you get a wage freeze for the TEEA when you have given TENIG 4.5% for the next two years (after the freeze for this year?)

    Someone better be bringing lots of paddles, because folks, this board is leading us up the proverbial creek. And they know most of us are either too dumb to really understand, or too busy to care.

    NO change referenced in health care benefits…….so the TENIG contract still goes for 3 more years….maybe the economy will be better by then. Hope so.

    One last comment: the custodians $800K might have been fake once the bids came in. Someone should definitely ask — an RTK request for the RFPs would work.

    1. Thank you “Give it a Rest” for spelling it all out. While I was trying to keep up with what the Board was doing, I could not help but think that I was missing something. As I was reading your blog it came to me. As much as I want to see the teachers in T/E paid well, it just feels like they did not sacrifice too much. Not has much as the children and the parent’s pocketbooks are going too. The whole thing is just totally out of balance. Yet folks feel it is fine. Just don’t get it!!!!!

      1. Actually, each teacher and now TENIG member will each give up more money towards this then the average increase to the T/E taxpayer.

        As an example, If you figure an employee making $50,000 was going to get a 4% raise. They were going to get a $2000 raise next year. if you are in TENIG, you giving up $2000, if you are in TEEA you are giving up $1000.

        The average increase for next year for a T/E taxpayer was around $150 more.

        So to say the Teachers aren’t giving anything up is really quite rude in my opinion. These people put our students in amazing positions to be successful in life. They put TESD on the map and increase the home values. They do hours of work at home grading papers, making lesson plans and working to make our kids as good as they can be. Don’t forget that they pay school taxes too where they live… they understand… and if they live outside of TESD they know how good of a deal TESD tax payers are getting.

        1. Each employee that “gave up” something also accrues another 2.5% toward their pension for this year. So if that 50,000 employee only went to 51,000 (actually they go to $52,000, but don’t go there for half a year…the base salary goes up the full amount for TEEA), then their pension would increase anyway. In the four years of this salary contract, there is NO MENTION of the fact that they will earn 10% more toward their pension. So that $50K teacher once retired will get $5,000 a year for working these four years…adding to whatever other years they work.
          This ISN’T about what’s “fair” anymore. It’s about what’s affordable and what’s right.
          Status Quo has no place in modern life. It is that simple.

  7. Pattye,

    As a reporter I suggest you become familiar with the Right to Know Law. You can ask to see or to make copies of the following:

    – the RFP,
    – the resultant bids
    – all documents distributed to a quorum of the board relating to outsourcing
    – emails to a quorum of the board relating to outsourcing

    I believe they are all public documents. If you need help refer to the PA Freedom of Information Coalition at http://www.openrecordspa.org/

    Here is their forum where you can ask questions and get answers from someone very knowledgeable about the Right to Know Law. http://www.pafoic.org/forum/YaBB.pl

    They encourage citizens to demand transparency from their local government.

  8. Art McDonnell will likely tell you he has to redact certain portions of any email for personnel comments. In my experience they charged me for anything that was not digital, so ask for electronic copies, not paper copies.

  9. I really appreciate the background info and history that people like Kevin Grewell and Andrea provide to these discussions.

    Opinions are always interesting to read, but it’s also important to understand what factors & realities were in play when decisions were made – and to have them presented by the people who were directly involved.

  10. Thank you as well. I appreciate the thoughtful response.
    I used to say that the people with “all the answers” rarely had “all the information.” I need to remember that, as the board has far more input on their decisions than those of us watching and reading can possibly consider. I may not always agree with them, and I feel strongly that politics nowadays wreak havoc with practical decisions, but the public needs to stay engaged and not just take a peek when the topic is of interest. Takes a village to educate children too.

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