Andy Chambers Hired, Superintendent Waters to Retire and TESD Tax Increase not to Exceed 1.7%

Highlights of 1/28/13 TESD Meeting –

Adoption of the 2013-14 TESD preliminary budget:  By a unanimous vote the Board approved a resolution not to raise taxes above the Act 1 Index level of 1.7%.

Reconsideration of District Safety Consultant, Andy Chambers:  Former police chief Andy Chambers attended the TESD meeting last night.  Chambers offered no comment; however Superintendent Waters defended his choice in Chambers, offering a list of his qualifications, and firmly stating that the hiring was not cronyism as some in the public had suggested. TESD solicitor Ken Roos stated that he was of the opinion that the Board had not violated the Sunshine Act with the consent agenda approval of January 7 to hire Chambers.  However, Roos recommended the ‘reconsideration’ of Chambers so as to avoid possible legal costs to the District, if the Board’s January 7 action was legally pursued.

There was no mention from Waters, Roos or the Board members with regards to  the issues surrounding Chambers departure from the Tredyffrin Twp Police Department.  A few residents spoke in favor of hiring Chambers with only one resident asking about the “two sides of the story”, referring to the Finance Committee meeting and the dialogue between myself and Chambers and Kevin Buraks.

Although all members of the Board supported Chambers as qualified to serve as District Safety Consultant, two Directors voted against his hiring.  Using the lack of transparency in the process as reason, Anne Crowley and Rich Brake did not vote with their fellow board members to hire Chambers.  Crowley read a prepared statement, saying that although Chambers’ was qualified; she spoke of the need for transparency and that other candidates (besides Chambers) should have been reviewed in the process. Chambers was approved as District Safety Consultant 7-2.

Consent agreement and the inclusion of the Supervisory, Confidential and Administrator Compensation Plan, Compensation Adjustments for 2013-14 and One-Time Bonus:  Ray Clarke asked if these items could be separated from the consent agenda for Board and public discussion.  Board President Kevin Buraks response to Ray was that the discussion of these items could occur after the consent agenda approval.

Buraks took the vote to approve the consent agenda without discussion.  The Board voted to approve the consent agenda with the exception of two members.  Although voting with their Board members on the rest of the consent agenda, Crowley and Brake excluded their approval of the compensation plan , adjustment and bonus (#C2 and #C3), again using transparency in the process as the reason.

Following the consent agenda approval, Waters explained the compensation plan and budget impact.  Unfortunately, at this point it was 11 PM, and I did not understand his explanation of the specifics of the costs.  (If anyone has the details, please offer them as a comment.) Again on the defensive, Water defended the compensation plan, etc. listed as a consent agenda item – stating that this is the way it has been done for 10 years.  My response is – does that therefore make it right?  I have previously stated that the purpose of the consent agenda is for routine items (such as meeting minutes or financial reports) and I do not view a multi-year compensation plan and bonus as routine.

The other noteworthy item of the evening, occurred during Waters’ explanation of the compensation plan and budget impact — Waters announced his retirement at the end of the 2014/15 school year, explaining that he wanted to have the compensation plan in place for his successor.

For the record, between Waters and Roos talking about ‘blogs’ and ‘blog comments’ and the presence of Andy Chambers at the meeting, I found the meeting more than a little intimidating. Although Community Matters was never mentioned ‘by name’, the continual reference to the blogosphere was not lost on me.

It’s important that the public‘s business be done in public, so that we can be fully informed.  When the right to public discussion is removed, it becomes our responsibility to speak out … our ‘collective voices’ are important. An easy cure for lack of transparency is full visibility.

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  1. First, here’s what I was able to gather from the approved contract numbers provided last night in Dr Waters’ inimitable style:

    The annual cost increases for both contracts are as follows:
    2012/13 (current year): $197K
    2013/14: $175K
    2014/15: $167K
    2015/16: $173K
    2016/17: $116K (Admin Act 93 only)

    So by 2016/17 this commitment cumulates to an incremental expense of $828,000 per year, equal to a tax increase of 0.9% – over half this year’s increase.

    I would say that was worth a separate discussion, for the benefit of both taxpayers and fellow employees. Which could also have included all the strong supporting context and benefits of the proposed contract structure. I really thought we had got past “that’s the way it’s always been done”.

    So great credit to Mrs Crowley and Dr Brake for standing up for transparency.

    Here on CM we are trying (or at least, I am) to make the public aware of items that the Board does not deign to discuss in televised sessions. It’s really irritating to be castigated for failing to draw the connection between an unsupported budget impact number and two new multi-year contracts that have a material impact on expenses and likely taxes. Not only that, there is a significant current year impact that has never been disclosed, despite repeated attempts to understand the basis for the projected (second year in a row) $6 million expense increase.

    Perhaps if Mrs Crowley was in charge of the Finance Committee it would force attention to the matters that residents care about, explained in ways the average person can understand. As opposed to whatever inscrutable statements of financial position that we are graced with today.

    I really hope that transparency and accountability are big issues in this year’s election. Mrs Crowley and Dr Brake have got off to a good start if they intend to run.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thank you so much Ray for the contract details from last night. The information was not available in the agenda materials and I found Waters’ details on the subject, impossible to follow. Waters had volunteered that the contracts would be on the TESD website by the end of business today — as of 8:20 PM the information remains unavailable although a summary of last night’s meeting is on the website. I completely agree with your sentiments regarding transparency and accountability. Although the public is encouraged to attend meetings and ‘be involved’, I cannot help but feel that some of the Board members and administrators would prefer otherwise.

    BTW, there are four members of the school board whose terms are up this year — in addition to Rich Brake and Anne Crowley, so are the terms of Betsy Fadem and Kevin Buraks.

    I really hope that transparency and accountability are big issues in this year’s election.

    — they are to me and you, my friend!

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Ray,
    I think the numbers from Dr. Waters are inflated because of a misunderstanding of how a “bonus” works. At first glance, a 1.7% salary increase plus a 1% bonus each year for 4 years would seem to equate to a 2.7% salary increase each year. Not so. The actual salary increase is 2.7% in the first year followed by 1.7% in the last 3 years of the contract.
    .
    This is a very fair increase that is in-line with the Index and with what workers in the private sector are experiencing.

    [Reply]

    We the People aka Not so New Reply:

    Keith,

    I’ve been reading about Unionville Chadsford and the process you went through to find a new super. Can you or will you talk about that.

    Correct me if I’m wrong. A meeting was held and group of 20 residents got together to discuss the characteristics they would like to see in a new super.

    How is the new super working out? He took charge Sept. 1st right? It seems to me there are many new super in out surrounding district.

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Sure, we can talk about the superintendent search process. The search process was led by the Chester County Intermediate Unit superintendent Joe Obrien and his team. This is part of Joe’s job and he has led searches for several districts in the area. His services are free of charge. Part of the process entails meeting with several focus groups, one of which you mentioned above.
    .
    Dr. Sanville has been in his job since Sept 2011. He replaced a very capable and well-loved individual Sharon Parker. I’m pleased with the job he is doing. The best independent indication that he’s doing a good job is that in the last year I have never heard anyone say, “I miss Sharon Parker”.
    .
    A superintendent’s job is very demanding. Think of trying to please 9 bosses that change composition every 2 years. The pay is good but the hours are lousy.

    We the People aka Not so New Reply:

    Thank-you Keith. Other sources have reported that Dr. Waters did not actually announce his retirement after the 2013-2014 school year, so we may not need this information any time soon but I appreciate it.

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    One clarification that occurs to me – part of the annual cost is for one time bonuses, which of course will not be built into the salary or pension base with the annual salary increases. If an analysis had been provided, I would have had documentation of the amounts.

    [Reply]

  2. If mrs. Crowley and dr. Brake had requested the item come off the consent agenda, it’s policy that it would. So…was their vote a show or what? It’s as transparent as any individual member wants it to be.

    [Reply]

    We the People aka Not so New Reply:

    Do you think they were instructed to exclude their approval to give the appearance of a sliver of independent thinking or do you think their vote was genuine?

    [Reply]

  3. The contracts were on the school district web site earlier today when I checked. Under Human Resources. They say through 2016/2017 so I assume they are the latest ones.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thanks TE Resident — I was looking under the School Board tab on the website for the contracts. For those that are interested, this is the TESD link for the various District contracts: http://www.tesd.net/domain/42

    [Reply]

  4. I am going to believe that Mrs. Crowley and Dr. Brake showed some independent thought and voted based on doing whats right, not just going along. The school board should be led by example and at this point Buraks as president hasn’t done a very good job of leading.

    [Reply]

    we the people aka not so new Reply:

    Is anyone running against Mr. Buraks? When does that start and how does it work?

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Here’s a link to all the School Board Directors and the region that they represent: http://www.tesd.net/Page/237 Kevin Buraks represents Tredyffrin Township, Region 1. I mentioned that Buraks and Brake (Tredyffrin) and Fadem and Crowley (Easttown) terms are up in 2013 but at this point they have not declared whether they will seek reelection or not. I have a name of someone who I was told was likely to oppose Buraks as candidate but since that information has not been verified, I should not give the name at this point.

    Here’s a link to Chester County Voter Services — which gives the calendar and deadlines for getting onto the primary ballot. http://www.chesco.org/index.aspx?NID=288

    [Reply]

    We the People aka Not so New Reply:

    Interested Resident,

    Why didn’t Brake and Crowly request the item be taken off the consent agenda if they thought they were voting on doing what’s right. They knew that even though they voted no, it would still go through unless they requested to have it removed from the consent agenda so in a sense it was for show. Right?

    Do you think they could not overcome group pressure to push through and act on their conviction?

    [Reply]

    Kevin grewell Reply:

    Uh, it was not on the consent agenda – it was discussed at length as a priority action item. This is what I am talking about – people going out of their way to find conspiracy in everything.

    [Reply]

    Kevin grewell Reply:

    Oh, I see you were referring to the consent agenda – I was referring to the chambers matter. Regarding the consent agenda, perhaps brake and Crowley did not see any point in prolonging a meeting that was already way, way too long – I still don’t see any reason to question why they voted the way they did. Having watched them during a number of meetings, i find it very hard to believe they are doing anything other than what they think is right. The problem I am having is the tendency to see conspiracy in everything.

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Dr. Waters stated that for the last 10 years the compensation plan/bonus has always been included in the consent agenda. As a former School Board member, do you agree that with its inclusion on the consent agenda or would you prefer the compensation be a priority discussion item. Keith Knauss — as a UCF Board member, how does your School Board matter handle the situation, consent agenda or priority discussion. And before you answer, I am not comparing TESD to UCF — only looking for a reference point.

    For the record, I am not interested in conspiracy theories, just transparency.

    We the People aka Not so New Reply:

    Who said anyone was trying to find conspiracy in anything? We’re having a conversation.

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    UCF doesn’t use a consent agenda – each individual action item is voted upon. Many of the items are dispatched quickly – motion made, no discussion, vote. Some items have minimal discussion, say, just an explanation for the public. Some have lengthy discussion.
    .
    Another difference is the use of our work session always held one week prior to the voting meeting. The work session agenda is a mirror of the voting meeting agenda and discussion is free-wheeling. If the public is interested in the details they will come to the work session.
    .
    A few months ago I almost made a motion to initiate a consent agenda. It’s a time saver. However, after the problems experienced recently at TE, I now understand the downside and will not recommend the adoption of a consent agenda.

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thanks for the information on UCF Keith, very helpful to know how your District handles the process.

  5. “I really hope that transparency and accountability are big issues in this year’s election.”

    Here here to you all for bringing truth to our township and for not being ‘afraid’ to do so.

    Screaming for change or people who don’t roll over and realize that administration also needs change and needs a new direction. They also need to realize the morale for teachers and support staff is nearly at rock bottom. So imagine the impact the downer attitude has on our children.

    [Reply]

  6. I second that TE Resident. The new Board members will be involved in selecting a new super. so it’s important we take care to elect independent thinkers who won’t bring in more of the same. We need people who will represent the children and the citizens, people who will consider the interests of the people over the interests of themselves.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Grewell Reply:

    “We need people who will represent the children and the citizens, people who will consider the interests of the people over the interests of themselves”

    What interests of themselves? What exactly do you think anyone is getting out of serving on this board, besides abuse?

    And you think Brake and Crowley’s votes were orchestrated to give the appearance of dissent? Seems paranoid to me.

    [Reply]

    Cowardly Anonymous Reply:

    Kevin–Brake and Crowley were righteously indignant …you know full well that anything comes off,the consent agenda if a Board member requests it. And much as I hate to say it, I think Dr. waters showed poor judgment in burying the ACP in the consent agenda. But to say it has been that way for 10 years is misleading, because the ACP extends for several years. And the board needs to take this topic public for more than budget reasons. Extremely senior staff that are well compensated get a 2.5% pension raise for every year they continue working. On a $200,000 salary, that is $2500 a year increase in a pension without any raise. These salaries are typically supported by market forces, so the analysis should pass muster with even angry taxpayers.

    Just saw Bill Gates on Charlie Rosem talking about the need to infuse education with technology (distance learning)! because it is the only opportunity to control and slow the increased labor costs. So an ACP, offers some stability.

    [Reply]

    We the People aka Not so New Reply:

    Thank-you Cowardly,

    Since the issue was on the agenda for discussion, Brake and Crowly knew it would pass yet they still voted no because they thought that was the right thing to do.

    Contrary to Kevins’ statement, I did not think they were made puppets by the board nor did I think they were manipulated into not requesting that it be taken off the consent agenda. They clearly knew exactly what they were doing and they knew it was for show because the issue had already been discussed behind closed doors. I appreciate the way they voted and I especially appreciate the courage they displayed in cobbling up the nerve to go against a very powerful board.

    I simply wanted to explore the reason why they didn’t request to have it removed from the consent agenda. Is that a big deal? Does it happen often? Are there repercussions from other board members?

    I’m trying to learn and understand process. Thanks

  7. I’m just asking Kevin. I didn’t say I think B and C are orchestrating the appearance of disstent.

    Just because you get angry and hostile and you name call does not make you right.

    [Reply]

    kevin Grewell Reply:

    Ok so you “just asked a question”. But look at what you said – I think most people reading this blog will see an accusation in this – that is, either Brake and Crowley are part of a full board conspiracy or they are spineless puppets who were manipulated into going along.

    In politics, the oldest trick in the book is to pose something as a question and thereby make the accusation while maintaining the ability to deny having made said accusation. In fact, lawyers use this technique in the court room. (“Objection!” “Sustained”. “Sorry, your honor, I was just asking a question . . . ” The problem is that the jury already heard that and the accusation is planted in their minds).

    Here is what you said:

    “Do you think they were instructed to exclude their approval to give the appearance of a sliver of independent thinking or do you think their vote was genuine?”

    “Why didn’t Brake and Crowly request the item be taken off the consent agenda if they thought they were voting on doing what’s right. They knew that even though they voted no, it would still go through unless they requested to have it removed from the consent agenda so in a sense it was for show. Right?”

    Now, for the record, here is the problem with that. Brake and Crowley are praised for their independence and transparency, then moments later are accused of being either co-conspirators or puppets. The day is coming when good people with a reputation to protect will not consent to serve on the school board. Why would anyone with a good reputation, who cares about their reputation (the kind of people you want on the board) ever sign up for this?

    I’ll give just one concrete example of how this is bad for the sytem – suppose a local business man or woman wants to serve on the board. The day is coming (and perhaps is already here) where a person with a business will never run for the board. To do so gurantees damage to their business which relies on their reputation – they won’t do it because they know that no matter what they do they will be smeared on the blogs. Don’t you think it would be a useful perspective to have represented on the board – someone who knows business? Won’t happen, and that is not good for the process – I could think of other examples but this is enough to make the point.

    Personally, I would not vote for either Brake or Crowley – but my reasons are not relevant to this discussion. What I do defend is that they are independent – they are neither part of a conspiracy nor are they puppets. It is really unfair and un-called for to imply otherwise, especially after they were the only “no” votes last night.

    [Reply]

    TR Reply:

    I think it is interesting how quickly you say what is it is not called for when it comes to comments. You spoke in favor of Andy and like everyone else, you chose to ignore how Andy was dismissed from the TTPD. He lied and tried to cover something up. I think we should expect more of our consultants. You think differently and that is your right. As to the safety of our kids, Andy put his own child in an unsafe situation. Just like Waters said “I could go on….” Why the affinity for this guy? Was he an Eagle Scout? :-P The Board and the Sup. were wrong, procedurally, ethically and morally.

    Karen was right. This was a no brainer decision. No brains were used in the decision.

    [Reply]

    Kevin grewell Reply:

    You are not fooling anyone posting under “tr” . You used to post under your own name – and I respected that and said so – even when i did not agree with you – what gives with that?

    I explained my reasons in detail many times. I would have addressed the issue at the meeting had it come up, but surprisingly it did not. Where were all the citizens who were so outraged on this blog? None of them showed up to speak in person. Perhaps because you have to identify yourself and be accountable for your remarks? Why should I bring up chamber’s circumstances of leaving the force when none of his critics did? I had already decided that was not a deal breaker for me. So – where were you?

    And quit slamming the boy scouts – not all scout leaders are morally bankrupt because the national leadership of the organization has done some terrible things. Quite the opposite. This is a form of the “straw man” attack – which is resorted to by those who have a weak argument.

    Now I am sure you will come back with another ad hominem attack, but I think it is time to move on. This has been discussed ad nauseum (to use another handy Latin phrase) and it is a done deal.

    TR Reply:

    Kevin,

    I’ll tell you where I was not, at a place vouching for a liar who isn’t qualified for the position he was hired. You had that covered.

    TR Reply:

    I think you raise a good point in that there are politics involved. This issue is toxic. What we do know is that Kevin Buraks is not politically astute. He has several problems now:

    – He appears to be a weak leader (a leader in name only) and that he appears to be Dan Waters’ puppet

    – He appears to be OK with bad process and no transparency.

    – He appears to ignore inconvienent facts, like how Chambers was dismissed. He also appears not to have independent thought.

    – He appears to be falling into the trap of how Republicans like to define Democrats, as a bunch of tax and spend liberals who bow to the teachers and administration at the expense of the taxpayer.

    These are just a few items. It all goes to bad judgment. Brake has postioned himself on being on the opposite side of those issues. The person who runs against Buraks has a laundry list of items that will be very effective. Buraks, on TV, looks like an immature buffoon who doesn’t have a good grasp of what is going oin and what he has done. I don’t see how the Democrats can support him. I suspect they will as they don’t have much in the way of a candidate backlog. This will have a disasterous effect on the BoS races as well. The Dems appear to be lockstep behind Buraks. The Dems all appear to complain about how things are run around here. It’s going to be difficult to carry a torch for transparency when one of their own in Buraks is one fo the prime offenders when it comes to a lack of transparency. I think Buraks is going to find himself becoming a 1 term school board member. He’s in for a bumpy ride and he ought to think very seriously if he wants to go through that. He should realize that he’ll be dragging his family along for the ride. These races have become very nasty and this one has the makings of being the most nasty race there will be in 2013.

    As for Kevin, don’t let him deter you. He’s very open about his support for a guy who lied to the BoS which got him fired. He’s also fine with the way the school board operates. It’s an interesting value system he has, one that he is entitled to. Suggest you consider that when he pontificates on what is and is not acceptable.

    It all goes to show that it really doesn’t matter what party these people are in.

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    I am not detered by Kevin. I would love to spend my entire day and night conversing with you and othrs on CM. I have a job and many other responsibilites and engagements that keep me from it.

    If possible, I’d like to know:

    The top 3 dems
    The top 3 Rebublicans

    Thanks

    [Reply]

    kevin Grewell Reply:

    Well TR

    You go on and on about transparency while posing under false names – then you question my values. Yeah, I guess I do have “interesting” values. My values include standing up for what I think is right even when that is unpopular and is going to cost me personally. I got that from the Boy Scouts you so despise. From my religion I got the idea of forgivness and second chances, where – as here – the transgression is relatively minor. I’ll admit my values are out of style these days – especially in politics, where bitter, hateful character assassination rules today.

    I had forgotten the dollars – how minor this incident was, so I went back and looked it up. The damage to the car was $745, and that inclued $45 in tow charges. (all paid by Chambers). As for the rest of it, we should be careful what we say. The supervisors saw fit to suspend him for four days – then he resingned and retired. He was not “fired”.

    None of this gets my moral outrage engaged. But that is not the reason for my position. As I have said, it is not relevant to the position of consultant in this case. I am not excusing of defending anything, just putting it in perspective. The way some people go on, you would think we are talking about a serial child rapist . . . .

    What is relevant? Graduate of the FBI Academy, SWAT, knowledge of bombs, hazardous materials, commendations for bravery, involvement with the school district post Columbine and post Virginia Tech . . . .

    Dan Waters wanted to move quickly after Sandy Hook. The cost of this, rounding the budget to $100 million, is 0.000125%. Seems like that ought to be within the discretion of the Superintendent.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Kevin, From my vantage point, the issue of TESD hiring Chambers was not so much about his letting his teenage son drive a police car and the accident (although I am not suggesting that this was not significant), it was what happened after the incident. The accident was not reported when it occurred — the Board of Supervisors only found out about the kid driving the police car and the accident, after receiving an anonymous tip. Again, not the incident itself (and yes, Chambers paid for the damages to the police car) it was the cover-up.

    TR Reply:

    You choose to look at the $ amount as being relevant. Bottom line, Andy tried to cover up the whole thing. But for an anonymous tip from not one, but two cops, did the BoS find out about it. Those actions and omissions on Andy’s part indicate a level of dishonesty. You cannot argue that point. Go back to your days on the school board. Let’s say you were interviewing a candidate for supt. Let’s say you find out about a similar type of instance with that candidate. Are you going to tell us you would still hire him? You may indeed say yes and you may cite stellar qualifications. Let’s look at the qualifications you cite for Andy: [Graduate of the FBI Academy, SWAT, knowledge of bombs, hazardous materials, commendations for bravery, involvement with the school district post Columbine and post Virginia Tech . . . ]. I’ll grant you that he is a highly qualified police officer. As for previous involvement with the schools, I’ll cite the fact that ID’s, up until a short time ago, were not required. These “building hardening” measures we see today, why not implement them post Columbine? BTW, that event was nearly 14 years ago. What exactly did Andy do “post Columbine”? VA Tech? That was nearly 6 years ago. What exactly did Andy do “post VA Tech?” In neither case was Andy the Superintendent of Police. I don’t recall a committee being convened after either of those tragedies. Again, you, Dan Waters, etc cite “Andy’s involvement” after those two tragedies. It’s pure hyperbole on all of your parts to do that. I’m all for giving credit where credit is due. I’m also not about giving false credit. Let’s assume for a moment that Andy was involved in some discussions post Columbine and post VA Tech? Columbine was most similar to Sandy Hook. Wouldn’t the same measures suggested now be applicable then? As I understand it, the buzz in system and protective film on the windows was suggested by somebody else. The buildings have not changed. What audits did he provide before?
    How many non TESD audits has Andy done? What is his methodology? What approach does he use? Other than knowing the buildings, what real expertise does he bring to the table? Knowledge of the buildings isn’t actually any expertise at all. It’s knowledge and it’s knowledge that is pretty easy to come by.
    Let’s cut to the chase. Let me tell you why Dan Waters is such a fan of Andy Chambers in this context. First, Andy is Dan’s guy. Andy gets a nice little gig and makes some coin. This helps Andy in his rehabilitation post getting knocked out of the TTPD. BTW, in reality, Andy got forced out. If you don’t see that, it’s not that you are naïve or blind. You are just being dishonest with the facts. He lost control of his command. He could not lead anymore. He didn’t have the moral authority to lead. He covered something up and whether the $ damage was 1.00 or $10,000 or $1,000,000, the essential principle remains. That principle is honor and integrity. Andy Chamber dishonored the badge and the very people he was appointed to serve. For me, that makes him uniquely disqualified to serve the school board. But not for cronies like Dan Waters. Let’s get back to that.

    Waters needs three things. 1, the appearance of being responsive. 2, the need for a report that appears to be based on a professional assessment. 3, that same report, while finding need for improvement, is not too critical. Without those items, it makes Waters look bad and that is something he cannot have. The Board can’t have that either.

    As for the FBI Academy, bravery, etc. etc., I’ll concede that those are nice items on a CV. For consulting like this, I don’t see the relevance. I don’t see them being the more important than actually engaging in this type of consulting as a primary focus. There are people that do this sort of work as a profession. As for the “bargain” Buraks, I wasn’t aware that we were looking for a bargain. I thought we would be looking to get the right advice.

    But look at who I’m talking to. A former TESD Board Member who, like these people, were cool with burying things in a consent agenda. Seriously Kevin, why does it bother you that others would be critical of this process? You appear to be taking it personally. Other than a few folks that have a political interest, there’s not much support for Andy, the Board or Dan on this. You really look quite foolish on this.

    Kevin Grewell Reply:

    TR,

    As usual you are missing my point. The idea was to respond quickly after Sandy Hook to immediately identify anything further we could do to make the schools more safe, then to implement them ASAP. This is not a permanent hire, it is a consultant with a not to exceed number of $12,500 with a specifc purpose – to review the safety of all the schools now – not after an RFP which would take many weeks (realistically more like months – which would be appropriate if you were creating a permanent position, which this is not).

    By the way, changes were made after both Columbine and VA Tech., there were weaknesses identified and there were some changes implemented. And no, I will not discuss anything specific related to security on a public blog – for reasons which should be quite obvious. I do remember at least one vulnerability which was quite significant which was addressed. An easy way to a mass killing which is now much more difficult. That is as much detail as I will give you or anyone.

    You don’t see the relevance of graduating from the FBI Academy, etc. – we will have to disagree on that. We had an outside consulting firm after Columbine – very early in my time on the board, and if memory serves, it cost $100,000. Some of the recommendations were useful, some were not. I believe the use of Chambers will be more efficient and useful, but again, I would expect the work product to be confidential between the consultant, the board, and the administration.

    As for IDs and even buzzer doors, I submit that those are the obvious kind of things done to make people feel better which do not add much in terms of real security. I would be looking for more sophisticated advice regarding threat identification and prevention. You are stating that Chambers’ background is not relevant to the task- well, what are your credentials to say so? Are you a professional security consultant or police officer? Ex military intelligence? Counter-terrorism, perhaps? We don’t even know who you are (transparency?!) so we don’t even have that bit of information with which to evaluate your opinions. You are just offering your unqualified opinion and it is no better than mine.

    Actually, Andy’s background is something that critics should listen to – I encourage anyone interested to watch the tape of the school board meeting. Even the two “no” votes were based upon procedural and transparency concerns and NOT because they thought Chambers is not qualified. Brake and Crowley were quite specific on that point – they said so quite directly and they did not have to do that. Again, anyone who is interested should watch the tape. Brake called him “an American hero.”

    Based upon the information on hand, I think it is a defensible decision, a good one in fact, but I have never said I cannot understand how anyone else could disagree. The problem I have is the extreme negativity. As I have pointed out many times elsewhere, this kind of process is NOT good for the school district or the community.

    Now I intend to stop and let you have the last word if you want it. Otherwise this will go on forever. An endless shunt loop of blogging is the 7th level of Dante’s hell.

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Kevin, your response ignores the cover-up by Chambers.

    TR Reply:

    —————————
    I would be looking for more sophisticated advice regarding threat identification and prevention.
    —————————

    This sort fo thing has nothing to do with buildings. This has to do with profiling which is not a skill that was cited in Andy’s CV.

    —————————-
    Based upon the information on hand, I think it is a defensible decision, a good one in fact, but I have never said I cannot understand how anyone else could disagree. The problem I have is the extreme negativity. As I have pointed out many times elsewhere, this kind of process is NOT good for the school district or the community.
    —————————-

    What are you saying here Kevin? You agree this was bad process? You say you don’t like the negativity? Andy’s dismissal from the TTPD, which was really the case, is a fact. That’s not being negative. The supt. and Board ignoring that fact is a fact. That’s not being negative. To be clear, I don’t have to get to Andy’s qualifications for two rreasons: 1, the lack of process and transparency and 2, the circumstances upon which he was separated from the TTPD. As to the qualifications that Waters, you, the Board and Buraks put out there, when you examine them, are not all of the qualifications one should have. Andy has no prior experience with this kind of consulting. But again, I don’t have to debate Andy’s experience. You on the other hand, must ignore facts to try to make your point and that makes your point weak if not outright non-existent., Perhaps that’s why you think I missed it, because I either can’t see it or it’s just not there.

    As to negativity, now you are saying that ID’s and buzzers don’t mean a thing? Why didn’t you tell the Board that on Monday? Why are you saying it here now?

    Kevin, what exactly IS your point? My point is pretty clear and I’ve given concrete reasons for that point. You seem to be all over the place and not making much sense. As for the last word, you can have it when you finally make a point and that point makes sense.

    We the People Reply:

    TR

    I’m trying to understand…………….

    If citizens blindly pull the lever for Republicans without knowledge of the candidate, how did Mr. Buraks and Ms. Crunshank get elected if they are democrats? How did two democrats get appointed president of the school board? And If Neil is running against Mr. Buraks, and he is a Republican (I’m assuming (another word) that he is a Republican, I don’t know that) wouldn’t the fact that he is a Republican make it rather easy for him?

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    Also TR,

    If Neil defeats Mr. Buraks, surely he would not slip in to the position of President right away. Would Dr. Motel take that position?

  8. I have thought the same thing. We need a retired business person to step up (there are plenty of them around) or a finance/business person with no children in the classrooms. Having children in the classrooms is a show stopper. Mr. Buraks and Dr. Motel have 2 to 3 each in the district. And that’s our Pres. and Vice Pres. How is it possible for them to have any objectivity?

    At the risk of being personally attacked, I would like for you or someone else, maybe Pattye or Andrea or Keith to talk about what a priority discussion item is.

    In case anyone is wondering, I don’t know any of you, and have never met any of you.

    [Reply]

    Kevin grewell Reply:

    I agree we need a variety of points of view and demographics represented on the board – while I don’t think it is necessarily bad for board members to have kids in school, I can understand why someone who is retired without kids might want to have his or her concerns represented by one or more board members like themselves. Again, I totally respect anyone who wants to run for a seat. Grass roots democracy in action, American as apple pie and a good thing.

    Having said that, I think a person with kids can have objectivity and represent the interests of all citizens – it depends on the person. And I think it is important to be an advocate of quality public education but also be able to balance the interests of parents with kids and the “taxpayers” (but parents are taxpayers too!) you see, your question could be turned around – “how can anyone without kids in the schools have any objectivity?”

    I would hope that an older retired board member could also balance the concerns of parents with kids in the schools . . .

    And a priority action is simply something on the agenda for discussion as opposed to being on the consent agenda.

    [Reply]

    bob Reply:

    Why are parents with kids in school so bad for the school board?

    I have kids in the school AND I am a taxpayer. I would argue that one does not outweigh the other – I want the best education for my kids for the lowest cost. Balance the two objectives.

    However, I would argue that taxpayers without kids might more be interested in one piece of that equation – lowest cost. Since their kids are grown and gone, the ‘best education’ piece has a lower importance.

    Of course, there is another subset – taxpayers who still have kids to come through the district. However, most times, they are still building a career and don’t have the time available.

    Also, as a parent of kids, I believe I’m more aware of what is going on in the schools – since I live it and breathe it daily. I might be more inclined to critically question the Administration rather than just take what they say at face value.

    [Reply]

  9. It is just a community discussion and I can certainly see both sides. I do believe most public elected representatives in this community do their level-best to provide service to the Public Trust. On the other hand, I get frustrated at times trying to follow the bouncing ball when it comes the the TESB. Process and transparency are important when dealing with financial matters that affect the public. Obviously, in two situations this week individual Board members had issue with the Board’s process and transparency. They used their votes and their voices to say so…part of the Democratic process and I was glad to see it.

    Most citizens don’t have the time or inclination to follow the Board’s deliberations closely…that’s fine as that is their right. Obviously that is not universally true or we wouldn’t all be so interested in forums like this one. I follow the budget development process pretty closely and I’ve been taken aback at some of the actions the Board has taken…possibly I don’t fully understand their management structure and guidelines.

    Maybe an example or two will help. (1) Last year’s budget strategies included an item for Outsourcing Janitorial Staff which was a right given the Board in the TENIG Collective Bargaining Agreement. The financial impact of the strategy was estimated at $958,000 the first year. At one finance meeting (I believe last February but it could have been March), it was announced that this strategy was being removed from consideration as an agreement was reached with the labor group to waive that right in exchange for $300,000 in savings (payroll related). Within 8 days, a new Memorandum of Understanding was signed and adopted by the Board. Now, before I get in hot water, I’m not advocating against the decision involved here BUT I would have liked to hear the pros and cons of the strategy. At the time, the Board was looking at a fairly sizable budget deficit and a $1 MM savings could certainly have helped. The decision was perfectly within the Board’s authority but it made me feel uneasy with the process. The implementation of the contract change would not have taken place for several months. Could the Board have given the public the chance to review the details for 30 days? Did it have to move to “done deal” in 8 days?

    In the final Finance meeting of last fiscal year (6/11/12), the board proposed new Fund Balance commitments. In their meeting materials posted on their website that day, these new balances were detailed. By 7:00 that evening, the detail had changed as the Board elected to move $10.3 MM in Fund Balance into a new Capital Projects Fund. That change was approved and adopted by the full Board 3 days later. But here again…Process and Transparency could be called into question. Between 11:00 AM and 7:00 PM on the day of the last public finance meeting of the year somehow a $10.3 MM allocation was changed. Again, totally within the Board’s power but was the public given any chance to review or comment? It’s a pretty sizable number for an afternoon decision AND it also increased Authorized Spending in the adopted budget by the same $10.3 MM (OK…stay out of the accounting weeds..I know).

    At this week’s meeting we had two issues of process and transparency…not just issues for the blog-o-sphere..but for the individual members of the Board. Two contracts were adopted in the Consent Agenda. Other than one-time bonuses, these contracts don’t become valid for several months. COULD the (interested segment of the) public been allowed to see these contract details before adoption? Maybe. would this help in maintaining the Public’s trust? Maybe. Did the Board do anything wrong? I don’t think so.

    Sometimes I get the feeling most of the key decisions have been before public disclosure in the open forum of Board meetings. I would guess this is typical and helps stream-line the process. Could we do better? Probably. Would it hurt the operation of the Board to present at one meeting and adopt at a future meeting? Probably depends on the item/issue.

    Conspiracy is a tough word/concept but I do get an uneasy feeling sometimes watching the workings of the TESB. Often I chalk it up to “I don’t know all their rules and requirements for public disclosure”. I’m glad we get a chance to “chew the fat” here and I appreciate all I learn from Keith and Kevin and the rest of you… Best we can do as the public is to remain vigilant and informed.

    [Reply]

    kevin Grewell Reply:

    Neal,

    You make some good points. I don’t think the board did anything wrong, but some times the way things are done may give rise to the appearance that they did. The political climate has changed in recent years, and the school district may not have caught up with that yet. More on that below . . . .

    One problem is that a lot of the discussion occurs at committee meetings, so when the item gets to the regular board meeting there is not a lot of discussion and it looks like a “rubber stamp” at times. That does not seem to be the case in the examples you just cited, but it is often a problem and deserves mentioning while we are on this topic.

    Regarding your specific examples, sometimes things do move fast. There is merit in what you say about slowing them down a bit – to give anyone interested the time to look at the issue and provide commentary if they want to. I don’t think any of this is deliberate, but it can give the impression that the board is hiding the ball. Likewise with putting things on the consent agenda.

    We have more people paying close attention to the details – particularly financial details – than we did in the past. Some of them are expressing frustration and asking for more opportunity to have the data in advance in an understandable format. Ok, let’s take this as a positive thing – democracy in action, right?

    Perhaps in the future the board should rely on the consent agenda less, when an item is likely to be controversial or of interest to citizens (not always easy to see in every case, but maybe err in the direction of using the consent agenda less). The downside is that meetings which are already way too long and tedious will get even more so. It may be the price that has to be paid to avoid the “conspiracy problem” I have argued.

    Today, partly because of the “blogosphere” and partly because the two political parties are much more active and every election is contested, anything that can be interpreted as a conspiracy or lack of transparancy – no matter how innocent or unintentional – will be siezed upon and used. I think this actually detracts from the ability of the public to focus on issues – it would be better – more transparent – if the discussion could focus on the merits of an action rather than on the question of whether there is (or is not) some sinister back room conspiracy at work.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Kevin, thank you for appreciating how the intentions of the Board may be misinterpreted when non-routine items are placed on the consent agenda. I am sure that you are correct that a number of issues are resolved in committee and, as means to speed up the regular Board meetings, they may get added to the consent agenda. However, unlike the regular School Board meetings, the committee meetings are not videotaped — so unless you attend the committee meetings, the only way you know the background of an issue is whatever is said during the regular School Board meetings. Questions, specifically those related to budget items, should be welcomed by the Board.

    Regardless of what has transpired in the past, I am of the strong opinion that placing non-routine items (particularly multi-year compensation plans) on a consent agenda is not a good idea. Do I think that the Board was intentionally trying to mislead the public with this action — no. And I am not saying that what they did was a violation of the Sunshine Act. The problem for me was that there was nothing in the supporting agenda materials that offered the value of the compensation adjustments or bonuses. There was no discussion of the budget impact of these issues until after the consent agenda was approved by the Board. If the Board policy is to have non-routine items listed on the consent agenda, at a minimum there needs to be supporting documentation included with the agenda.

    Beyond the blogosphere and political involvement as possible reasons for increased scrutiny — I think that personal economics are involved. As recently as five years ago, people’s personal finances may have been in a far better place than they are now. Many people are dealing with an uncertain financial future — through FLITE we see the increased needs among our own TESD family. Circumstances have forced many in the community to pay closer attention to their personal finances, and that includes their tax dollars. Scrutinizing the District’s finances should be welcomed whether from School Board or from members of the public.

    [Reply]

    kevin Grewell Reply:

    People have every right to be involved as much as they want to be, and getting information should not be difficult, rather it should be made as easy as it possibly can be. And I understand your point about people having economic reasons for getting involved. I have zero problem with that.

    I have been very specific about what I do have problems with, and rather than beat that dead horse again (it’s glue already) I will stand on what I have said. The topic is pretty well covered from all sides.

    TR Reply:

    —————————————————————–
    Did the Board do anything wrong? I don’t think so.
    ——————————————————————

    So no need for you to run for school board then, right? If you are going to run, you may want to reconsider these kinds of public statements. Personally, the board has engaged in a lot of wrong acts. Their abuse of the consent agenda is wrong. Their being in the back pocket of Waters is wrong. Here’s another one for you. Why is the EIT getting mentioned by these people? Didn’t they promise in the last election to not consider the EIT? Remember those yellow signs? The Democrats immediately capitulated to that message, saying they would not consider an EIT. The financial position today is not dramatically different than it was in 2011. How does a group of prople that collectively punted on the EIT, regardless of party, now consider an EIT? If you are going to run, and rumor is you are, then you better be clear on your message. As it stands now, you are finding some fault, but then in the end, saying they are OK. If you think you can do better, then be clear. Don’t waffle. Call these people out and be a voice of change.

    If you were on the Board, would you have voted to hire Chambers? Would you approve of using the consent agenda as a way to bury items? If you would not, then say that and call these people out on that which you would not do in the name of fairness and transparency.

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    Neil,

    I’m curious about your thoughts regarding the formation of a committee by the board to consider outsourcing of custodial, maintenance, cafeteria and secretarial jobs given the bold move a short time ago to approve salary and bonus increases, hidden and slid through in a consent agenda, without benefit of public view or discussion, to the administrators.

    Why would the board act like they are deeply concerned about balancing the budget, yet give raises to a segment whose salaries are already so generous in these tough economic times? Do you or anyone else really believe one of these employees would leave had they not received these increases? What do you think the formation of this committee does to the morale of the hardworking secretaries, who come to work every day to support the administrators, who just received raises and bonuses on their already inflated salaries, knowing that their jobs are on the chopping block at any given moment.

    None of this makes sense to me.

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    We,
    .
    I think you are expressing the sentiment that It is unfair for the Board to give the administrators a 2% salary increase and then talk about outsourcing support staff jobs.
    .
    Put yourself in the board’s shoes. The board has the constitutional duty to provide a “thorough and <efficient education” to our students. They have information that the same support staff services can be obtained at a significantly reduced cost through outsourcing.
    .
    There are a few possible paths:
    a) ignore the potential cost savings
    b) outsource
    c) bargain with the employees to bring in-house compensation in-line with outsourcing costs
    .
    What would you do?

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    Providing a “thorough and “efficient education” to our students” has nothing to do with approving a salary increase and bonus for the administrators. The board must have known this (I’m guessing now, because full disclosure is so lacking) because they slipped this through in a consent agenda in the dark of night. If they’re were so confident about this decision, why not open it up to public view? How does a salary increase to the administrators improve education to our students? In my view, it does just the opposite.

    Approving a salary increase for the already inflated salaries of the administrators does nothing but cause further animosity and hard feelings among all segments of employees in our school system.

    What would I do? I wouldn’t approve a salary increase to the administrators, hidden in a consent agenda passed in the dark of night. I don’t think the administrators would mind. I think they are grateful for their already huge salaries and I don’t think one of them would even consider leaving their jobs even if asked to take a pay cut.

    Why don’t we try that and see what happens?

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Hi We,
    .
    We agree that using the consent agenda for the administrator’s agreement was stupid. However, I disagree with your use of the terms “inflated”, “huge”, and “so generous” to describe the agreement. I would call it “competitive”.
    .
    Let’s inject some data into the discussion. There are 5 districts surrounding TE and many more that would love to fill open administrative positions with current TE employees.

    Here is the average administrative salary from the 2011-12 database available from PDE for the 6 local districts.
    .
    Lower Merion $135,196
    Great Valley $131,326
    TE $126,340
    Phoenixville $125,178
    Upper Merion $124,640
    Radnor $122,229
    .
    TE is in the middle of the pack. So, either TE offers competitive salaries or all 6 districts have huge, generous, and inflated salaries.

    We the People Reply:

    Keith and Cowardly,

    What kind of Board of Education approves raises in these times of layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts and district money woes. How can our elected officials justify this action when money for school programs is so tight? Since full disclosure is so lacking I’m taking a guess, but I don’t think the administrators were beating down any doors trying to procure higher salaries for themselves.

    The school board members are elected officials. It is their responsibility to safeguard the funds of TESD for the students of TESD.

    Neal Colligan Reply:

    Wow…lots of questions. First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day.
    Putting two longer term contracts in the Consent Agenda was wrong, in my opinion. That was also the opinion of a minority of the Board itself. Why? I like your words: slid through in a consent agenda, without benefit of public view or discussion.
    As far as the formation of a committee to look at out-sourcing: I started by pulling the TENIG contract from the District website. This agreement was signed in October of 2008 and runs from 7/1/09 to 6/30/14. Section 1.4 deals with “Subcontracting” which allows the District, under certain parameters, to contract out certain functions. Those parameters include adherence to Act 195 or any law or regulation that may supersede it… What’s Act 195?…don’t know and it’s above my pay grade of $0.00 BUT it tells me there’s a process that must be followed it the District is going to consider Subcontracting. It also tells me that this possibility was discussed 4 years ago. Formation of a committee is one way to begin that process I assume. The Key is to allow for public view and discussion once the issue framed out so that we can all understand it…pro and con. It was a budget strategy last year for the janitorial staff which was resolved as I alluded to above. I would have liked to hear more public input at that time but the item/issue was removed by a separate agreement.
    It will be an interesting discussion if it becomes a potential strategy. Like last year, it may be resolved in a private negotiation. On one hand, there’s a financial impact which could be pretty sizable and on the other side are issues like the ones you mention. I tend to look through the financial prism first so I may feel the “gravity” of cost savings initially…probably why you asked me the question. That’s why public discussion is so important…I want to know what YOU think? Both sides of the issue will have significant merit and hopefully, as a community, the right choice is made. Without all the factors being fully developed, it’s impossible to evaluate the strategy. My thoughts about the committee are that at least the process has begun..or will begin. Your reference to morale of certain employee groups juxtaposed against other members of the District staff having received raises…totally valid concern. I wound think those groups would have a chance to speak with this committee through their representatives before the issue is formatted for public consumption.
    One note on this issue’s timing: at Monday’s Finance Committee meeting, the timing of this discussion seems to be Fall 2013. While it’s listed as a budget item for 2013-14, it doesn’t appear that the process will be done before next year’s budget is adopted. That leaves next year’s budget with a $3.2 MM funding imbalance (after accepted budget strategies to date) which will be funded via Act 1 tax increases of $1.5 MM and Fund Balance contribution of $1.7 MM. That will change as the budget process continues. This is the current budget discussion. With projected spending this budget cycle at $107 MM and next year’s projected spending currently at $114 MM…I’d sure like to see additional cost savings strategies enter the conversation. Is out-sourcing the best cost saving strategy? Don’t know. Best we can do is watch and read the information in the public domain. Are there other better strategies? I hope so, we’d sure like to see one of these budgets balance within a reasonable tax scenario.
    Have a great day.

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    This is what I think Neal, thanks for asking.

    I think the board is trying to establish a negotiating point with this segment for talks down the road. I’ll be surprised if these jobs are sub contracted out. I think the administrator salary increase gives the teachers a leg to stand on in their upcoming salary negotiations. I think the administrators know this. I don’t think the taxpayer is fairly represented.

    I think the approval of administrative salary increases without public view was wrong, especially when forming a committee to consider outsourcing jobs for secretaries, maintenance workers and cafeteria workers a week later. I think all of these decisions breed discontent.

    Cowardly Anonymous Reply:

    On what do you conclude that the salaries are “so generous”. One purpose of compensation is retention in addition to merit. Having a pension is extraordinarily generous to the job skills required to do one of the non- instructional jobs…and they have no merit associated with their compensation…good get paid the same as the less good. admins have annual reviews and merit. And certifications required to do their jobs. Examine the real numbers, not the concept. Person by person is available…and they are individually paid. Teachers are part of a group…and take no hit for mediocrity. Custodians are hard working, but fungible assets as well. There is a market price for their services, and it would not include a 20% retirement cost and a $15,000 health care plan. This stuff is complicated…not superficial.

    [Reply]

  10. TR

    Just a point of clarification. The “process” of “extreme negativity” I am referring to is THIS BLOG. As for the rest of your illogical rant, I won’t bother. People can decide for themselves who is clear and who is “all over the place” as you put it.

    Goodbye

    [Reply]

    TR Reply:

    ——————
    As for the rest of your illogical rant
    —————–

    Right, I’m illogical. I look at ALL of the facts, not ignoring ones that are inconvienent. And yet you are calling me illogical. Kevin, I think you have a very warped ethic and moral value system. Somebody in law enforcement who needs absolute trust to effectively do their job lies and is dismissed from his police command. And yet you think he is somebody of trust. You come to that conclusion by IGNORING the fact he lied. You are dillusional Kevin.

    [Reply]

  11. Kevin,

    I agree with your point that people can decide for themselves. I support TRs’ views. They are well presented. They are logical, reasoned and they state the facts as we know them.

    [Reply]

  12. Here is what I know: these issues are market driven. The reference to the bloated salaries for administrators is baseless. There is a market value on their jobs. An administrator who was originally a teacher at the high school and went through our admin development program is leaving to be head of the Upper School at Episcopal. Since that means he gives up PSERS for years out of the public sector, he presumably is making a career decision and salary and benefits are part of that. The credentials for administrators (including state certifications as well as advanced degrees) creates a demand for administrators. Any raise they receive should reflect that in the market. It is not hypothetical.

    Likewise–hardworking non-instructional staff have market equivalents. Is it fair that there are more people qualified to be a secretary than there are jobs for those people? no. And really good employees are not likely to face termination…but as long as non- instructional people are paid on a union contract, then merit had no place…and the cost of retirement contributions (upwards of 20% of salary) over the next few years serves as an incentive to look at alternatives. This is precisely the same reason the TTBOS are not hiring more police…they are forced to examine alternatives to the traditional model and consider options that do not bind the taxpayers to costs associated with a contract, not just a job.

    [Reply]

  13. WE the People (didn’t you used to be NSN?)

    “Keith and Cowardly,

    What kind of Board of Education approves raises in these times of layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts and district money woes. How can our elected officials justify this action when money for school programs is so tight? Since full disclosure is so lacking I’m taking a guess, but I don’t think the administrators were beating down any doors trying to procure higher salaries for themselves.

    The school board members are elected officials. It is their responsibility to safeguard the funds of TESD for the students of TESD. ”

    What kind? The kind of Board of Education that safeguards the TESD…. Administrators are not fluff, nor are they easy to find. Keith is correct in his figures, and is also correct in that there are many openings for these jobs. No one was beating down any doors for a big raise, but there is are components of compensation related to retention as well as to reward.

    If you have a problem with the market driving up costs for administrators, talk to the state legislators. These jobs require certifications beyond teaching certificates. There is not a big pool of qualified applicants. Likewise, if their salaries do not keep pace with teaching salaries (meaning 15-20% above at a minimum), almost every single one of them can return to the teaching ranks (they still have tenure) and cut their work year and work day substantially under contract. And reminder as it is now — the pension is based on highest years, not final years….so they can pop back to teaching and still get pensions on their admin salaries….

    For those interested, check out the new proposals related to maximizing pension benefits…and get ready to lose a whole, whole bunch of administrators at the same time Dr. Waters has said he will retire….before the proposed changes are scheduled to kick in.

    “February 5, 2013
    Message from PSERS Executive Director Jeffrey B. Clay

    Today Governor Corbett unveiled his 2013-2014 state budget proposal. In his address he laid out his plan for additional pension reform, which includes potential changes to active member benefits not yet earned. These proposed changes would not take effect until July 1, 2015. The Governor’s proposal does not impact retired member benefits.”
    http://www.psers.state.pa.us/ for links to the proposals.

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    Cowardly,

    I don’t believe we would have created a retention problem had the board not approved raises for the administrators.

    As for the rest, your argument takes the focus off my main point, which is the unnecessary and unwise decision to approve raises, hidden and slipped in a consent agenda, without public view or discussion and shifts it to the market driven labor costs of administrators which you now tell me are profoundly influenced by state legislators. State legislators were not here demanding that the TESD approve raises to the administrators. I think this decision was more influenced by the Board of Directors and the Administrators themselves.

    I was NSN.

    [Reply]

    Cowardly Anon Reply:

    “Cowardly,
    I don’t believe we would have created a retention problem had the board not approved raises for the administrators”

    Well, I do believe it. Working in TESD is not exactly cushy….because expectations are high. But just wait and see — if the governor’s pension reforms get approved, many admins making over $120K and eligible for a pension will leave, and we’ll see how they fill the jobs.

    Demand — high. Supply – limited. Education: Masters and beyond. Experience: typically were master teachers before entering administration. So look at steps 10+ of the teacher’s schedule at M+60 or PhD…and compare THAT to their salary. And look at the last raise they go and when.

    [Reply]

  14. Well WTP — I do not agree, which is why I posted what I did. The decision was obviously influenced by the board and the administrators — they are the parties in play. What else would influence it. Market forces are FACTS that influence decisions.
    I had complained about the consent agenda as the process, but regardless, Keith’s numbers and the PSEA’s Help Wanted ledger bear out that he TESD admins are not overpaid, and retention is achieved by being prudent, not by reacting. So your main point is not my main point, which is this random reference to unnecessary raises without any facts. I pointed out that one administrator is leaving for a job at Episcopal TE has been very good at retaining admins and does not overpay to do so, to my knowledge, with the possible exception of the Superintendent, whose salary benefitted by a previous board’s overzealous efforts to retain him.
    I am aware of every admin background and salary, and I would not begin to second guess performance, which is why I think a flat amount distributed by the Superintendent is a good compromise way of rewarding and retaining good people. Would I pay what we pay? Not person by person perhaps, but admins are rated on performance. there are a bunch of higher paid teachers who would not be my choice either.
    So — what else SHOULD influence compensation besides performance, job description, and retention goals?

    Consent agenda? Nope. But then again, look at how few people care about it.

    [Reply]

  15. How can people care about something they don’t know anything about? And if the administrators don’t think people care, why do they go to such great lenghs to hide what they do?

    I often wonder what would happen if someone compiled a list of the salaries and benefits of administrators… and teachers for that matter, and delivered them to every mailbox in this district. If nothing happened, only then would I believe you when you repeatedly talk about how few people care.

    [Reply]

  16. Market forces did not influence the decision to give raises to administrators in these tough economic times of layoffs, pay cuts, furloughs and dire, dire financial woes.

    [Reply]

  17. Because you think it doesn’t make it so. Market forces influence retention. WHY would someone stay as an administrator when the teacher salary schedule catches up without the same work year or work day? And like it or not, Keith said it above — plenty of districts have searches going on. Were the raises necessary? stop acting like they were extraordinary.
    Go ahead and compile the list. Of course people would be upset — people are always upset when they assume something (that administrators are like clerks in a store) and find out to the contrary.
    Not sure where the bitterness comes from, but the reality is that supply and demand set price. If you want to learn about the process, follow Downingtown and Great Valley and Radnor superintendent history….who works for them, where they used to work, how long they stayed, and what they made at not only the current district, but the previous one. In one case, the Superintendent was hired at twice what he made at the job he held within 3 years of being hired. And each time these people were hired, they left mid-contract or came from zero experience….when you have a problem in the school, exactly who do you go to?

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    I’m following Radnor Superintendent search page. It’s purpose is to keep all members of the public informed. Very impressive!

    “The district received OVER 25 applications from HIGHLY qualified administrators from across the tri-state area.”

    “A total of 12 focus groups were held with teachers, support staff, principals, central office administration, students, community leaders, parents and the community at large. Based on focus group participant comments and discussion, a candidate profile was developed. The search team is now in the process of matching the candidate profile with the applicants.”

    Dr. Grobman was there 4 years and left for a position in private industry. She accomplished much.

    This all sounds good to me.

    [Reply]

    Cowardly Anonymous Reply:

    Glad they didn’t search for a principal….and that all their applicants were highly qualified. Jobs paying over $200k tend to attract interest. Good process for them. Glad they are involving stakeholders this time.

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    I agree, good process for them and any school district in the same situation. Check out the Avon Grove Parent website. Their supt., Dr. Massaro, announced on 1/24/13 that he would be stepping down effective Oct, 31, 2013. From what I gather from the parent website, this community group is very interested in participating in the search for a new supt.

    The people of these school districts not only do not seem upset by these developments, they seem eager, motivated, prepared and determined to not only have a voice but play an active role in the search process.

  18. Im just wondering why the citizenry, or some anyway is making such a big deal out of this.. 43, 39, 42 officers? Except for the money spent on the report, 50K I think it was said, why should we care about the minutiae of this? Why not leave it up to the professionals and elected BOS to deal with this? Especially considering crime is apparently down in TT? have we nothing better to do than not trust our people?
    Why was there even a consultation report? Was the board pressured into it?

    [Reply]

  19. http://schoolspending.wordpress.com/2010/02/05/if-its-broken-its-time-to-fix-it-school-finances/

    Dr. Grobman will leave with 37 years in education, with a 90+% pension based on her 3 highest years…which I’m guessing came at Radnor. Dr. DeFlaminis left in 2003..,there have been 4 people in the job in that time period. 2 interim (now a 3rd interim after march 30) and 2 contracts. Read histories of surrounding districts from 2010.

    Of the 25 highly qualified applicants, I wonder how many are looking for a new challenge, or more money. Retention?

    [Reply]

  20. Highly qualified tends to mean “already have a job”…which makes my point about retention.

    [Reply]

    We the People Reply:

    The shooting and killing of the two Bernese Mountain dogs in West Vincent township is disturbing, tragic and very sad. I am sorry for the owners and family members who are experiencing this horrific act of violence on defenseless animals.

    Logic would dicatate then that………….assuming what Keith reported on this thread on Feb. 14th at 2:42 is true, that TE is in the middle of the pack for administrator salaries , administrators from other districts whose salaries are below TE salaries would apply for a position in our school district if a position were to open up due to an opening caused by a TE administrator moving to Lower Merion or Great Valley which pay even higher salaries than TE.

    I’m sure they are highly qualified and would do a good job filling the vacant position. Or we could hire from within like many teacher posters on this website have suggested. Either way, we would be just fine.

    [Reply]

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