This Issue is not only Tennis Courts … It’s accountability from elected officials

It is likely that many in our community were not aware of last week’s drama over the planned demolition of the two tennis courts at Valley Forge Elementary School this past Saturday. Through the efforts of many neighborhood members, the courts received a temporary “stay of execution” to allow for further discussion.  However, getting the School Board Directors to call off the bulldozers at the ninth hour did not come easily or without a political tug-of-war between the School District and Tredyffrin Township.  In the end, the issue wasn’t about a few neighbors crying foul over the proposed demise of their local tennis courts. From my vantage point, this problem has more to do when elected officials and administrators choose to ignore the voices of the community until the situation borders on explosive.

For those that are unaware of what I’m talking about, here’s the brief overview.  Tredyffrin Township, on Tredyffrin Easttown School District property, constructed the tennis courts at Valley Forge Elementary School and until 2009, maintained the two courts.  In 2009, the Township decided they no longer wanted to maintain the courts and requested that the School District take over maintenance.  However, according to TESD business manager, Art McDonnell, the District has never maintained the tennis courts.

The District’s 2008 parking study concluded the need for additional parking spaces at Valley Forge Elementary School — requiring the expansion of the existing lot.  I need to point out that the parking lot and its planned expansion is located in the front of the elementary school whereas the tennis courts are in the back of the property.  The expansion of the VFES parking would not include the property where the tennis courts are located.

The obvious question to ask … why demolish the tennis courts if the parking lot expansion is not close to the courts. It was the view of the School Board that they could trade the increased impervious coverage and storm water requirements of the new parking area with the removal of the tennis courts.  The Board believed that this approach would reduce the parking lot project costs and save taxpayer money.  McDonnell claimed that there was an agreement between the District and the Township in this regard.

Shortly before last week’s School Board meeting, Glenhardie neighbors to Valley Forge Elementary School were notified of Saturday’s planned demolition of the tennis courts.  Representing her neighbors, township resident Rosemary Kait appealed to the School Board Directors to delay the demolition pending further discussion. Based on the discussion, it appeared that the demolition was required by the township to meet storm water requirement for the parking lot expansion project.  Kait left the School Board meeting and went  to the Board of Supervisors meeting, seeking  resolution.

As the clock ticked down to Saturday’s ‘Demolition Day’, there was a flurry of activity with phone calls and emails from the residents to the School Board and administration as well as the township manager and Board of Supervisors. What quickly developed was a ‘Tale of Two Cities’ – with Art McDonnell claiming that the Township required the demolition of the tennis courts to meet storm water requirements for the expanded parking lot.  Township Manager Bill Martin and Township Engineer Steve Burgo countered McDonnell’s claims, stating that the removal of the tennis courts would not reduce the storm water requirements of the additional parking spaces.

In a press release from the Township, Martin takes issue with the way the District is presenting the situation to the public, and states that the District’s “… statement implies the Township requirements ‘force’ you to remove the courts”.  Martin suggests, “The District could have easily gone to the ZHB (Zoning Hearing Board) for zoning relief to impervious coverage limit.”

As McDonnell and Martin issued their statements on behalf of the District and Township respectfully, the residents worked behind the scenes – appealing directly to members of the School Board and the Board of Supervisors.  Copied on many of the email exchanges, I learned that these tennis courts are regularly used, not just by neighbors but by children in PTO sponsored after-school tennis programs.  I also learned that the tennis courts are currently in very good condition; but not because the courts are maintained by either the District or the Township.  For several years, at no cost to the Township or District the neighbors have actually maintained the tennis courts.

Believing that there had to be a better solution than demolition, (like a ZHB variance), all the residents were simply asking for delay for further discussion.  Although some have suggested that the proposed demolition of the tennis courts is not political, you cannot escape the fact that the president of the School Board Kevin Buraks (D) and chair of the Board of Supervisors Michelle Kichline (R) are completing their first terms and now seek re-election to the School Board and BOS, respectfully.  Clearly caught in the midst of this tug-of-war and finger-pointing, the residents planned a 7 AM ‘Save our Tennis Courts” rally.

Supportive of the residents, I planned to attend their early morning rally.  Acutely aware that the School District owns the property and therefore has the right to demolish the tennis courts, I believed that further discussion could produce an acceptable alternative to bulldozing. Very late on Friday night, School Board president Kevin Buraks notified the neighbors of the Board’s decision to delay the demolition, pending further discussion.  The next monthly TESD meeting is Monday, April 22.

Bottom line … in my opinion, much of the drama over the demolition of the tennis courts and the ninth hour decision to delay could have been avoided.  How?  Residents deserve better communication and accountability from elected officials.  I am troubled by (1) the lack of adequate notification of the District to VFES neighbors of the demolition; (2) misrepresentation or confusion of the related facts (I suggest that you read the conflicting  Township press release and the School District’s response) and (3) the overall feeling from residents of unresponsiveness from the School Board and administration.

Normally, I do not comment on Ray Hoffman’s column in Main Line Media News, but I take issue with his characterization of the threatened tennis court demolition.  In this week’s column, Hoffman says, “… the recent flak from neighbors over the scheduled demolition of the two tennis courts at Valley Forge Elementary School is Shakespearean at its best, “much ado about nothing,” or an inventive modification of the NIMBY “law” at its worst.”

Mr. Hoffman, I could not disagree more … the proposed tennis court demolition is about much more than about ‘nothing’.  It is about accountability and transparency from our elected officials.  It is about the public’s trust for fairness from our government.  It is about those elected to serve listening to our concerns and working with us for acceptable solutions.  Poor accountability erodes our trust.

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  1. Traveling overseas makes you very grateful for the rights we take for granted and for western democracy, even if returning to recent CM blog posts highlights how imperfect that is.

    The demolition of these tennis courts was discussed at a couple of Facilities Committee meetings a while ago (not sure if it made it into Committee reports to the Board), and there was sufficient information presented at the time to make me think it was sensible to remove the tennis courts in order to limit additional impervious coverage (Glenhardie residents don’t need any more storm water!) from the construction of much needed parking at VFES. Looks like I could have thought more deeply.

    I don’t recall any indication that the courts were actively used, nor whether the Committee asked any probing questions about that or laid down any communication requirements.

    Perhaps this situation does suggest a requirement for the next generation of Board members that is being discussed in other comment threads.

    Maybe it is not financial skills, or children in the system or not in the system, or degrees in education, etc., that we should look for. Maybe a Board member needs outstanding questioning, communication and decision-making skills.

    We should look for the ability to tease out all the ramifications (on all the constituencies) of actions the Administration is proposing. Our ideal Board member should constantly be thinking about communication – both from and to the district (listening to our active and qualified community makes the job easier!) This has become more and more important as the internet enables interest groups to get organized so easily. And finally we need the ability to make quick, fact-based, objective, quantitative decisions.

    It’s a demanding assignment. I wonder what the various candidates will have to say about their qualifications for the above? Can we distinguish between them on those bases?

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    I agree that we need board members with outstanding questioning, communication and decision making abilitities. We need board members who do not isolate themselves from the community. We need board members who are decisive leaders who do not lean on or look to administrators to make decisions.

    We need board members to serve community members, to listen to community members, to inform community members. Board members should be in service to the tax payer.

    This does not have to be a demanding assignment. Effective communication with the community and decisive leadership from the board would go a long way in keeping matters running smoothly and efficiently without the last minute drama and chaos caused by community members who are uniformed and confused.

    [Reply]

    Cowardly Anon Reply:

    “Effective communication with the community and decisive leadership”

    Translation: Telling you whatever you want to know and making the decisions you agree with. Or let’s just rely on the admin comp decision, made this way for 10 years, as our template for turmoil.

    Note: It wasn’t on the consent agenda when I was on the board. And I have complained for several years when it was there. But I was apparently the only one and was unable to get it moved. All you have to do is read the agenda and you can see it is there.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    When we can’t balance the budget and the administrators grant themselves raises and bonuses within 2 weeks of announcing the formation of a committee to consider out sourcing support staff, I would call this a legitimate reason for concern, not a template for turmoil.

    I believe that as a tax payer, I have the right to ask questions and to have the question answered. I believe that if citizens click on new comment section to the right, they can come to their own conclusions about who is angry and who is not angry.

    Even though you don’t live here and you don’t pay taxes here, I appreciate your comment because it keeps the converstion going and it serves to educate new readers on the very important upcoming issues regarding our community.

  2. Patty,

    The people Of GlenHardie are learning what many of us already know.

    1.) lack of adequate notification – In this case it was the demolition of tennis courts. Reading back over past threads, GH residents can learn about the hidden raises and bonuses slipped and hidden in a consent agenda in hopes parents and community members would not find out.

    2.)misrepresentation and confusion of facts – When asking questions about decisions by the board and administrators that make no sense, community members are told, Because this is the way we’ve always done it. Because we’ve done it this way for the past 30 years.

    3.) the overall feeling of unresponsiveness from administrators and board members – A community member who attends most finance committee meetings was recently told the committee doesn’t give information out about the budget because they don’t want a “hornets nest” and they don’t “want signs” at their meetings.

    These actions and responses from our board and our administrators are unacceptable. This is just the latest chapter in a continuing saga of elected officials not serving the public they were elected to serve.

    I encourage the people Of GH to look over past threads and become acquainted with some of the decisions our elected officials have made. You will see more of the same.

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  3. I encourage people to read what Ray wrote. No one anticipated any backlash.
    Having said that, we all need to come to terms with the influence of not only internet communications, but citizen journalism. You can rile up a group of people over any issue. While I might have handled this differently (and we can be assured Phil Hooper would have) as a Facilities chair, the fact is — despite the obfuscation from the township — that they have impervious coverage issues. For them to suggest that removing the tennis courts was not their idea and that the district could have gotten a variance is another reaching into the pocket of the school district to solve a problem that the township is fully aware of. TESD is located in two townships, and it’s not like they can move anyplace else. The township requires stormwater management (unless you are a developer bringing potential revenue?) and as Ray wrote above, the tennis courts seemed like an efficient way to meet the township requirements.
    Now — let’s talk about a variance and how easy they are to get. Not easy. Not free. So instead of spending tax dollars on lawyers to go apply to township boards for stormwater management variances, they decided in a public meeting to remove tennis courts. HAD this been a big issue, someone might have cared enough to make it one.

    I have an issue with the perspective here — the long-fought “deal is a deal” lament over the St. Davids sidewalk is relevant here. The township and the school district had a deal that involved applying the tennis court area for increasing impervious surface. I don’t really care what the township releases. The fact is a fact: The district applied to expand parking area and Mimi Gleason agreed that the tennis courts, which were originally township managed, were a good option.

    SO — I’m glad it all got stopped if in fact people have another solution. But let’s not pretend that it is lack of transparency that created this drama. What created this drama is lack of interest. Ray — do you recall the date of the meeting? Are the minutes for that meeting online?

    And SL — I guess you will carry this anger forever. All I can say is that “in my day” we had to have a hornet’s nest for anyone to show up. … and the indignation was always the same. Everyone always thought it was a backroom deal. Well — the main meeting was the same as a back room….no one came. And here we have Ray Clarke, a regular CM contributor saying he was present for this discussion.

    Instead of always looking for a “gotcha” moment, maybe residents can rethink the notion of Community. And imagine — WHY would anyone want the resume proposed for a board member? I don’t agree with many of the sitting board’s decision, but I truly believe their attitude evolves over time because of the constant berating from those who pop in every so often and flash their indignation.

    This blog is a serious contribution to the communication, but when the purpose of making something public is to also second guess how and why it was handled, I’m not sure it does much more than fan the flames.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    I have reviewed all Facilities Meeting minutes on the TESD website back to August 24, 2012 and find no reference to the VFES tennis court demolition. That is not to say, that the demolition was not discussed at a Facilities meeting but it does not appear to have been included in the meeting minutes. For some reason, access is denied to the October 19, 2012 Facilities Meeting minutes so perhaps that it ‘may’ have been discussed then. I know there are those that will say that residents need to attend the committee meeting but for the record, Facilities Committee meetings are held at 2 PM. Personally, I count on Ray Clarke’s attendance so perhaps he will be able to help us understand when this matter was discussed. The point for me is that the residents most affected were given little notification prior to the School Board meeting but did manage to have a representative (Rosemary Kait) attend who voiced concern on behalf of the neighbors and to explain that the courts were regularly used (and maintained) not only by the neighbors but by after-school programs.

    Your comment seems to suggest that the information supplied by the Township Manager and Township Engineer was incorrect — and that the District was correct in their stance that there was an arrangement with the Township to remove the tennis courts in exchange for the impervious coverage storm water requirement. Who exactly are the residents to believe — there are 2 press releases, District vs Township – Art McDonnell vs Bill Martin. This is not about a ‘gotcha’ moment and I take issue with you characterizing it that way — residents sought answers to the questions re the tennis court demolition. The District pointed its finger at the Township and then the Township countered that the District was incorrect.

    I have a REAL PROBLEM with the following:

    This blog is a serious contribution to the communication, but when the purpose of making something public is to also second guess how and why it was handled, I’m not sure it does much more than fan the flames.

    At each meeting of the School Board, the residents are encouraged to attend and participate in the process. But what’s the point of us participating, if your view is that all we do is “fan the flames”. WOW –In my world, it’s called democracy and freedom of speech to express opinion.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    If it’s not a lack of transparency, then why did the business manager wait until the 11th hour to send e-mails to glenhardie residents? Why send e-mails at all if it was discussed in committee?

    No one is looking for a “gotcha moment” We would simply like some transparency, some accountability, some decency and some respect.

    The board members attitude evolves over time, not because citizens pop in every so often and flash their indignation, but because board members rely heavily on administrator interpretation of how things work thereby giving administrators a tremendous amount of power to make decisions that board members should be making.

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    CHV Reply:

    The Old Lancaster RD neighbors got letters dated March 19 for a house demo on March 23..snow delayed the project until the 26.

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    Cowardly Anon Reply:

    CHV — promise me you would have stepped up had it happened this way in the olden days. We all miss Phil.

    Cowardly Anonymous Reply:

    The miracles of technology…good part is I don’t have to hear it at the ACME…but using the blind squirrel analogy…we agree on this topic. It’s ironic that the neighbors just a few blocks away spent an inordinate amount of effort to prevent the school from developing the land adjacent to VFMS which had been deeded for “future recreational use” into athletic fields…and that was in response to an informational meeting to explain what was planned. NIMBY indeed.

    The era of discontent continues.

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  4. You need to good back to the Faciliites agenda for the May & June 2012 meetings. Detailed explainations.map and contract proposals for the VFES parking lot.
    I have the orginal paperwork as well as the Draft copy of the 2008 Summary of Parking Needs…

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thanks CHV, I went back to April 2012 and found the following related information from Facilities Committee meeting minutes available on the TESD website:

    Facilities Meeting, April 20, 2012: Meeting Minutes
    Mr. Tom Daley, the District’s architect, was asked by the Committee to prepare a drawing showing the removal of the Valley Forge Elementary School tennis courts and the addition of parking spaces at Valley Forge Elementary School. Currently the tennis courts at Valley Forge are operated and maintained by Tredyffrin Township however they are owned by the School District. The Administration will meet with the Township to discuss the courts and additional
    parking on the property.

    Facilities Meeting, May 11, 2012
    There was probably further discussion (and possible map?) of the VFES tennis courts and parking lot project, but cannot locate the minutes on the TESD website.

    Facilities Meeting, June 8, 2012: Meeting Minutes
    Mr. Daley presented the proposal from Chester Valley Engineers for engineering and surveying services and Daley & Jalboot Architect fees for the proposed parking lot project at VFES. Chester Valley Engineers’ proposed fees are $30,000. Daley & Jalboot proposed Architects’ fees are $12,000. Mr. Daley will complete the documentation needed to have the project bid on and will complete Township building permits. The Committee asked that this item be place on the Board’s next consent agenda for Board approval.

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  5. I too get the sense the TTDEM’s don’t care who their candidate is or what he/she stands for. The fact that the D is behind the name seems to be the most and only important thing to them.

    The school board disclosed this matter 9 months ago and yes no GlenHardie residents were in attendance at the committee meeting. Had they known what was on the agenda, would they have been there? My guess is yes.

    When something this personal and this valued to a neighborhood is on the table for demolition, I believe the e-mail should have been sent at the time of discussion. I believe the e-mail was sent out days before the start of spring break (when many residents are away) and days before the scheduled demolition because the administrators and board of directors had high hopes of getting this done without neighborhood involvement.

    So technically it is not a referendum on transparency and accountability. And, you’re right, the district has the power to remove them, no matter what the public says. (one resident did say she would lock herself to the court gate) but in the end, the will of the people prevailed. This is what the people have to remember. Ultimately it is the will of the people and not the power of the administrators and the Board of Directors that can prevail.

    We need leadership that reflects the will and the interests of the people of this community. The only way to get that is to vote out the incumbants and communicate with new elected officials.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Personally, being a part of this community, I think she would have chained herself to the gate.

    I would appreciate it if members of the GlenHardie community would post their experiences regarding this issue. I am interested to hear from you and reading about the events that led up to this action. The GlenHardie Community has gotten more accomplished in the least amount of time from this group of people than I have ever seen. Please share you stories.

    [Reply]

  6. So, the Township built tennis courts on property owned by the School District next to VFMS. I am guessing VFMS doesnt have a tennis team or need for the courts.

    Township doesnt want to maintain them anymore. VFMS has no use for or need for tennis courts, and no fluff in the budget to maintain a project it never built . . .

    Unless and until the land becomes part of a township park, not clear at least to me why the neigbhors (or anybody else) thinks they have a right to keep those tennis courts or prevent their removal if thats what the School Board determines is a desirable course. Township doesnt want to maintain them anymore, and the School Board doesnt want to pick up the incremental expense, for an improvement that doesnt advance the mission of VFMS.

    I dont see the controversy here. Remove the courts already. If there werent courts there at present, and the school board proposed building some, I think there would be a hue and cry over the expense as misplaced in light of budgetary constraints.

    M.A.

    [Reply]

  7. Many of the parents at VFES have been talking about the removal of the courts for many months now. My understanding is that the previous impervious space taken by the courts will be grass area where the students will finally have space to play soccer and football. There is not much open space in the back of the school during recess for these games as it is taken up by playground equipment and blacktop. The soccer field they use now is on a 15 degree slope towards the one side so it really make for an interesting game to watch!

    [Reply]

  8. Mad,

    The tennis courts are located at VFES, not VFMS. There are wait lists every day full of names of kids who want to play in after school clinics. The list fills up the moment the clinic times and dates are announced.

    There is a world ranked professional and former Davis cup player who lives in the neighborhood willing to conduct kids clinics in order to raise money for the maintainence of the courts.

    TE Patch interviewed Marie Thomas, tennis director at UMLY which maintains a dozen outdoor courts. The cost of maintainence is not that high.

    How much are 24 parking spots going to cost. My guess is hundreds of thousands of dollars. How much does it cost to maintain these additional spaces. My guess is more than the cost of 2 tennis courts.

    I agree with John when he says this is a NIMBY issue. I nor my family uses the courts anymore so I’m not all that motivated to take a strong stand.

    I also agree with John’s point on the the Andy Chambers matter. We couldn’t get that reversed but late night phone calls to the school board president saves the tennis courts?

    The will of the people prevails when a group organizes, has passion about the issue and pushes through until their demands are met……..no matter what the issue is………

    [Reply]

  9. Following up on “Tennis Court Gate” (thanks John). it’s recommended that I need to find a ‘new cause’, that the tennis courts at VFES are located on school district property and therefore the neighbors have no claim over them. It’s suggested that the proposed tennis court demolition is nothing more than a NIMBY issue and not worthy of attention.

    I admit a fascination at what moves people to action. In the case of the tennis courts, in just a matter of a few days, VFES neighbors were able to get a stay of execution. Albeit, the demolition may be temporary but at least their collective voices were heard, allowing for further discussion. Sure, the neighbors of VFES had a vested interest in the courts; it’s their backyard,they use them and apparently have helped maintain them.

    We have seen that if people ban together for a common cause they can get results. The tennis courts at VFES only matters to a select few yet; issues affecting many more residents, such as burying raises of administrators in a consent agenda, hiring of Andy Chambers or outsourcing of T/E support staff pass by without much debate. It is troubling that tennis courts on District property can achieve a positive reaction yet more important issues go by seemingly unnoticed.

    Some would like to say that the School Board is not political but their actions in regards to the tennis court issue suggest otherwise. Calling off the demolition was a political decision – the Board had the right to demolish the courts; they didn’t need the OK from the neighbors. But on this issue, the Board chose to listen to the residents (voters). Why pick this issue? Is it because school board directors and township supervisor have now announced their candidacy for the Board and BOS.. I admit, I just don’t get it.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    ” …you allowed yourself to get sucked into a matter where a lot of facts are not known.

    We as citizens, don’t have a direct say in those matters. AND – the school board has properly delegated those responsibilities.

    So … the District handled this issue appropriately and the community should not have questioned their decisions.

    [Reply]

    shining light Reply:

    There was no legal error here but. I think citizens have the right to question decisions local officials (administrators) make.

    Good for the residents of GH. They showed us that when citizens ban together tor a common cause, the will of the people can prevail. Either that, or the TTDem committee person John mentioned used her political clout with the president of the school board to get a stay on the demolition. I hope the latter is not true. The fact that she chose to make such a big ruckus over this and not administrator raise and bonuses hidden and slipped in a consent agenda, andy chambers hired as a consultant and the formation of a committee to investigate outsourcing ad a means to balance the budget

    [Reply]

    shining light Reply:

    Is extremely disappointing.

    [Reply]

    From A Distance Reply:

    I think there is a bigger issue that has been completely missed. In reading all of the posts, not one grateful comment on VFES being able to FINALLY accommodate day-to-day staff parking needs. I say that in jest. The parking study that the school district bases the “need” on is 5 years old. Obviously, it hasn’t been a pressing need. In the mean time, FTEs/staff have been reduced throughout the district. Is there really a need for the school district, currently facing a huge funding gap in the budget discussions, to spend yet more money on bricks and mortar? The taxpayers already built Walker Rd. & Anthony Wayne Dr. where there is plenty of free parking.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    FaD,

    I have often thought the same. We can’t balance the budget, we’re considering the outsourcing of a whole segment of employees yet we’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a 24 parking space plan that has been in the works for 5 years.

    However, If there is a safety issue as “me” has described, we need to take that into consideration. Maybe this is what John means when he talks about lots of points that Pattye is missing.

    Have any children or staff been hurt in the past 5 to 10 years because there are not enough parking spaces?

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    I don’t always agree with the position Pattye takes, but she provides a valuable service to the community – a place where people can learn about and discuss the issues. The alternative is silence and that would be unfortunate.

    [Reply]

    shining light Reply:

    What do you mean by that?

    [Reply]

    Me Reply:

    The staff park in the field when the parking lot fills up- every day. The courts are on school property, mere feet away from the playground. Isn’t that a safety issue as well?

    [Reply]

  10. Just goes to show you that you can’t please all the people all the time, even when our faulty government is doing the right thing, legally and procedurally

    [Reply]

  11. I remember an andy griffith episode where AUnt Bee was running against Howard for town council. All Aunt bee had to say was “if its the will of the people”.. Howard gave smart salient points about why a community action should be done a certain way. In the end, Aunt Bee came to recognize the will of the people was incorrectly formulated. Financially and practically. Just think its funny how life imitates “art”. There are many wills of the people. Tough to govern in a true democracy, which we aren’t and shouldnt be..Sorry if this seems “funny”..

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Fan,

    Let me tell you about a book by Barry Friedman called the “Will of the People.” The fact that you can recite in detail an episode of a sitcom popular in the 1960’s, is a clear sign to me that you have no idea who Barry Friedman is nor do you have any idea of his book.

    Barry is a law professor at NYU School of Law. His book is about How Public Opinion Has Influences the Supreme Court and shaped the Meaning of the Constitution. Maybe you could pull yourself away from listening to Aunt Bee’s take on TWofTP and consider what Barry has to say about it. But then again, maybe not.

    The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government and to protect it’s free expression should be our first object.

    Thomas Jefferson said that Fan. He was our third president. You might want to read about him too. I recommend the book John Adams. It’s a fascinating read on Adams and Jefferson. Did you know they both died on the same day……..the 4th of July. My bet is you did not. If you can tear yourself away from the pearls of Aunt Bee, maybe you could give Adams, Jefferson and Barry a try.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    This comment made me laugh out loud — thanks :)

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    I’ll take Aunt Bee Shining..

    [Reply]

  12. The staff has been parking in the field when the spots fill up- every day. The courts are on school property. How does that fit in with safety concerns?

    [Reply]

  13. OK, I am going to say this, and I am sure I will hear some nasty comments. This battle is not about the tennis courts, this is about the miss management of funds at T/E. They like so many other school districts are not real clear on how the money is spent, and year after year property owners are being asked to pay more and more taxes, and year after year a big portion of that money is not paying for education as it is for benefits (Pension plan being the biggest problem) and salary!!!! Some light needs to shine in!!!!

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thanks for this comment. Here’s something I have wondered about — each year we see our taxes go up but in November last year, TESD announced a mysterious $3.9 million budget surplus. Here’s the CM link: http://pattyebenson.org/2012/11/13/te-school-district-surplus-3-8-million-in-201213-budget/ Although some of the surplus was due insurance savings, the public never received a clear-cut explanation as to what caused the budget to be off that dramatically (but yet we received a tax increase). What troubles me is the timing of the $3.9 Million surplus — the announcement appeared immediately FOLLOWING the signing of the teachers contract. I discovered something very interesting about TESD administrator salaries — the next post on CM may open some eyes, I know it did mine!

    [Reply]

    version Reply:

    Funny thing about that voting you talk about, I do vote, and everything remains the same!!! Very aggravating!

    [Reply]

  14. Follow the money….but don’t pretend to understand things if you can’t do that. Shining — whatever your grudge, you are a card carrying member of the proletariat. No amount of complaining about what others have or do will change that. Only YOU can change that. And Friedman is clear that the court walks the fine line between respecting the WILL OF THE MAJORITY and preserving minority rights. What you I believe you are missing Shining LIght (on what) is that the local boards do the same thing….and the notion of protecting tennis courts most assuredly falls into the minority camp. The Taxpayer is the majority….and I simply do not agree you are on that side.

    [Reply]

  15. John, you are correct, there is an article in today’s Daily Local that states there will be a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7:30 at the T/E Administrative office to discuss the tennis courts. According to the article,

    School board member Liz Mercogliano said she is with the residents.

    “There is no legitimate reason based on impervious surface, stormwater management, safety (or) sink holes to remove the court,” Mercogliano said in an e-mail. “The parking can be built in same area with no issue as there is more land space.

    “The community deserves their right to be heard and look into other means of raising funds for maintenance and possible takeover of the court through the Parks and Recreation board or a similar foundation to raise funds. I am supporting a delay to allow the opportunity for the taxpayer to seek an alternative method to save the courts for the kids.”

    [Reply]

  16. John, I could not agree more.

    IMO, the administrators don’t care if the tennis courts stay or go. It serves as a distraction for them. They would like nothing more than for citizens to stay focused on the tennis court drama so other bigger more meaningful issues stay hidden. Personally, I don’t have a strong opinion on the tennis courts one way or the other. I will not rally either way.

    To those of you who picked up the book “The Will of the People” and read all or part of it, Thank-you. I’m flattered. Aunt Bee’s wisdom is great and definitely has it’s place in the sit com world but it certainly doesn’t hurt to turn off the tube every now and then and expose yourself to some other influences.

    And I too find it amazing what gets attention around here.

    The only way to affect change is the voting booth. Vote new officials in and talk to them the moment they take office.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    Anothr Friedman with good ideas is Milton Friedman of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

    Please read: The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools.

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  17. so there are a few folks that want to keep tennis courts for their parochial use, and the rest should abide by their wishes, no matter what the School board decides? I think this is a reverse example, one where the majority has to be protected from the minority on this one.

    How often does an unenvolved majority end up living under edicts, laws and regulations proffered by a loud, sometimes petulant minority? Gotta go back to Friendman on that one.
    And yes, while not in this case here but really the opposite is occuring, it is absolutely true that the will of the people whoever and what ever that is must allow for the protection the will of the minority. Crazy tennis court!! Maybe one of those VF neighbors should just put up courts in their backyard if there is room…

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  18. According to the following notice on the TESD website, members of Tredyffrin Twp Board of Supervisors will join the School Board members for Tuesday’s meeting. When was the last time that supervisors and school directors came together for an issue?? And the issue is 2 tennis courts!

    NOTICE

    There will be an informational session held by the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District regarding the removal of the tennis courts located on the property at the Valley Forge Elementary School. In attendance will be members of the District’s School Board and Administration and also representatives of the Tredyffrin Township Supervisors.

    DATE: April 2, 2013
    TIME: 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
    LOCATION: Tredyffrin/Easttown School District Administrative Offices
    940 West Valley Road in Wayne, PA
    Suite 1700 Room 200

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  19. Fan,

    Calm down. We don’t know what the majority wants. The majority is silent. My guess is they’re just like me. It won’t matter to them either way.

    Why the strong interest in this issue fan? Are you a resident of GH? Why not go picket and demonstrate your will if you’re getting this worked up about it?

    So you read Friedman too? Thank-you so much. Maybe he got his idea for the book from Aunt Bee. Smart lady.

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  20. Somehow this misses the point. ONLY squeaky wheels get greased…because of the endless finger pointing at the lack of transparency, which is another new buzz word…
    This parking issue went through a totally transparent process but no one paid attention, including board members, until it was a NIMBY issue.

    But since no one wants to make anyone too mad, they are testing the depth of the discontent….and making it political.

    We DO know the majority wants accountability and thoughtful decisions….but I have always said anyone can stand at the grocery store and get 1000 signatures for the cause célèbre…and I think this blog on social media and the newspapers are all falling prey to the relative ignorance of the people…ignorance meaning “do not know” not meaning stupid…and when you learn about something through an angry lens, your vision is discolored.

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  21. Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge).[1] The word ignorant is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware and is often used as an insult to describe individuals who deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts. Ignoramus is commonly used in the US, the UK, and Ireland as a term for someone who is willfully ignorant.
    Ignorance is distinguished from stupidity, although both can lead to “unwise” acts.

    Consequences of Ignorance

    Individuals with superficial knowledge of a topic or subject may be worse off than people who know absolutely nothing. As Charles Darwin observed, “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”[4]
    Ignorance can stifle learning, in that a person who falsely believes he or she is knowledgeable will not seek out clarification of his or her beliefs, but rather rely on his or her ignorant position. He or she may also reject valid but contrary information, neither realizing its importance nor understanding it. This concept is elucidated in Justin Kruger’s and David Dunning’s work, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,” otherwise known as the Dunning–Kruger effect.

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    shining light Reply:

    Cowardly,

    People who resort to name calling do so because their argument has no merit.

    I have an article I would like for you yo read. Its called: The Retirement Syndrome: The Psychology of letting Go. It explores the difficulties many people face in letting go at the end of a career and it reviews a number of the barriers to exit: financial, social and psychological. Among other things it describes the ediface complex. The wish to leave behind a legacy. It concludes with suggestions on how to cope.

    I wish you well in your new life and challenges.

    [Reply]

    Cowardly anon Reply:

    SL–allow me to wallow in my need for a legacy, will you? I did not call you a name prior to this, but I posted about IGNORANCE because it is not the same thing as stupidity, and to be candid, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt, presuming you are only ignorant of the facts…I.e. unaware., Looks like I over-evaluated you. Good luck with your anger…me and my background a happy to let you wander through the darkness….despite your belief that you are shining a light….
    I let go in 2002….My last non-athlete child graduated from Conestoga in 2004 and went to Harvard…so I’m pretty okay with the road I travelled….hope you have a similar level of satisfaction in your future.

    My “argument” doesn’t need merit…it’s correct.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    Your anger is getting in the way of clarity again. All arguments need merit.

    “Looks like I overevaluated you” You not only have name called me many many many times, now you’re insulting me.

    I encourage all readers to click on past threads at the top left column. You will find many many comments from Cowardly. You be the judge of who is angry and who is not.

    Lunatic and ignorant are just 2 of the latest in your tool box when you get so angry you can’t control yourself.

    Makes me wonder about your judgement when you were on the board.

    Congrats to your child on graduating from Harvard. We can all tell your very proud

  22. Lots of sound and fury. The fact is the school board and its facilities committee did a botch job communicating this decision to its stakeholders. Period. And, now it’s come back to bite them. The neighbors and other TE residents have every right to question the board’s decision, which following Tuesday’s “informational session” appears by the committee’s own admission to be half-baked and insufficient for solving the problem. We are living in the 21st Century, not the Middle Ages. Good goverance requires good communication with key stakeholders. By taking a we can demolish what want approach, the board has demonstrated its complete disdain for the public it serves. Why schedule an informational session after the fact, unless you have absolutely no intention of listening to what the public has to say? I don’t typically attend these meeting, so I was shocked by the woefully poor presentation as well as the rude and dismissive way the committee chair, in particular, treated those that spoke. This was especially evident when the chair literally dressed down an 80-year-old plus resident, who has worked tirelessly over the years to maintain those courts From the looks of it, Tom Daly spent maybe five minutes preparing the presentation, and even then did a great job of flipping around slides to avoid showing anything more than agenda and an overview of the site. Now, there’s an effort to pit the soccer moms against the tennis buffs? Nice. Well, let me tell you if any of those soccer balls ends up in my backyard, they ain’t getting them back.

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