1/28/13 TESD Consent Agenda Item — Approval for Administrator Bonuses & Compensation Plan

Included for priority discussion at Monday’s TESD meeting is the reconsideration of a District Safety Consultant and the hiring of Andy Chambers for the position.  The hiring of Chambers was previously included in the January 7 TESD meeting on the consent agenda but was not originally listed on the meeting agenda. Without proper notice on an agenda, the public is deprived of its right to be present and to know when decisions affecting the public are being made.

Yesterday, I received an anonymous email suggesting that I review the consent agenda for the January 28 meeting, specifically section C – Personnel. Admittedly, when I reviewed the agenda for the upcoming TESD meeting, my attention was to the safety consultant matter, overlooking this significant item.  Included on tomorrow’s consent agenda is the following:

C.  Personnel
1.  Routine Personnel Actions
The Board will take action on routine resignations, releases, retirements, leaves, and
appointments. The Board will also take action to record the names of volunteers who
have served in the schools in recent weeks.
2.  Supervisory and Confidential Employee Compensation Plan, Compensation
Adjustments for 2013 – 2014 and January 2013 One Time Bonuses
3.  Administrator Compensation Plan, Compensation Adjustments and January 2013 One
Time Bonuses
4.  Contracted Services

The description of ‘consent agenda’ on the January 28 TESD School Board agenda states, “Although Board action is required, it is generally unnecessary to hold discussion on these items. With the consent of all members, they are therefore grouped and approval is given in one motion.”

The purpose of a consent agenda is to group routine, noncontroversial items together to be voted on under one motion.  Items on the consent agenda should be routine items that board members don’t need any further information on prior to voting. The purpose of a consent agenda should not be used to hide important issues or stifle discussion.

Who is reviewing the TESD meeting agendas? For the January 7 TESD meeting, there was no mention made of anything related to ‘safety’ listed on the agenda, yet the hiring of Andy Chambers as the District Safety Consultant is added last-minute to the consent agenda.  Now a couple of weeks later at the next Board meeting, we have administrator compensation and bonuses listed as routine consent agenda items.  Again, … who is reviewing these meeting agendas?

Of the 141-page agenda, 40 pages are devoted to the compensation plan for supervisory and confidential employees and administrators and their one-time January 2013 bonuses.  To include the approval of non-bargaining administrator salaries, benefits and their bonuses in a consent agenda can hardly be considered ‘routine’!

The Sunshine Act, no more than the discussion to outsource the custodians or aides as a cost-savings budget strategy, does not protect the discussion of administrator compensation and bonuses. The School Board and Finance Committee meetings have repeatedly discussed various budget strategies including increasing class size, student activities fees, possible further cuts to educational programming and recently the decision to review non-profits’ use of real property for qualified tax exempt status.

To my knowledge (someone please correct me if I’m wrong), there has never been any public discussion of a (1) supervisory and confidential employee compensation plan, (2) compensation adjustment for 2013-14 or (3) one-time January 2013 bonuses.  So now, the matter just appears on the consent agenda for approval.  How is this possible?

In a review of ‘Compensation Plan for Supervisory and Confidential Employees” (pgs. 61-77), I read the following:

January 2013 – July 1, 2013 a one-time bonus will be awarded to each employee based upon the Superintendent’s recommendation. On July 1, 2013 adjustment to base for selected employees shall be recommended by the Superintendent.

July 1, 2014 – July 1, 2016:
For each of the academic years beginning July 1, 2014 and through to June 30, 2016, 1.7% of the total salaries of this group, from the prior year, will be available in a pool for the Superintendent to distribute, at his discretion and with Board approval, as base salary increases. Specific percentage increases will vary among members of the group. In June of each year, beginning in June 2014, a 1% one-time bonus will be awarded each individual for the previous year’s service.

Individual Salary/Compensation Changes:
1. Individual may receive an increase to his/her base salary
2. Individual may receive bonus (merit) adjustment which is not added to base salary, but paid throughout the current school year or paid in the form of a lump sum
3. Combination of the above

The Act 93 Agreement, the ‘Administrator Compensation Plan’, January 29, 2013 through June 30, 2017 (pgs. 78-101) contains the following:

January 2013-June 2017
In January 2013, each administrator shall receive a one time bonus for service in the previous two and half years as approved by the Board at its January 28, 2013 regular meeting. In addition, adjustments to base salary for the previous two and a half years will be approved by the Board at its January 28, 2013 regular meeting.

For each of the academic years beginning July 1, 2013 and through to June 30, 2017, 1.7% of the total salaries of this group, from the prior year, will be available in a pool for the Superintendent to distribute, at his discretion and with Board approval, as base salary increases; specific percentage increase will vary for any one individual.

Beginning in June 2014, and continuing annually in June of each year, a one time bonus of 1% of the individual’s salary will be awarded to each administrator for service in the previous year.

The Board may not have had any questions about the compensation plan and the bonuses, but I do —

  1. When did the School Board discuss the compensation plan and bonuses, or are they seeing this for the first time as a consent agenda item?
  2. Where was the public discussion about the administrator compensation plan?
  3. Where was the public discussion about supervisory and confidential employees receiving a one-time bonus? And it’s to be paid this month!
  4. What is the value of the one-time bonus? A percentage of salary or a set dollar amount (similar to the teachers $2500 bonus)
  5. How is the bonus calculated?
  6. What is the budget impact of the increased compensation?
  7. What is the value of the one-time bonus?
  8. Where is the money for the increased compensation and bonuses coming from?  (Is this how the District is using the $3.9 million surplus from 2011/12 that was announced in November 2012)
  9. What does the ‘adjustments to the base salary for the last 2-1/2 years’ mean?  Is the salary increase to the administrators retroactive?
  10. The financial distribution to administrators is at the discretion of Dan Waters?

How is it that something so important as this compensation and bonus plan can just get thrown in on a consent agenda without discussion? Bottom line …   where is the fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency to the public?

33 Comments

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  1. One time bonuses are not in the base salary, and therefore are not subject to PSERS withholding nor do they add to the employee’s pension eligibility.
    This can all have been discussed in private as a matter of “personnel” issues — but I have to agree that throwing it into the consent agenda is a dodge. The business manager should be making a presentation on the overall cost to the district. They no doubt made a presentation to the board to get these numbers to work with.
    Longevity bonuses are, imho, iffy. Each employee adds 2.5% of their 3 highest years average salary to their pension for each year worked. So for each $100,000 employee, every year in the job adds $2500 to their annual pension. Try finding an investment that will produce 2.5% annually….
    But before we worry, I think the board should make a presentation. These are market driven salaries, and every administrator specifically can return to the bargaining unit as a teacher, so the differential needs to be real. There is a significant time commitment difference for administrators.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thanks for your comment — Question, when does the “board make a presentation”? Seems to me it should have been in the ‘Priority’ discussion category with the District Safety Consultant/Andy Chambers not in the consent agenda category. If the administrator compensation plan/bonus item was available for priority discussion, I would be OK but … by ‘adding on’ to the consent agenda it has the appearance of the Board ‘rubber stamping’ don’t you think? Do you have any guess what this one-time bonus dollar amount per administrator is? And for the record, I am not opposed to the administrators receiving a salary increase or a bonus for that matter. If the administrators deserve an increase and/or bonus, that’s fine — I’m just asking for transparency on behalf of the public.

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  2. Is this some kind of a joke. Do you have any idea how much some of these people make and now they get a bonus and pay increase. I’d like to know how Burak et al rationalize a tax increase to the citizens while approving a bonus and salary increase to the staff. This behind the scenes dealing was going on all the while the teachers were getting dupped.

    [Reply]

  3. I second “Are you kidding.” For the leadership at TE to use the “story” that administrators have not had raises in the last few years as rationale for the teachers to FREEZE their matrix for two years and take furlough days in the second is a joke.

    A few questions…

    1 – Do the teachers get back their half-year salary freeze from the last year of their former contract?

    2 – Why are the teachers paying a larger percentage of their benefits then the administrators? Shouldn’t they LEAD by example?

    3 – There is never any money but somehow millions are left over every year – how much of that money is being used for these consent agenda plans?

    4 – There are so many options for how the administrators can get raises (left to the discretion of the superintendent) will the public ever find out how these go down?

    5 – Interestingly, the budget forecast that goes years out has salaries for all employees staying the same. What happen with the administrators?

    6 – Where’s the accountablility with the new “vanilla” information? Or, is it just a ruse to cover-up ever increasing administrative salaries?

    7 – Is it any wonder district staff have no confidence in the current leadership?

    8 – Does TE now stand for Terrible Employer? Ask the stressed out teaching and support staff how they feel after seeing the outcome of these behind the scenes moves.

    I thank the efforts of Mr. Peterson (and Pattye) to demand more transparency. And, I echo his call for a change in leadership. Instead of breeding from within, it is time to bring someone in with a fresh viewpoint on how to motivate staff and how to conduct school business in a truly transparent fashion.

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  4. What on earth are they thinking? Indeed, are they thinking at all?

    There are good reasons to recognize and reward supervisors and administrators when their compensation has been flat for a number of (challenging) years despite double digit compounded increases to unionized staff.

    Further, a plan that allows for merit-based increases and bonuses is definitely a step in the right direction.

    But why on earth slide this into the consent agenda?

    What makes this different to other contracts that receive public discussion? On what basis can the Board vote to approve it without discussion? Have they seen a summary of the key contract changes, an analysis of the impact on the district’s finances, and the basis (percentages, $ bonuses) on which that impact is calculated?

    The Board and administration have adamantly refused to acknowledge the missing millions in 2012/13 expenses. Now we understand where some of those dollars are going: unspecified one time bonuses and retroactive (?) salary adjustments.

    I had hoped for stronger leadership from the reorganized Board.

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    PS: I saw in Sunday’s Inquirer that the PA budget secretary told the paper’s business reporter that Corbett’s Feb 5th budget address will likely “delay the increase” in the state’s “taxpayer pension fund contribution”. The context was SERS, but the associated numbers look big enough to refer to PSERS as well. Indeed, “kicking the can down the road”, Mr. Zogby.

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  5. If we’re going to bestow this much power to the position of school superintendent, we should give serious consideration to imposing term limits.

    [Reply]

  6. Pattye,
    .
    The Sunshine Act does allow discussion and deliberation of administrator compensation and bonuses in executive session.
    .
    From the Sunshine Act:
    Executive sessions may be held for information, strategy and negotiation sessions related to the negotiation or arbitration of a collective bargaining agreement or, in the absence of a collective bargaining unit, related to labor relations and arbitration.’
    .
    I note that the consent agenda has the following action item: Administrator Compensation Plan, Compensation Adjustments and January 2013 One Time Bonuses
    The Compensation Plan is available for public scrutiny as part of the meeting agenda material. However, the Compensation Adjustments and the One Time Bonuses are missing. These two missing documents would list each administrator’s compensation increase and are, of course, available to the public via a RTK request. But in light of the recent public concern with transparency, I wonder why those two documents were not included in the agenda material. Or if that is deemed to be too intrusive to be included in the agenda material, at least give an idea of the dollar magnitude of the Adjustments and One time Bonuses.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thanks Keith for clarification re Sunshine Act and discussion of compensation and bonuses. What I do not understand is how this matter could just end up thrown onto a consent agenda for approval as if it were routine meeting minutes. With all the budget related angst going on, as a taxpayer I would like to know how much money is in this ‘pot-of-gold’ and where exactly did the ‘pot-of-gold’ come from that will pay these bonuses.

    Certainly a 40 pg. document was not created overnight, so I don’t understand how it is possible that this matter was never mentioned in budget or finance committee meetings — yet then voila, the compensation plan, compensation adjustment and bonus gets dumped into a consent agenda.

    The public has absolutely no idea how much this pool of money is that Dr. Waters has discretion to distribute to administrators. The dollar amount for Waters’ distribution is not contained in the 40 pgs. — is the public to assume that the Board knows the dollar amount and the budget impact?

    I want to be clear — if the administrators are underpaid and deserve a compensation adjustment and/or bonus, that’s OK with me. What I am not OK with is the lack of details (transparency) and how such an important budgetary issue is not a priority discussion item.

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Pattye, I agree. There is no justification for burying this in the consent agenda. You bring up an interesting question, “how it is possible that this matter was never mentioned in budget or finance committee meetings?” The answer is that the board is not required to do so.
    .
    The Board has the right to negotiate all employee contracts and discuss the financial impact in executive session. No public input is required during negotiations. No documents need be distributed to the public prior to the vote. No justification need be given to the public after the vote.
    .
    All that said, the TE board was fairly transparent with the teacher negotiations. The public did see the table offers. The public did have a chance for input during negotiations. The public saw some financial implications prior to the vote.
    .
    Negotiations with the administrators tend to be less contentious. Also, the financial impact is a fraction of the teacher contract. The TE board did a good job with the teacher contract; I guessing they negotiated a fair agreement with the administrators. I think most CM participants would be satisfied with a public presentation, discussion and a non-consent agenda vote.

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    Keith,

    No TE school board member was present at the negotiating table. How can you say they did a good job? The administrators negotiated the contract. Is Unionville Chadsford allowing their administrators to negotiate your contract?

    I would like to hear you talk about why negotiations with the administrators tend to be less contentious than negotiations with the teachers union.

    The financial impact to the custodians on their salary reduction was devastating. The cost savings to the district was a drop in the bucket. Why was this meager cost saving strategy implimented when the financial gain to the district had an even smaller impact than that of a potential administrator reduction?

    We shouldn’t consider a salary reduction from administrators because the impact of administrator salaries and compensation is a fraction of the teachers? So we approve a raise for their already inflated salaries because “what the heck” it doesn’t matter anyway, because it is a fraction of the teacher contract?

    And to top it all off, there is no public discussion and it is buried in a consent agenda.

    My only bias is towards the custodians. The teachers and custodians, the students and parents have given concessions. The administrators got raises.

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Hello We,

    A number of comments:
    .
    1. The composition of the district’s negotiating team at the table is a matter of strategy. I’m sure that Sultanik’s lead role and absence of board members at the table was well thought out. My guess is that the administrators at the table were there for clarification of issues and they did not, as you say, negotiate the contract.
    .
    2. The current composition of our team is four board members and two administrators. (this was announced at the last public meeting) Depending on the circumstances it could change to no board members, a different number of administrators and a labor lawyer.
    .
    3. Negotiations with administrators are less contentious for a number of reasons. Administrators are typically more knowledgeable about the financial pressures confronting the district and what can be reasonably be offered. Natural movement of administrators from district to district makes it easier for both parties to determine a “market price”. Compensation packages go up and down depending on supply and demand.
    .
    4. You make mention of “already inflated salaries” for administrators. I don’t agree. I’d be interested in your justification for that characterization.
    .
    5. I’m not familiar with the details of TE’s settlement with the custodians, but I’ll offer this insight. Even though the salaries of custodians went down, I’ll wager their overall compensation went up. Let’s suppose a custodian’s salary is $25K per year. My guess is that benefits are in the range of $20K and increasing well above the rate of inflation. While salary might have gone down by, say, 4% to $24K; benefits (healthcare and PSERS) might have increased by 10% to $22K for an overall compensation increase of $1K.
    .
    6. The TE teachers did not make “concessions”. Their compensation did or will increase each year. Only the taxpayers made concessions in the form of higher taxes.

  7. I note the unhappy posting from Spiraling Down above. I’m speculating that he/she is a teacher and is concerned about parity amongst the 4 working groups (TEEA, TENIG, Act 93 & Supervsors/Confidential Employees). It might make sense for the Board to talk candidly about how the compensation increases are similar or if they are not similar, why.
    .
    As Spiraling Down says, the matrix is frozen for teachers, but there are hefty $2,500 bonuses in years 2 & 3 plus teachers enjoyed large step, prep and matrix increases in the prior 5 years. There is also give-back in healthcare. Did teachers get shortchanged? I don’t think so, but the question should be addressed.

    [Reply]

  8. Nice comments. The good part of CM is that views are exchanged and people learn more about the system. The bad part is that many of the readers have never given these subjects any scrutiny or consideration in the past, and assume that it’s all bad.
    The board absolutely did no one any favors by putting this topic on the consent agenda, but the discussion behind the documents has always been available. it is unortunate that spiraling thinks this is conspiratorial or unfair, but I will remind any teacher that they are part of a union that represents all members, many of whose workloads and assessments are broadly differentiated. Each administrator has an annual review with objectives and a rubric to evaluate performance. The “1.7%” pool will be doled out based on merit, performance, and market influences (retention is part of the compensation decision.).
    When the ACP is negotiated, it is in a “meet and discuss” environment where many, many factors are discussed. There is no demand bargaining.
    Again, as we discussed during the teacher talks, there are lines of people waiting for a teaching job. There is no merit in the teacher compensation. Administrators are subject to market forces and merit reviews. Jobs are not the same, and the risks/benefits shake out.

    The TESD Board owes this community that knowledge….but readers and taxpayers owe the process respect and the benefit of hearing them out. Who else should review these employees BUT the Superintendent? The board sets the fiscal limits and he works within them.

    [Reply]

  9. Thanks TE School Board for freezing my pay last year and now approving bonuses for administration. Your sense of fairness and what is right continues to amaze me. I hope you all sleep well tonight.

    [Reply]

  10. Support staff
    You too are part go a union that bargains for people where merit has no relevance. Your pay was frozen because of market forces…supply exceeds demand, and few support positions outside education have pensions and therefore pension costs. Keith posted earlier that eligibility for and cost of PSERS makes paying support staff especially complicated. Admins don’t want bonuses…they are not pensionable…and the decision to pay them is a far less difficult one…merit based and retention (demand far exceeds supply for qualified and credentialed admins).

    [Reply]

  11. US Public Schools: Growth in Students and School Personnel, 1950 to 2009

    Students – 25%
    Teachers – 252%
    Administration – 702%

    From 1992 to 2009 students numbers increased 17%, where admin staff rose 46%.

    [Reply]

    kevin Grewell Reply:

    Society has tasked the schools with doing more and more since 1950. The growth in teachers results from many factors, such as special education mandates, modern curriculum changes, and class size reduction. Likewise the growth in administrators (I am assuming for the sake of argument that your figures are correct even though you have not cited your source) results primarily from the fact that the schools are required to do more than they used to. Administration has grown over the years in order to comply with a bewildering array of state and federal mandates such as the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (“I.D.E.A”), No Child Left Behind (“N.C.L.B.) and a whole host of other laws and regulations.

    Also, percentages can be misleading when talking about administrators – who consititue a small number of people to begin with relative to the teaching staff. Adding a few administrators results in a larger “percentage” increase than adding a few teachers because the base number of teachers is much larger.

    [Reply]

    We the People aka Not so New Reply:

    I’m curious if you read the article Keith referenced. It says:

    Importantly, such growth cannot be attributed to the federal No Child Left Behind Law (NCLB). During the pre-FY 1992 to FY 2001 public schools’ student population grew 13% while public education personnel rose 29% – a 23% increase for teachers and a 37% for administrators and other staff. Post NCLB employment growth still outpaced student numbers.

    It also says:

    There is no evidence in the aggregate that the uncrease in public school staffing caused student achievement to improve.

    My source in the earlier post was The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice as was Keiths.

    [Reply]

    kevin Grewell Reply:

    I started a reply but seem to have lost it somehow in cyberspace – here goes again –

    We have to be careful to make sure we are comparing apples to apples here since the examples used in your original post encompass a time frame from 1950 through 2009, and since several kinds of staff are involved.

    The article is making a distinction between the pre- NCLB period and post NCLB. Of course the growth in personnel (whether administrative or any other kind) pre- NCLB is not attributed to that law. My point included many laws and regulations (mandates respecting curriculum come to mind), as well as the trend towards smaller class sizes and other matters. I believe that NCLB does significantly burden our teachers and administrators and does drive some of the increase since that law was passed. I am quite confident that if you drilled down with the T/E administration you would find that NCLB has had an impact on our administrative staffing. I do seem to recall one year in which the figure quoted for NCLB compliance was over $900,000. This would not all be for administrators – I believe this included the cost of administering and reporting the mandatory testing, and some of that cost would have been for administrative assets devoted to those tasks.

    However, I suspect that IDEA accounts for far more than NCLB, in both teachers and administrators. And there are a lot of other regulations which have an impact on both teachers and administrators. These include accounting and reporting regulations – both financial and academic data, as well as curriculum requirements, mandatory testing, and so on.

    Speaking strictly of administrators now, It is difficult to attribute a particular hire to a single law or regulation in every case. In many cases, it is the cummulative effect of a variety of mandates since a simgle administrator may handle a broad range of responsibilites. At some point, if you keep adding mandates, you inevitably drive the expansion of the staff. It would take a lot of work to tease out exactly how much is attributed to which law, but in general I think it stands to reason that much of the increase in administrators is driven by mandates.

    This is congruent with my experinece on the board during eight years of budget briefings – and I can assure you I heard ad nauseun how a bewildering array of federal and state regulations required the addition of staff of all kinds. There was often some reason for expanding – more than simple student enrollment growth – and it most often had to do with compliance with requirements imposed on the school district by law. No school board sits around and says “Hmmm – why don’t we hire more administrators just because it would be nice.”

    So I think my point was valid (so far as it goes) and I stand by it. You cited the disparity in percentage growth between teachers and administrators as though we are supposed to be shocked or outraged at that disparity, but as Keith pointed out, the percentages you orignally used did not account for the fact that support staff of all kinds is lumped in with administrators, and much of the increase in administration is driven by mandates of various kinds.

    Also, since the number of administrators is much smaller than teachers, any increase in administrative staff is bound to show up as a much greater (and more dramatic) number when expressed as a percentage.

    Now if I misunderstood your purpose (which I took from the context of this discussion) and you were simply pointing out the overall problem in growth of staff of all kinds outpacing student population growth, then your point is well taken. If I misunderstood your intention I apologize. If, however, your point was to somehow make this problem about administrative staffing alone I will respectfully maintain my exception.

    Oh – one other ting – when evaluating data such as there is no correlation between spending (or whatever – fill in the blank) and student achievment, I think it must be remembered that we are dealing with nation wide data. I do not necessarily concede that applies to T/E. Also, this community has chosen to support the quality of schools it has, and that is the essence of local control.

    We the People aka Not so New Reply:

    I encourage everyone to read the article Keith references in his post and compare it to Kevins’ comment.

    To paraphrase Milton Friedman, government organizations like public schools replace progress and greater efficiency with stagnation and higher costs, and generally substitute uniform mediocrity for the variety essential for that experimentation which can bring tomorrow’s laggards above today’s means and lead to greater organizational efficiency.

    Thanks for the article Keith. It’s disturbing but worth the read.

    Kevin Grewell Reply:

    However much the national education scene may or may not deserve the words you wrote (and the criticisms found in the article you refer to) I submit that words like “stagnation” and “mediocrity” DO NOT APPLY TO T/E. Some (many perhaps) public schools may be failing elsewhere, but that does not mean public education is failing here. T/E is an example of public education at its finest.

    And I beg to differ – in some places where it is failing, it is because it is not adequately funded.

    COMPARE THE WORDS “We the People” wrote with what you know about T/E:

    “To paraphrase Milton Friedman, government organizations like public schools replace progress and greater efficiency with stagnation and higher costs, and generally substitute uniform mediocrity for the variety essential for that experimentation which can bring tomorrow’s laggards above today’s means and lead to greater organizational efficiency . . . .”

    Does not sound like the T/E I know . . . . .

    We the People aka Not so New Reply:

    I did not write these words, these are the words of Milton Friedman.

    I thought it was a good idea to encourage people to read the article and your comment so they could draw their own conclusions about the state of public education here and around the country.

    You have some good points Kevin. Your continued defensiveness and hostility when you read something you don’t like diminishes the points you try to make.

    Kevin Grewell Reply:

    You think my comment was hostile? I thought my tone was quite reasonable. Could it be that you see hostility in any opinion that does not agree with yours?

    As for defensiveness – I do defend the school district against what I believe to be completely unwarranted attacks. I am pro- public education, and for good reason. The state of public education generally notwithstanding, T/E is an example of excellence – public education that works. Personally, I think we should be trying to improve our schools across this nation instead of trying to tear them down.

    We the People aka Not so New Reply:

    When people use all caps it’s a sign of hostility. I respect all opinions. Even if they differ from mine.

  12. There is some important information not included in the post above. The category “Administration” should actually be labeled “Administration and other staff“.
    .
    http://www.edchoice.org/Research/Reports/The-School-Staffing-Surge–Decades-of-Employment-Growth-in-Americas-Public-Schools.aspx
    .
    When we think about administrators, the superintendent, asst. superintendent, business manager and principal come to mind – all highly paid individuals and those that just got raises last night at TE.
    .
    When we think about “other staff”, secretaries, food service workers, custodians and para-professionals come to mind – all modestly paid hourly employees. It’s unfortunate that administrators and other staff are lumped together in the publication.
    .
    A better comparison might be specific information from Pennsylvania from 1992 to 2009.
    .
    Students 5%
    Teachers 29%
    Administrators and other support staff 36%
    .
    To be clear, I am concerned with the large growth in all staff (teachers, administrators and support staff) relative to student growth. However, it’s incorrect to give the impression that administrators are the “growth” problem.

    [Reply]

    kevin Grewell Reply:

    Bingo! Always important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. And it is always nice to have Keith who will have the research data at his fingertips. Certainly the growth in all staff relative to student growth is a valid concern, but the only way to evaluate that is to look rather specifically at each category of staff and ask why was that hire necessary, and could we have done without that extra administrator (or other staff, or teacher etc.) In many (but not all) cases you will find that some increased expectation or new law drove the additional hires.

    Percentages are often misued in making arguments. For example, let’s say that in the base year 1950 we had an elementary school with one “real” admninistrator – a principal, and 20 teachers. Fast forward to – let’s say – 1970. Disipline issues and additional paperwork casued by increased regulation results in the hire of an assistant principal. This is a 100% increase!!! Let’s say we also add 5 new teachers that year. This is a 25% increase. Say we pay the Asst. Principal $30,000 (remember, it’s 1970) and the teachers $15,000. The increase in teachers – a much smaller percentage – results in $75,000 impact to the budget, while the 100% increase in administrators results in $30,000 impact.

    [Reply]

  13. The admins got raises…for the first time in 2 or 3 years…and this is market driven. Our administrative group are here outmof,pride, but because we pay them. A home-grown admin, Dr. Dinkins, started as a high school English teacher. He did an administrative internship and made the transition. he has served in several positions, and earned his PhD. At the end of this school year, he will finish here and take the job of Director of the Upper School at Episcopal. Free will to change jobs, and credentials making him a target of a job search. We can expect these kinds of changes as other districts do…and when we get bitter about custodial pay, we can see what supply and demand does in the marketplace.

    [Reply]

  14. Dear Mr. Knauss,

    “6. The TE teachers did not make “concessions”. Their compensation did or will increase each year. Only the taxpayers made concessions in the form of higher taxes.”

    Not true!
    1. The teachers voluntarily took a 1/2 year freeze in 2011-2012.
    2. The teachers voluntarily took 4 1/2 day furlough days next year for which they will not be paid.
    3. The teachers voluntarily increased their health care premiums.
    4. The teachers got no raise in this contract. They did get a bonus in year 2. That bonus is not PSERS money and will not move teachers on the salary scale.
    5. Teachers at every level (elementary, middle, high school) are spending significantly more time with students because specials and team time has been cut. At the high school, teachers are teaching an additional period per day. This equates to an extra day of teaching per week.

    Contrast what TESD teachers agreed to with what other teachers in other districts (Phoenixville, West Chester, Downingtown) are asking for. Downingtown teachers just refused a fact finder’s report that would have given them raises each year and moved them on the salary schedule.

    TE teachers recognized the financial situation the district was in and made significant financial contributions to the district.

    I am interested in why you are so interested in our school district. Why don’t you stick to Unionville and your own Board’s problems? Also, why don’t you stick to the facts?

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    We the People Reply:

    I also prefer “sticking to the facts.” Keith does tend to engage in alot of guessing, speculating, wagering and suggesting but, in his defense, it’s difficult to answer questions and engage in a meaningful dialoge when the availability of full information required for collaboration is so lacking.

    The rules and reasons behind measures are so unclear, it is easy for participants to present perspectives in such a way that furthers their own agenda.

    [Reply]

  15. Bluedog,
    I guess it all depends on one’s definition of “concession”.
    .
    Some people think that agreeing to less than what some group is “asking for” is a concession. For instance, “I was asking for a 4% compensation increase, but I made a concession because I agreed to a 2% compensation increase”. Or, “the union in Downingtown was asking for a 6% increase, but I made a concession by agreeing to a 2% increase”.
    .
    My definition of a concession is agreeing to give something up that one already has or “going backward”. Prior to signing the contract, the union had a compensation package defined by the status quo. After signing the contract, the union had a compensation package that was superior to the status quo. (otherwise, the agreement would never have been signed) Thus, the union’s overall compensation package was more; there was no concession.
    .
    Certainly, there were areas of the contract, as you mentioned, where there was a concession. However, considered in total, the was no concession.

    [Reply]

  16. A broad look at compensation is needed for all educators. The majority of the U.S. work force experienced pay cuts, salary freezes, and lost money in their retirement funds (to which they contribute 15% of their salary, double a teacher’s contribution) in this recession.

    Closer to home, PA is an “at will” employment state. Employers may terminate employees without cause or notice, regardless of length of service.

    I empathize with educators, but a reality check is in order. Their neighbors, parents of their students, and the rest of the workforce is struggling, too.

    Teaching has long been a “lifestyle choice”. Compare the child-care expense of a teacher with other professions over time, the benefits, and job security. (Yes, I know teachers experienced layoffs in 2011, but compare these layoffs to other professions, it was a much more lucrative parting, and on a much smaller scale). There is not choice to take summers off in the corporate world, nor for school administrators.

    A teaching background has broad application. Those beginning their career concerned about the long term are free to explore other options; many of the sunset-ers have years to work after satisfying a teacher’s requirement for retirement.

    [Reply]

  17. Guy, you make good points.

    Mr. Buraks announced on Monday the formation of an outsourcing committee which will look into all facets of service that could be contracted out to save money. (Custodial, maintenance, cafeteria and secretarial) All of these departments and costs will be reviewed.

    It’s difficult to understand how the committee and board members could take the drastic measure to create a committee to consider contracting out jobs held by dedicated employees of the district, yet approve raises and bonuses for administrators with no announcement, public view or discussion.

    [Reply]

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