Are Dan Waters and the TE School Board planning to outsource without public discussion?

In advance of tonight’s School Board meeting, all  aides, paraeducators and paraprofessionals working in the TE School District received the following Q&A Fact Sheet this afternoon from Dan Waters.

Is the message to the District employees and the taxpayers supposed to be — don’t bother to show up tonight with your questions because the District and the School Board has already made up its mind on outsourcing?  Where’s the public discussion?  Don’t the opinions of the residents in this District count for anything?  We elected these nine School Board members to represent ‘US’ — where’s our representation!  

According to the email from Waters,  the Board has received 31 emails from people that misunderstand the outsourcing plan.  Why do you suppose that people misunderstood?  The only time I know that the outsourcing  ‘plan’ was ever discussed was at the Finance Committee meeting and I can tell you that the School Board did NOT know all the answers.  We were told that outsourcing did not have to do with the Affordable Care Act, yet in this Q&A, it states that as a reason.  It was clear at the Finance Committee meeting that the District CANNOT and WILL NOT mandate that STS hire the TE paraprofessionals.  It was specifically stated that all the District could do was ENCOURAGE the hiring of the the TE employees.   Read the PR statement from the District and they would have us believe that it’s an absolute that the employees keep their jobs.

Is the intention of this email from Dan Waters to intimidate aides and paraprofessionals from speaking out tonight?  

Is the intention of the email to silence TENIG members because they are next up for outsourcing?

Is the public supposed to be intimidated by Dan Waters, Art McDonnell and the 9 School Board members?  Are we not entitled to ask questions and receive answers?  

Any misunderstanding of the outsourcing plan is completely ‘by design’ by the District … keep us in the dark, with limited information.  Give us ‘fuzzy math’ and tell us that the District is saving money.  Promise aides their jobs when they get outsourced but privately know there’s no guarantee.  Tell the paraprofessionals that they will make more money because they get to keep their 7.5% pension contribution.  If people in this community want a ‘voice’, they are going to have to show up tonight and claim it!

This draft Question and Answer Fact Sheet was prepared to be sent to affected employees if the outsourcing of the work of aides, para-educators and paraprofessionals was approved at this evening’s School Board meeting. As of this time, the Board has received 31 emails with a common misunderstanding of the plan. The following Fact Sheet regarding the transition to STS as the employer describes the District’s plan for outsourcing this work while accomplishing the Board’s goal to maintain our current aides, para-educators and paraprofessionals in their current positions.

Dan Waters
Superintendent of Schools
Tredyffrin/Easttown School District

Questions and Answers regarding Transition to  Substitute Teacher Service, Inc.

The District appreciates the work of the support service personnel in assisting our children to succeed. This shift to Substitute Teachers Service, Inc. (STS) does not diminish your contribution to the students which is appreciated by all. The budget strategy was delayed for the past three years, but the state-required increase in the District’s contribution to the PSERs fund and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act require this shift of the work to an outsourcing management company. We encourage you to attend the STS transition meeting to begin the process of employment with STS at TESD.

1.  What was the District’s motivation in making this change?

The District’s motivation is to retain current employees in the same building with the same hours while increasing the typical aide, para-educator or paraprofessional’s total compensation.

2.  Why is the District doing this now?

The Affordable Care Act is now law. The aides, para-educators and paraprofessionals were not eligible for healthcare benefits in the past. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act the District would have to reduce aide, para-educator and paraprofessional hours below the 30 hour threshold which requires that healthcare benefits be provide to employees who work for school districts.

3.  What is the District’s goal for outsourcing the work of the aides, para-educators and paraprofessionals?

Outsourcing the work of aides, para-educators and paraprofessionals has been considered as a budget strategy for the past three budget years by the Board.  The goal of the strategy is to maintain the current personnel with comparable hours within a long-term financially sustainable budget. The mandatory PSERS increase as a percent of  salaries for individuals employed by the District, along with the implications of the Affordable Care Act, coupled with declining revenues made it necessary at this time to implement outsourcing the work of the aides, para-educators and paraprofessionals.

4. Will the current employees in these roles be offered the opportunity to keep their current positions next year while working for STS?

Yes. The goal of the strategy remains that current employees whose performance is deemed satisfactory will be encouraged to accept the opportunity to be hired by STS.

5.  When will STS become my employer?

The contract with STS begins on July 1, 2013. Your work year would follow the typical schedule and would begin with the start of school in the fall of 2013.

6.  The Board approved contract with STS begins July 1, 2013. Will I be separated from employment by the District before being hired by STS? 

Yes. In June, all aides, para-educators and paraprofessionals will have their employment with the District ended. The separation will appear for Board action in the June 17th Board agenda. The employee will be given the opportunity within the next few weeks to meet with STS and begin the STS employment process. Again, the goal of the District strategy is to transfer the management responsibility to STS, while maintaining employees in their current roles at TESD.

7.  When would I begin working as an employee of STS? 

It is the District’s desire that our current support staff members will return to their assignments in the District in the fall as employees of STS.

8.  What do I need to do to be hired by STS? 

You will be invited to attend a transition meeting with the District and STS.  This meeting will be held at a District school to be announced.  At this meeting, you will be able to begin paperwork to become an STS employee at TESD in the fall of 2013.

9.  Will I need to provide new clearances and a TB test to be considered for employment by STS?

Yes.  These are state mandated forms and the STS employee is responsible for the cost.

10.  Since I will be separated from the District and will not receive a reasonable assurance letter to return to work in the fall of 2013 as a District employee, am I eligible to apply for unemployment compensation during the days I am not employed in the summer? 

Possibly yes. Depending upon the extent and nature of any work you perform over the summer, you may be able to choose to apply for unemployment compensation for the days you are not employed by the District in the summer.  If you are uncertain about your unemployment compensation entitlement, you may file for unemployment benefits with the Unemployment Compensation Bureau. The District will not file for these benefits on your behalf.

11.  Will my current paid holidays be changed in the first year when I am employed by STS? 

You will continue to have 10 paid holidays per year and 2 paid floating holidays in the 2013-2014 school year when you are assigned to the T/E School District as an employee of STS. The floating holidays earned during 2012-2013 but not used will be paid out in June 2013 as is our practice.

12.  What will my paid sick time allotment be in the first year when I am employed by STS? 

STS will provide you with 10 paid sick days during the 2013-2014 school year.

13.  Would my assignment next year be at the same school with the same total hours per week if I am employed by STS?

Generally speaking, yes.  Typically, we have some employees who work in new locations each year; however, most support personnel return to the same building for the same total hours as they worked in the previous year.

14.  What will my total compensation be as an employee of STS? 

The total compensation as an STS employee includes a reduced hourly rate of approximately 12%; this new rate will not require a 7.5% employee contribution to PSERS; the employee will have the ability to choose to file for unemployment compensation benefits.  This new annual total compensation may be the same or greater than it had been as a TESD employee, because the PSERS contribution is not required and you may choose to file for unemployment compensation.

15.  What about the PSERs retirement funds that I have accrued? 

The District will arrange to have a representative from PSERs present a seminar on this topic to separated employees.  This PSERs seminar will be held in the District, as soon as possible.  The goal of this PSERs seminar is to provide employees with information which will assist them in making an informed decision about their PSERs account once they are no longer employed by the District.

16.  As an STS employee will I be required to use KRONOS? 

Yes.

17.  Will my hours be reduced as an STS employee? 

Generally speaking, no.  Most STS employees will work the same total hours as in the previous year. A few STS employees may see adjustments in their hours due to needs at the various buildings.  These personnel hour adjustments happen annually for certain employees.

18.  Does STS provide access to employees for a self-funded retirement savings fund? 

Yes, STS will provide the employee with access to a 401(k) type of retirement savings program. This 401 (k) type retirement savings program is funded by the employee, not by STS.

19.  Will STS provide any medical benefits to the employees?

No. The current TESD aide, para-educator and paraprofessional are not eligible for health care coverage. The same will apply to STS employees.

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9 Comments

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  1. Well, this is more detail that the public got. Thanks Pattye, I think your focus on this issue certainly helped getting the letter writing campaign in gear. Hopefully, the Board will have more detail for the public tonight. As presented at the Finance Meeting, the fiscal argument for this strategy was extremely weak; “the employees will make less and it will cost the District more until year 3 when we experience some savings…reason for savings not defined…”.
    It’s still not a strategy that can be evaluated from the financial perspective..still more questions than answers. Isn’t it ironic that this strategy for dealing with employees is driven by avoidance of Government Impositions? Both Federal (ACA) and State (PSERS increases) are blamed in the communication above.
    For the affected employees, they certainly have a decision to make. Being removed from a defined benefit pension plan is a big loss of benefit (forget for a moment said plan is $41 B under-funded). For this reason alone, employees may seek out another District for employment if the offer to stay in PSERS were available. The 12% loss in pay (which is not balanced by a non-contribution to PSERS or the opportunity to collect unemployment for a couple months) will be up to the individual to evaluate.
    So, what is the benefit to the District? What potential costs of Government Imposition have we avoided? Hope we can get answers. Are we expecting too much that our elected public (volunteer) Boards of local government allow the taxpayer insight into key management and long-term financial decisions? That’s a question I thought I knew the answer to…..

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  2. The district said, “you may choose to file for unemployment compensation.”
    .
    Note that the district didn’t say, “you will be able to collect unemployment compensation”. Every article I have read says you will not be eligible for unemployment compensation in PA because a worker employed by a temp agency is considered an “independent contractor”.
    .
    Here is the question to ask – Will I be paid on a 1099 basis or a W-2 basis? You are an employee if you receive a W-2. You are an independent contractor if you receive a 1099 and, most likely, ineligible for unemployment compensation.
    http://employmentlaw101.blogspot.com/2011/08/are-temporary-employees-entitled-to.html
    .
    As a further insult, if you are an independent contractor paid on a 1099 basis, the employee is responsible for the employee’s AND employer’s share of FICA (an independent contractor is both the employer and employee). That’s 7.5% of your salary times two.
    .
    Disclaimer – I am not an unemployment claims expert.

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    flyersfan Reply:

    Keith so if these workers are considered independent contractors, will they receive a 1099 instead of w2 and also be responsible for their own taxes, and the STS doesn’t match ss?

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    flyersfan Reply:

    ok I see that you have answered that in your post above.

    This board has to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to offer cheap insurance to these employees. Most won;t take it… THis board has to go back and research STS.
    This board has to consider the EXPENSE of losing a good amount of these employees, the backbone of our schools.

    We the people have to look seriously at the pickle(s) our federal and state governments have put us in.And we the people have to take our voting seriously, not just as a jingoistic feel good event that will have NO serious consequences for us…

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  3. Thank you Pattye for keeping us all abreast of what is going on. I think this blog is responsible for getting the word out quickly to so many people. Great job everyone who came out to the meeting. I think that we got our point across-NO OUTSOURCING!
    There were many questions on how the Affordable Care Act costs would be figured for schools.
    In about a 5 second search on Google, I found a website that explains it fairly clearly. If anyone is interested:
    http://www.Frontlinek12.com
    Let’s not stop now, make sure we attend the Finance Committee meeting and the next School Board meeting as well. Going to bed now, it’s late!

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  4. I am assuming that the decision has been turfed to another day but not taken off the table. Looking forward to a recap of tonight’s meeting.

    I was shocked at the email that came through from Dan Waters at 3pm today. First, I’m sure they received more than 31 emails and I know one was from me – and there certainly was no misunderstanding in my email. Second, I agree with the tone of the email – that it was already decided so don’t bother – y’all don’t understand nuttin’. How offensive (and I am not one to normally take offense!).

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  5. I thought the same thing about the e-mail. They already decided, carry on aides you aren’t important to us at all. We make our choices (Like hiring Andy Chambers) and I don’t give a crap what you think! I have so much power.

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  6. skirting the law, legally is, well legal. It is the prerogative of the district, and any business to keep their costs down. So aclu, AGs office won’t change that. This is a product of laws that are anti growth, anti worker, with the law of unintended consequences that countervale the original intentions of said laws. The board needs more information about what I mentioned above. I think they were not informed, or ill informed, or didn’t think this through well enough.

    Brilliant

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  7. John,
    .
    I think you misunderstand the intent of PPACA (Obamacare) when you state, “The district is trying its level best to skirt the AHCA.”
    .
    The PPACA allows two options to any employer and it is best described as Pay of Play. Either one is legal and neither “skirts” the PPACA.
    .
    The employer can choose to Play by providing minimum coverage to their employees. By “minimum” coverage I’m talking about a very bare bones catastrophic policy with a high deductible (around $5,000) that costs the employee $2K per year and the employer $3K per year.
    .
    The employer can choose to Pay by not offering any medical insurance. This is entirely legal because the employer pays a “tax” to the government (about $3K per employee) and the government in turn subsidizes medical insurance for the employee purchased through the state exchange.

    [Reply]

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