TE School District … Intimidation to silence

I am not writing today based on an isolated email from a disgruntled school district employee.  I wish that were the case.  Phone calls, text messages and emails have come to me from teachers, paraeducators, custodians, kitchen workers, support staff and aides all painting an eerily similar picture of the work environment inside our award-winning TE schools.

If you want to control someone, all you have to do is make him or her feel afraid.  It appears that the TE School District is now an environment of intimidation with administrators calling for loyalty, demanding public silence and leaving employees fearing for their jobs.

From the outside, the school district appears the image of excellence by any standard – impressive test scores,  high achieving students in all areas – academics, athletics and the arts, supportive parents and caring teachers and staff that believe in putting education and students first.

However, those working inside our schools describe an atmosphere far differently … a place of fear and intimidation … a place where our District employees, fearing retribution, do not feel like they have a voice.   One poignant email read in part, “We have signs all over about anti-bullying, yet the staff gets bullied.”  Another email contained these words, “If you speak out and they (administration) don’t like what you’re saying, and you’re not a ‘yes person,’ then you will literally … you could lose your place there. You could lose your job.”  I just read a comment posted on Community Matters that says TENIG employees were rebuked by the Administration for attending Monday’s School Board meeting.  If true, this level of harassment must stop.  School Board meetings are public meetings and all employees are welcome to attend.  There is a policy that only TESD residents may speak at Board meetings with the exception of TENIG and TEEA union presidents.

The TE School District is committed to a safe and civil education environment for all its students that is free from harassment, intimidation or bullying and the same right is extended to all District employees. TESD Policy, Regulation 4330  “Unlawful harassment by and of TESD employees” provides the procedure for an employee to report unlawful harassment to their immediate supervisor, or to the Superintendent of Schools, if the complaint involves that supervisor.  But herein lies the problem – if the District employees are scared of the Administration, and fear retaliation and possible loss of their job, how are they supposed to speak out? And where do they take their message?

This discontent between administrators and staff that has led to low morale in the schools did not just begin this week.  Although certainly exacerbated by the proposed outsourcing of aides, paraeducators and substitute teachers, there is an unsettling picture that is beginning to surface; a workplace shrouded by fear and intimidation.

The School Board Directors of Tredyffrin Easttown School District need to lead.  The taxpayers of this community pay the administrator salaries of the School District and we elected you as the overseers.  Now the community is  respectfully asking you stop deferring all your decisions to the Administration, and to  simply … govern.

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  1. As a reading paraprofessional who has worked in the district for 5 years, I am truly disappointed by the treatment all paras and aides are receiving and the lack of respect given to us and our jobs.
    I think the community and perhaps the board as well does not truly understand the various jobs we all have.
    The term “aides” implies in the minds of some, perhaps, workers who perform very replaceable jobs, non-skilled jobs. That is not true…most if not all aides that I work with have college degrees and teaching certificates. Their jobs are important to the teachers they help and most importantly to the students they so closely work with on a daily basis.
    Furthermore, the title “reading paraprofessional” really means nothing to the outside community….we are reading teachers…all certified, experienced educators who actually plan, teach, work with children everyday in our own classroom. We test and screen children, conference with teachers about the children we see as well as work very closely with our building reading specialist. We are “cheap teachers” but love our job, low salary and all because of the quality of the schools and staff and the CHILDREN.
    STS will not be able to supply a certified teacher to fill the reading or science para positions. No certified teacher would accept an even lower salary (at least 12% less than we receive now) that does not pay into retirement. Potentially, a high school graduate or GED recipient would be working with children who need support with their reading and would be trying to teach science…with all of the prep, planning, etc that involves.
    The quality of just those 2 areas alone will most certainly declline significantly. Perhaps the reading support program would fall apart with the lack of committed, experienced teachers.
    Is this what the board wants.the end of .a “parent pleasing, highly child-impacting program?
    TSK-TSK…There goes the #5 in the state ranking….
    I want to work in the T/E schools not in an STS school.

    [Reply]

    Sad for the Paras too Reply:

    Thank you Anonymous TE Paraprofessional for bringing up something I don’t think many people realize. The positions of the paras in our buildings is sometimes very different from the one on one aides. They are our reading teachers, science paras and tech paras. Do people realize that when the Applied Tech programs were eliminated in the elementary schools that a large majority of the tasks of the Applied Tech Teachers was moved to the Tech Aide paraprofessionals??? These employees, although small in number compared to the overall aides and paraeducators in the district, took on the job without a pay increase. Actually their hours were cut. The technical aides in the buildings keep the entire “show” running. Everything from the students pcs, the teacher pcs and down to the light bulbs in the projectors! It’s very said that these professional, hard working paras in the reading support rooms, the science rooms and technical support will be on the chopping block. I say that because I’m not sure how many would be willing to come back if their hours or pay are reduced. As it is now they feel they are underpaid for a job they can barely get done in the time allotted.

    [Reply]

  2. Sounds like a lot of people got “reprimand” letters today. Glad I’m not alone! I’m not intimidated by the District “thugs” over there on West Valley Road. As far as I’m concerned, all they did was “poke the badger”. Big mistake!!!

    [Reply]

    Aides unite Reply:

    Some got a severe threatening letter from the business manager apparently a staff member spoke to the press.
    That person will be facing punishment maybe termination.

    Not only that many confirm that the three musketeers have all shown up without warning in all the schools to give the evil eye and a stern warning to be quiet.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    If anyone received one of these threatening letters, I would like a copy. Please white out any identifying information (name/address, etc.) and forward to me at tredyffrincommunitymatters@gmail.com The confidentiality of the sender will be honored. This has to stop.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    Pattye if I may ( a waters expression) respectfully suggest you send a copy, when you get it, to news outlets. thanks for your help.

  3. I suggest the reading of the following policy #4022:

    Addressing Employee Concerns and Criticism
    .
    The District expressly prohibits TESD employees from directing concerns or criticism to students, parents or other non-District employee members of the school community for the employee’s personal benefit or work conditions, or which otherwise materially disrupt the District operations.
    .
    http://www.tesd.net/cms/lib/PA01001259/Centricity/Domain/14/p4022.pdf

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    It was not for personal benefit…

    [Reply]

    Mamamia Reply:

    Keith…why should policy 4022 mean a thing to us when regulation 4330 doesn’t mean a thing to the admin or sb???
    I am aware of that letter. If it came to me, my lawyer would have had a copy of it faster than lightning. How dare this district continue to try and intimidate for speaking at a board meeting, or notifing the public of the board intentions at the meeting. I’d be fighting back strong!

    [Reply]

  4. so this isn’t applicable. that worker was a taxpayer. She was directing her OPINION to the school board.. want to split hairs?

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    so NONE of the aides were allowed to speak? what the hell is this keith? guess a whole lotta folks are going to get fired.

    this can blow up.

    [Reply]

    supportstaff Reply:

    It’s not that they’re not allowed, they’re afraid. Once you are on ‘their’ radar, look out! Someone earlier warned me to be careful-it’s too late.

    [Reply]

    Aides unite Reply:

    Yes they took names if you spoke at the meeting and are coming to find you ?
    Anyone who spoke to the press will also face a sit down or something more severe.

    Be careful but rally the troops. When the teachers faced contract issues they wore a tee shirt for solidarity.
    Do the same. Speak to all the parents who depend on the support of an aide.

    Invite the board to come walk in your day. All the side duties aides do to make this district one that used to rank and shine above all the rest.

  5. FF,
    I’m only pointing out a district policy. I have no stance on whether it is legal, ethical, moral or appropriate.

    [Reply]

  6. As one of the few employees who was able to secure a fabulous job in another main line school district, I CAN speak the truth – Employees have noted for years that they felt bullied and targeted when raising any questions or concerns regarding building and/or programming changes. Who lead the bullying? As a secretary once said, “A fish stinks from the head down.” When will the TE community step up and DEMAND change?

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    I’m so glad that you were able to find a great job. Hopefully, many others will be able to do the same.

    [Reply]

  7. It’s time for a huge change. The morale level of this district stinks. Teachers aren’t happy. Now you have aides and custodians and secretaries fearing for a job they once held as proud. Possibly replaced by nobodies.

    It’s reflective in the teaching. Teachers don’t mean to be a downer but look who their leaders are.
    Bullies or has been administration who all got a bonus.

    [Reply]

  8. if im correct waters serves at the pleasure of the board. tiede too. with elections coming maybe this should be an issue. time to cast the old guard off. anyone agree? does this board have the guts? will a new one be in pocket of this corruption going forward? time for c h a n g e here in te

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  9. I have worked as an aide for 15 years. I began working at New Eagle when my children were young and attended the school. They continued through the school district and have now graduated. I could have left my job as an aide but never did because I loved the students and thought I was making a real difference in their young lives.

    But things have changed in the TE school district. I still love the students and have a great relationship with my classroom teachers. But the negativity and lack of respect from the administration is always present. On the occasion that Waters in our school, the tension is felt through the school. You pray that he doesn’t come near your class and if you see him in the hall, he never speaks but just glares. There’s no warmth or appreciation shown and we are made to feel worthless in his presence. This is very sad for our school district.

    [Reply]

  10. Apparently if you spoke up and out at the school board meeting they took your name down if you were staff.
    If you spoke to the press be prepared for a verbal warning or more serious actions.
    Also they are sending administration in to all the schools to intimidate the staff, teachers, aides and anyone on this matter.
    So ask yourself about the people we have in power or the people governing.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    they are sending administration in to all the schools to intimidate the staff, teachers, aides and anyone on this matter.

    I am so upset by the actions of this Administration. Where is the School Board?? We need someone to step up and take charge of this situation.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    this school board is a joke. they are puppets of the administration. Was happy to read Rays opinion, as while i don’t always agree with him this time I do. :)

    This school board is impotent. They are followers of the administration, not independent. We should contact them and have them speak out and STOP intimidation. But the wouldnt respond to our calls. They are very silent. Maybe they wont add to the conversation here, but they should come out with a statement. unfortunately Buraks is so ill equiped to lead that this is hopeless. there are some others who may speak up, Where is Bruce? Long time board member? Dont expect much from motel, he has no moxey. Being polite. If this was a different community, this could be really ugly. I say retire Waters, get him out. Macdonnel out.. Tiede, a vindictive and miserable woman, OUT!

    Dont be fooled by her demeanor at the meeting, and how she treated the speakers, especially that young and courageous substitute teacher. She will never work in this district as a teacher as long as that Tiede is here.

    Bullies at the highest level. Man am I pissed..

    [Reply]

  11. It’s not easy managing a school district these days. You are squeezed between severely capped revenue, large increases in benefits costs, particularly PSERS, special education increases and increasing wage costs and expectations born of tax windfalls from a developing township. In a district like T/E the demands are especially high for maintaining rich programs at a reasonable cost.

    Change is difficult and will inevitably hurt the work environment – to some extent. Any affected constituency and its supporters can come up with many reasons why a proposal will hurt one aspect of the district; it’s not easy to take the big picture. However, it is notable that now that the community is engaged in the outsourcing issue many ideas have come to the fore.

    This management challenge is the reason why we pay above-average compensation to our Superintendent and Administration. With that compensation comes expectations for above-average performance and high levels of scrutiny. The recent Act 93 agreement, poorly communicated, makes an easy target, even though the percentage increases pale in comparison to recent experience of unionized staff.

    In today’s world where success can only be achieved through collaboration with employees, parents and taxpayers in order to figure out how to do more with less, it seems to me that the time is ripe for new leadership.

    Dan Waters has given TESD many years of dedicated service. Perhaps, though he is no longer a good fit with these “new normal” requirements? This outsourcing debacle is the clearest evidence, compounded with body language at Monday’s meeting (and most other times) which said that the TEAO was the last place he wanted to be. Last year’s “surprise” $5 million budget turnaround when the district was squeezing the teachers is an earlier example where trust has been shredded.

    I think that the Board should give serious consideration to accelerating Dr Waters’ retirement by two years.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    I agree with everything you’ve said Ray. We all know that change is difficult but it’s not what they did-it’s HOW they went about doing it and are continuing to deal with it. It doesn’t have to be like this.
    I definitely agree with the early retirement. Do you happen to know if that would cost the taxpayers anything extra?

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    I imagine that there would be a – one time – cost to terminate Dr Waters’ contract. The ongoing cost of a successor may not be quite as high.

    [Reply]

  12. This is very disappointing news. Top performing organizations are always built on a foundation of trust. The employees are the most valuable asset you have and are also your best source of solutions. Dynamic leadership brings everyone together, lays out the challenges, and let’s the team develop alternatives. This brings about the satisfaction of being respected and valued. Nobody gets everything they want but they at least have a chance to voice their concerns and can fully understand and accept the decision. I hope to bring this approach to the district if I get elected to the Board this fall.
    Pete Connors

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Pete, I believe that we know where your opponent Kevin Buraks stands on outsourcing — what is your position?

    [Reply]

    PJ Reply:

    You solve a problem by digging down to the root cause. Let’s look at the situation. The district has been running in the red for a few years now and making up the difference from fund balance. Next year’s budget looks like a 6-7% growth in spending….again. The taxpayers can’t keep up with that kind of growth. Our state legislators are dragging their feet when it comes to pension reform, which has to happen. One of the substitute teachers who spoke at the School Board Meeting stated that she knew it had to be reformed. If she is typical it shows that the employees understand more than they are given credit for knowing.
    So the district is trying to find a way to slow that growth. if they outsource then STS are the BAD guys cutting wages and the district dodges the PSERS and ACA bullet.
    My approach would be to speak with those people who are the subject of the outsourcing and lay out the challenge of reducing costs. Show the cost savings expected from outsourcing and let the team have a chance to come up with their own solution. In that process you will also test the assumptions made by the administration and make sure the data they are showing is accurate.
    If outsourcing means a 12% pay cut….would the aides, paras and subs be willing to take a portion of that to avoid the outsource? This seems to be an incredibly dedicated group who really are doing it for the children. What a positive message that would send to the community. They should have an opportunity to make that choice. Didn’t the custodians get that chance last year?
    There needs to be a team spirit in the district. That tone is set by management by showing the employees the respect of keeping them informed and giving them the opportunity to be part of the solution.
    I have been running my own business for 31 years. I can tell you first hand that many people in the private sector have seen their incomes go down significantly. Unemployed people are finding that to get back working they are taking jobs at lower salaries. That is a sign of the times. I wish we could insulate our valued school employees from that reality but we can’t. We should at least respect them enough to allow them to shape the solution.
    My sense is that the public is frustrated by a seeming lack of transparency on current board…….my read is slightly different . I see a lack of trust in the entire situation. We have been so divided into little special interest groups who don’t listen to each other. As far as I am concerned their are two ” customers” in this situation, the children, who recieve the product and the taxpayers who pay for it. The job of the adults in the system is to maximize the outcomes for the former and minimize the impact on the latter. It is not easy but can be a lot smoother if we come together.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thank you for your response. As the lowest paid employees in the District (yet some of the most educated and qualified) and without benefit of union support and healthcare benefits, I really do not see how they should be asked to take a pay cut. They are extremely dedicated, working many hours without pay, I think it would be extremely unfair to suggest that they take a pay cut from the $10-12/hr. that they are making. This group of aides and paras is highly educated, with 4-yr. degrees and many with Master’s degrees working for such a low rate and we have many administrators making $150K (Waters compensation package is over $300K/yr). But you are right when you say there needs to be “team spirit” in this District! It’s decisive now – with the School Board and Administration on one side and the District employees on the other side and the rest of us trapped in the middle.

    flyersfan Reply:

    Pete, thanks for your most recent response. One has to consider the budget machinations over the last 4 years, considering the board(s) knew at that time this would happen, and yet they still rewarded admin these bonuses and raises. Seems to me this was poor planning.

    SupportStaff Reply:

    I agree with your statement about “team spirit” but you can’t keep “playing” the same people. Custodians took a freeze then a cut to keep their jobs. Non Instructional took a pay freeze. Aides/Paras haven’t had a raise in 4 or 5 years. It’s someone elses turn on “the team” to get off the bench and play.
    I don’t know if I’ll vote for you or not, as you really didn’t answer the question about outsourcing, much like the people that are already in power.

    anon Reply:

    Mr Connors,
    If your solution is to ask the paras, who have not had a raise in 4 years to consider less pay (while both the teachers and administrators have had raises, some even with the audacity to accept bonuses) during these difficult times, YOU WILL NOT GET MY VOTE. The only group that has not given and that has outrageous salaries already, is the administrators, they need to show they are TEAM PLAYERS too, and practice what they preach repeatedly. And your political speech that dances around what you would do does not impress me in the least, it is a warning of future avoidance, to keep from being pinned down someday and doing what you promised.

    Disgusted Reply:

    Mr. Connors,

    I find your post more than a bit disingenuous.

    We need true leaders. People who aren’t afraid to stand alone and stand up for what is right for the tax payers and children of this district anytime, not just when the tide of public opinion blows a big wave and creates an opportunity for a candidate, no one has heard from to date, to jump on and ride in to victory. . Ms. Crowley comes to my mind when thinking about someone who had the courage to stand up and stand alone for what is right. She didn’t wait until the last comfortable minute to do the right thing.

    Scott Dorseys post was a little late in my mind too but at least he showed a little courage. He didn’t know he had the public support when he posted his views.

    Your views and political affiliations are similar to Dr. Brake’s. Do you think you would have allowed the outsourcing of an entire segment of the district to be slipped in a consent agenda with no public view, discussion or VETTING? Ms. Crowley is the only reason that didn’t happen. Do you have her courage and independance? I’m having trouble seeing it.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    Disgusted, the fact that Conners may align with Dr Brake may or may not be relevant. Dr brake is not always wrong, and I sense his affiliation with the hated tea party has got your dander up. Why not VET mr conners? Frankly, your post is a distraction to the very real acute problem we have. Mr conners if he is a serious contenter will have his say. Then you decide. I will watch too..

    [Reply]

    Disgusted and disappointed Reply:

    “Why not vet Mr. Connors?”

    That’s exactly what I’m doing.

    His approach is to speak to those being outsourced and allow them the opportunity to shape the solution? Really? Why do we pay these huge salaries to the administrators then? Isn’t that their job? They didn’t even vet the company they chose to use.

    And just tlike the administrators (and therefore the board) he assumes this is the place to save money? what about the inflated salaries of the administrators? what about the fact they granted themselves raises and bonuses?

    “They should have the opportunity to make the choice?” To accept a pay decrease or leave? They should not have even been put in this position.

    I am so disappointed. I don’t see how Mr. Connors views are any different than Mr. Buraks. Mr. Connors may at least by virtue of watching this from the sidelines, be inclined to listen and pay more attention.

    “I wish we could ensulate our valued school employees.” We ensulate the administrators and their friends. Heck, we even allow them bonusues and raises.

    Thank-you for posting your views, Mr. Connors

  13. Ray Clarke is right – it is very hard to manage a school district. I suspect that most of the people writing here do not even know Dr. Waters personally. Have you ever spoken to him? Well I have. He is a dedicated leader who is absolutely committed to the students of the T/E school district. I am sickened by the tone used on this blog and the personal attacks.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    He is not leading, he is dictating. There is a HUGE difference.I do know him and have spoken to him. Sorry, I don’t agree with you..
    Is this written by his wife?

    [Reply]

    kinney Reply:

    “I am sickened by the tone used on this blog and the personal attacks.”

    I could not agree with this statement more!!

    [Reply]

    joan Reply:

    He should be a committed and dedicated leader for the compensation he is receiving!

    [Reply]

    Aides unite Reply:

    Oh his perks are endless.
    Meanwhile aides we are just dust in the wind.

    [Reply]

    Aides unite Reply:

    Perhaps you haven’t seen Dr. Waters pop in to a school and walk on by as if you are a nobody. Show up out of nowhere to let everyone know he’s got power.
    Nobody discredits what he may have done to our district.
    However he has made very poor choices and powerful ones that impact an entire district and the school board lets him.

    The morale in the district is at an all time low if the walls could talk inside our schools it would tell a lot.
    They fear that so they are in double bully mode.
    Be careful but at the same time it’s time to speak up.

    [Reply]

    joan Reply:

    I don’t know the exact number of aides that not only work in the district but live their too, but there are many. By following through with this plan, it is also apparent they are attacking not only the bottom of the pay scale employees but also there own tax payers! Be careful administration, these people carry a big stick in the community and have a lot of support.!

    [Reply]

    anon Reply:

    This is not personal, just a suggestion, wouldn’t the district save a lot more money if they outsource the Administrators?

    [Reply]

  14. He may have been useful in his day. It is time for him to go. He is an arrogant overpaid monarch. You only mentioned one sentence of ray clarkes entry.

    Admirable as you try to be, it is over for this guy. His last deeds will tarnish any success he has had in the past. How often does that happen.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    are you his wife?

    [Reply]

  15. History Lesson 101

    What is happening in our district is not unique, not in today’s world, and not in our very thick history books. It starts with an assault against the “common people” resulting in a social and political upheaval.

    The “age-old” history lesson always starts with an absolute monarch (a.k.a Dan Waters) who has been allowed to bully and continually silence his staff using fear tactics is suddenly exposed when the common people (The Aides, Paras, and the non-union people-the easy targets) are threatened.

    We know how this “age-old” story ended for King Louis XVI.

    To the Blogger who said what a wonderful dedicated man Waters is, you apparently do not work in the district. You have never been cornered privately in a classroom and screamed at. You also (I’m guessing…) did not receive a threatening note yesterday.

    [Reply]

  16. It is called tyranny.. And it is happening all over, at all levels of government and has happened throughout history.. Our great country has always rallied due to the strength of the silent majority

    [Reply]

  17. flyersfan stated:
    I say retire Waters, get him out. Macdonnel out.. Tiede, a vindictive and miserable woman, OUT!
    Dont be fooled by her demeanor at the meeting, and how she treated the speakers, especially that young and courageous substitute teacher. She will never work in this district as a teacher as long as that Tiede is here.
    Bullies at the highest level. Man am I pissed..

    Flyersfan: you have EVERY RIGHT to be pissed! and thank you for stating the absolute truth. It’s obvious you know the threesome well. You hit the nail on the head! All three must go.
    First hand, I can tell you that you speak the truth about Tiede. While she is smiling in your face, you better know that she is planning your demise. She is the nastiest person I have ever had to work with. Well Sue, guess what? We have your number and know exactly how you must be treated also!! You see, it works both ways!
    Same for McDonnell. Perhaps the most arrogant, self centered person to ever enter the district.
    The lack of respect for the administators is sad. But you can’t treat people the way they do and gain any respect.
    The bullying problem by administation is VERY REAL. I see it and live it everyday. Lucky for me, I could care less about these three. They have earned that from me. I WILL NOT however, be bullied! Try as you may! I can either do a great job for the district, or I can be totally ineffective. You get what you give, don’t ever forget that.
    If only the children realized the bullying by administration…how would they feel? So much for teaching by example.
    I have been with the district for years. I have worked with 4 Business managers, 3 Personnel directors, 2 Supers, countless supervisors, countless Principles, teachers and staff. I have never seen the morale lower than it has been recently. (the last 4-5 years) I see shotty work at best, because people just don’t care anymore. Can’t say as I blame them.

    What I really have the biggest problem with is the money paid to the administators. Through salaries and bonuses. I cannot believe the taxpayers stand for this. The district is “broke”…with approx 35 million sitting in the bank, raising taxes year after year, making employees take pay cuts, charging students to play sports and be involved in activities, ( this list is so long), yet they can afford attractive raises and very attractive bonuses for these bullies and their secretaries. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I have to ask the public, the taxpayers, to stand up for yourselves. Don’t allow your hard earned money to flow into their pockets any longer. The money is about much much more than education. I think they have proven that!

    Before I sign off…Pete Connors, you haven’t answered Pattyes question about your stand on outsourcing. How can we be expected to vote for you if you won’t answer this very important question that affects so many???

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    m,ama mia.. (great show)… I think if i interpreted him correctly that it is a process challenge that he would do differently, but try to arrive at a open and fair decision. PS I don’t know him, so I am not his spokesperson.

    [Reply]

    PJ Reply:

    I would try everything possible to avoid outsourcing. There are still variables that are not understood because Obamacare regulations are not clear. I know citizens are trying to get a real handle on probable costs. I have made recommendations of experts they can contact. I believe the estimates presented by the board are pessimistic, making the cost of keeping the aides, paras, and subs in house look much higher than it would be. When you get the real numbers I think the outsourcing not as attractive. I think we will find that most of these employees wont take medical insurance from the district and therefore this cost is overexaggerated. The next hurdle is PSERS . This is the monster that it seems the board is trying to evade. That one has to be attacked by all of us by demanding that the state legislature and Governor reform the system before it bankrupts all school districts. When you have all of the real data you can make an informed decision. I am in favor of running with balanced budgets. I believe we should try to get there without outsourcing. Can I honestly tell you we won’t end up with it…….sadly…no. But I will do my best to explore every opportunity.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    Thank you for your thoughtful answer.

    [Reply]

    Manama Reply:

    PJ,
    Thank you for your answer to outsourcing. I appreciate what I believe to be your honesty and sincere concern. You may have just earned my vote!

    [Reply]

    kinney Reply:

    “I think we will find that most of these employees wont take medical insurance from the district and therefore this cost is overexaggerated.”

    But I feel like when doing the calculations you HAVE to assume everbody will take the insurance.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Yes, the ‘counter’ plan needs to include insurance as if all 175 employees will be insured through the District.

  18. If TE is such a horrible place, why are 175 people who are “professionals” with teaching certificates taking their fight public to keep their disrespected jobs in TESD? Read this blog from a year ago…it seems everyone needs a boogie an to rail against. And here comes a candidate to chime in and you insult them. Wow–what an attractive job! Why don’t some of you all post under your names and run yourself? Cowardly Anonymous?? Isn’t that what the BOS called these posters? TE is a ttop public district…none of you will speak up public ally…but you are experts?

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    Why didn’t you use your real name???

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    Not one of thinks TE is a horrible place. We think it’s an OUTSTANDING place-and we’re trying to keep it that way. We are taking the fight publice because what the Board and Administration is trying to pull is just plain out WRONG. It’s not the first time and frankly, we’re just fed up!We don’t use our real names because the bullies will come after us and maybe/probably fire us. Those of us who chose to take the fight public have already been chastised-almost immediately. People want to keep their jobs here because we love our jobs, we love working in our own neighborhoods with people we have known for years. Our kids have grown up together. We have worked together on PTOs/HSAs, scouts, cheered for our sports teams together. We truly are a community. We love our schools and most of all we care about the kids and what the future holds for them. Obviously, it’s not for the pay-we are the lowest paid in the district. Sometimes, just sometimes, people stand up and fight to do the right thing because it’s the RIGHT THING TO DO.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    support, exactly rright! I will tell you the intimidation may be illegal. I am not a lawyer but maybe this constituency group should have one. Maybe theres a generous attorney ( is this a pipedream) who would work pro bono to defend those employess, also taxpayers who are chastised for speaking up in the meeting, and meetings to come. Why should they be in fear of losing their jobs, which may happen anyway, by voicing their opinions respectfully or otherwise at meetings? Seems we are on dangerous territory. I can understand proslytizing (sp) on company whoops I mean school property during the school day. But at a public meeting? Attorneys? Care to weigh in??? thanks

    [Reply]

    concerned parent Reply:

    Being able to take a “fight” public, or voicing your opinion, is part of our constitutional rights, is it not? Intimidation of this right, is against the law. You certainly are not suggesting that 175 people sit back and allow there jobs to be outsourced without letting the public be aware of this fact, are you? If this group of people did not want to keep there jobs, we would not have any comments in this blog. You have a group of people who feel very disrespected right now, and to suggest they identify themselves by name, is stupid! You see what identifying themselves at a board meeting got them…….As I recall, when the teachers contract was being negotiated, there were a lot of un-named comments made on this site then too. Fellow employees and the community all backed the teachers during there time of negotiations, they need to stand beside this group now!!!

    [Reply]

  19. Sidelines…. lessons are being learned. One at a time. These “professionals” are giving back to the community. they could get higher paying jobs elsewhere perhaps, or stay home and play tennis. But for a nominal wage, and a professional environment, they are solid members of the community do a valuable service. This has been destroyed.. TE was once a top public district..

    Post under your names? Are you kidding? If you work in the district you can be fired.. TIme to bust some headlights.

    What do YOU do to give back to the c ommunity? You don’t post under your own name either

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    FF–I am not claiming to know answers to questions that have not been asked.Tyranny. Bullies. Arrogance? Administrators are all bullies…well the Devon principal was once a principal here, left and went to two other districts, and came back here. I think half the administrators taught here…and I see very little turnover.
    I get that your wife is an aide who could afford to,stay home and play tennis, but she clearly likes (liked) her job in this ugly environment, where TE used to be a top district (like last month). Does anyone remember the scandals in LMSD and the spying on people? The pri ncipal in UM who killed a teacher? Someone earlier posted they have worked under two Supers here…that means 25 years and NOW it’s unbearable?
    Does anyone reading/writing/and yes–whining here make any connection at all,to the fact that THE US ECONOMY STINKS. All those good times in the past were in fact Good Times. property values were going up, transfer taxes were in abundance. The retirement system was so flush they increased the multiplier.

    But all these problems are JUST about corruption in TE? A year ago you were all for letting the teachers strike, but now there is almost a cadence to this agitation…with countless anonymous derogatory comments from the sidelines. Jobs with lifetime pensions being unsustainable are now the fault of a board elected with no natural leaders. Dan Waters, renewed /hired by 3 separate boards and has announced a retirement at the end of this contract is suddenly a maniacal,tyrant because the admins came off a 3 year wage freeze…and we learn that because they agree to,forego sabatticals they get a bonus…which is now a rich man’s goal.

    So FF…your wife can go play tennis. Why would she put up with $12 – $15 an hour without full benefits? Especially since we only used to be a good district?

    Glad I have no plans to sell my home–because you would have to be an idiot and believe the Conestoga Profile, when right here on CM we learn that we only have a stable workforce because of Ted Foot or even Jamie McKenzie….oh wait–we were glad they left because they were horrible too. Amazing how our overworked and underpaid staff has managed to make so much progress without support. Oh wait–Aides and Paras ARE support…for a top ranked school district with highly compensated teachers and administrators.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    clearly sideline you have no idea about what makes these aides tick. and yes the economy is bad. so take resources and pile on the admin bonuses and raises. fire the aides. this administration has shot their load dont really care about lm nor upper whatever. this is te. different. and usef to be different. the fact is this board hasnt done homework. or felt no need to go against admin rubber stamping got our attention

    [Reply]

    concerned parent Reply:

    Plenty of things happen in the T/E School District that are swept under the rug before anyone hears of them. None of the school districts in are area are immune to scandals, some just handle them better then others.

    [Reply]

    Aides unite Reply:

    So Sidelines you miss the entire point.

    Let’s outsource (and allow a moron to do his homework and present this to the community) and board and Super who lets this clown keep his job and run our district down?
    Or bully the aides who are the back bone to our district.

    Pretty sure we have a few good stories in T/E if the walls could talk. Admin. can be sure they don’t get out.

    Let’s hire some no names with barely a GED
    to come in and give the kids who need it most the attention and skills to function in such a competitive school.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    Are the school board members giving back to the community too?

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    maybe, But their decisions in their positions as school board members impact the community at large. They chose to run, were elected and it is incumbent on them to be knowledgable and wise, even circumspect in their decision making. They are neither knowledgable nor wise, and clearly not circumspect. If not for ANn Crowley, this whole issue would have been conveniently swept under the voting rug in a consent agenda, much like the raises to the admin. So if you chose to give back to the community in this or any capacity, you better know what you are doing. There is work to be done, Sidelines. Much work. Perhaps an honest and open presentation, and discussion would help, even if the finances prove the board correct.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    I really wish Anne Crowley was running for reelection. Do you think she could have been bullied out of her seat?

    Shining Light Reply:

    Ms. Crowley is clearly an independent thinker and has the courage to stand alone . This is a very difficult thing to do. It probably helped her with this latest vote; when she stopped the vote of outsourcing to be slipped in a consent agenda in the hopes citizens would not find out, to know that she had vocal public support that would back her up but still a hard thing to do.

    Because of her courage and lone ranger mentality, administration may have tried to isolate her and make her feel uncomfortable about her views. This is what is so unique about Ms. Crowley, because most people would make the choice to stand for something they know is wrong in order keep group membership rather than speak up for what they know is right to face group isolation if they do.

  20. Sideline, are you the type of person who works at a job, fulfilling hopefully, is disrespected and thrown out the door, and just walks away? Im trying to figure out what kind of person you are.. Not a foxhole guy/gal thats for sure… illogical..

    [Reply]

  21. The attitude of the Administration staff is a culture issue. All one has to do is watch the arrogance and the attitudes in DC to see that it is contagious and is permeating to the levels of our school administration. They know best and please please do not question them. And the School Board allows this to happen…

    [Reply]

  22. I sure miss the painstaking work of Debbie Bookstaber & the TESD Public Information Committee. The board was engaged with the administration to communication effectively all facts and details to the public. The board members were actively vetting the content of information all along so that it would be accurate and clearly understood. Instead we have Art McDonnell conducting inept due diligence and Kevin Buraks communicating it.

    This issue as presented doesn’t include all the facts needed to make a decision. More questions than answers arose over health care coverage, especially with regard to financial implications and the standards of the recommended outsourcing organization. Outsourcing seems to the route that the administration rallies around for some reason. The administration isn’t leading with out of the box thinking. Remember the janitorial staff? Interesting that they never conveyed that the service delivered would the same or better. Is it really all about the bottom line and not the service delivered to the students?

    Pete Connors response to this issue speaks volumes in his desire to make a facts based decision to balance the school district budget. How can anyone make a decision on whether outsourcing this group of employees should be pursued if one doesn’t have adequate information? The facts & figures are needed. The board should be leading the charge. At least this candididate is.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    I don’t think Mr. Connors is leading the charge.

    He says “My approach would be to speak with those people who are the subject of the outsourcing and lay out the challenge of reducing costs. (This automatically validates this action as a real and O.K tactic, it is not)

    He says “Show the cost savings expected from outsourcing and lay out the challenges of reducing costs.” (Citizens do not have access to information that may lead to other cost saving measures.How can we make informed decisions on cost savings when we don’t know what all the costs are? Because administrators have chosen this segment of employees to use for cost savings does not make it valid or the only one.)

    He says “Show the cost savings expected from outsourcing and let the team have a chance to come up with their own solution. (They already work for low wages and now you propose that they not only work under the threat of losing their jobs on a daily basis but now you’re going to “allow them” come up with their own solution for saving their job too.) Brilliant!

    He says – “If outsourcing means a 12% pay cut……….would the aides, paras and subs be willing to take a portion of that to avoid outsourcing. This seems to be an incredibly dedicated group who really are doing it for the children. (So, this means they should be fine with taking a pay cut? I don’t understand that.)
    “What a positve message that would send to the community.” (I don’t think that is a positive message to send to the community. This is trying to turn a further insult to aides into a noble gesture for the community. It is not.)

    There is nothing new or creative in Mr. Connors proposal. Sadly, it’s more of the same.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    After just finishing and submitting my above post, I read Mr. Connor’s new post. Now he is changing his tune.

    What a good politician!

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    SL,

    Let’s not be too hard on Mr. Connors – he is at least willing to join the discussion, which is more than the others are willing to do. As an example, I sent Kevin Buraks an email and to date, there has been no response. If this community is to successfully weather the current storm, we need open communication between the School Board members and the residents.

    Shining Light Reply:

    O.K Pattye,

    Mr. Connors,

    Thank-you for stepping up and running. It is more than I am doing and for that you deserve respect. Thank-you for posting on C.M. It is more than the rest are doing and for that you deserve respect.

    SupportStaff Reply:

    I think maybe Mr. Connors was just clarifying where he stands-no one can guarantee that they won’t outsource. We need REAL numbers from the board-no some made up conjecture of what they think the numbers MIGHT be.
    Pattye, maybe Mr. Buraks has to talk to Dan Waters before he’s allowed to answer your email.

    [Reply]

  23. We still have not received responses from all the Aides/Paras in the District, so final numbers will be posted next week.

    Our goal is to receive 100 responses. Of the 175 “number” stated at the last Board meeting, many are Subs that are infrequently at school, and difficult to find or reach. There are approximately 100 Aides/Paras in Learning Support. We did receive numerous responses, a cross-section of Aides and Paraprofessionals. So, this is what we have today…More again, next week after we receive 100 reponses.

    Question #1: Are you currently covered by a spouse’s health insurance? (In some instances younger employees stated they were covered by their parent’s plan, some employees noted other sources of health care such as prior employer-sponsored plans from a previous employment, older employees noted on the questionaire that they were already on Medicare.

    87% had health insurance.

    Question #2: How likely are you to return as a STS employee at around $10/hour without PSERS?

    67% Would definitely not return
    29% Said probably not, but unsure
    4% declined to answer this question

    Question #3
    Would you adjust your schedule below 30 hours to remain a T/E employee. (Many were already well below that schedule already) Most were enthusiastic about cooperating to make this work for everyone.

    96% answered Yes. They are more than happy to adjust their schedules to help out.

    4% Answered No.

    [Reply]

  24. Lib, whats your answer to the psers issue? That will come up

    [Reply]

    Liba Reply:

    I personally do not have that answer but our elected Reps are currently working on that issue for PSERS. Let’s let them do their job and see what they come up with.

    [Reply]

    Liba Reply:

    I feel like I should state the obvious here: This highly educated and dedicated group of Paras are already a bargain at $13 +/- even with PSERS. To target them to save our budget problems is rediculous.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    ok fair enough. But I will all but guarantee this will be brought up by the bored and they will say they have no control over it and boom sorry!!

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    its funny in a way, but I think it was ann crowley who went on for a few minutes about the EIT, funny only because outsourced aides will be paying, well a wage tax to Media!! (wallingford?) and that money stays there. um… interesting…

  25. I feel sometimes that we are all acting in the moment, not thingink about the big picture, and don’t want the status-quo to change. Some things on my mind:

    – It will be interesting to see the comments here in a year after the aides unionize and are negotiating contracts.
    – Don’t forget TE is looking to be bankrupt by 2015-16.
    – I hope we keep this all in mind when an EIT is on the ballot.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    I think I read somewhere that they have 35M in reserve. As long as they stop giving out ridiculous bonuses, golden parachutes and bring THEIR health insurance plan in line with what companies are doing (paying about 30% themselves) we shouldn’t go bankrupt. It’s unbelievable to me that with all the “money men” we have in this area, that nobody can come up with a concrete plan of how to go ahead in the future with or without the burden of PSERS. That is really out of our control. We have to wait and see what Congress does with that-there is no alternative.
    I think it’s time that an EIT goes on the ballot, just like Anne Crowley said. Let’s see what happens.

    [Reply]

    Pete T. Reply:

    Yes, they have around 35 million dollars in the fund balance… And last year during the teacher negotiations and budget talks…Mathis was recommended by some as a way of covering the gap…

    On a side note, I find it somewhat amusing that with all of the worry and anger over getting the budget balanced last year and the teacher contract solved… In the end, they were able to add 3-5 million, whatever the number was, to the fund balance because they worked under budget… What luck?

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    Pete, maybe its time for an outside auditor to come in and examine the books and give a full public report on the state of our little economy? Until that occurs, there will be no trust in any of these numbers put forth by the corrupt secretive board. Corrupt is a strong word, and maybe they are just amateurs following the lead of administrators run amok

    Shining Light Reply:

    I think this is an excellent idea put forth by flyers fan. Let’s get an outside auditor to come in and examine the books and give a full public report on the state of our economy.

    Pete Connors (as opposed to Pete T.) you posted yesterday:

    You solve a problem by digging down to it’s root cause.

    I could not agree more. This suggestion by FF would do just that. This could lay a foundation of trust with the community and we could all go forward knowing (not guessing) about which numbers are real and which are not.

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    There is nothing more transparent than a school district’s budget and the actuals. There is a proposed preliminary budget, a preliminary budget, a proposed final budget, a final budget (June), monthly actual expenditures by category, a check register each month and a final accounting of the year in October. All one has to do is invest the time to read the reports. (Ray Clarke comes to mind)
    .
    There was a surplus from the 2011-12 school year. It was in the 3% range. This is an excellent result considering the variables. The state had not yet finalized their contribution to the district when the budget was passed . What is the effect of a new teacher contract if there is one for the year? What will healthcare claims be? How much can the district expect from bond refinancing? How about home sales (transfer taxes), new home building (interim taxes) and non-payment of taxes (delinquent taxes)?
    .
    The board has behaved badly with respect to outsourcing and should be held accountable, but this is undue criticism. Imagine the howls if the budget was overspent by 3%.

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    The board has behaved badly with respect to outsourcing and should be held accountable, but this is undue criticism …

    Keith, the problem is that if the Board had not made some of the previous decisions, maybe the criticism would not be reaching this level now. It appears that the Board is relying completely on recommendations from the Superintendent not just outsourcing, but on many District matters.

    As you say, “All one has to is invest the time to read the reports” as Ray Clarke and Neal Colligan regularly do. But rather than doing their homework and thoroughly reviewing the work of the administration, some of our School Board members choose to simply accept it. If Waters or McDonnell says it’s so, it appears that the Board just goes along. We saw this happen with the hiring of Andy Chambers as the safety expert and then again with the administrator raises and retirement bonuses buried in the consent agenda. Once we got to this outsourcing debacle, a tract record is in place. Clearly, the outsourcing costs do not make sense as presented by the business manager. Clearly the value of the aides and paras far exceeds the $10/12 hr that they make and that these employees could never be replaced by STS or any other temp agency. Our aides and paras are not driving 40 miles to TE for these jobs — they live here and are taxpayers in this District and deserve far better.

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Pattye,
    .
    My point was – “There is nothing more transparent than a school district’s budget” and there is no need for an “outside auditor to come in and examine the books”.
    .
    Yes, criticism of the board and administration is warranted for many other reasons, but criticism for a budget surplus is unwarranted. Nor does it make sense to bring in an auditor as a result of the surplus.
    .
    When the emotion dies down we’ll talk about a win-win-win opportunity missed for the district, the paras and STS.

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    A comment for Keith, in response to:

    “There is nothing more transparent than a school district’s budget and the actuals”

    Well, maybe that’s true months after the year-end when the auditor has been and gone.

    But right now, ten months into the year, we (and probably the Board is included in the “we”) have absolutely no idea how the year is going to turn out. There is discussion of all those revenue items you mention, but as I reported here a while ago, when asked specifically about expenses, we were told they require further “analysis”. This at at time when budget are being set and (last year) contracts being negotiated. Healthcare expenses clearly come in late, but that’s why we have a fund balance reserve.

    I feel like the proverbial mushroom …..

    Is the Board content to be treated this way? How long before they do something? Would the candidates posting here be taking any action? What?

    BTW: I saw a post lamenting the absence of Ms Bookstaber and her Communications Committee. We’ve remarked on that in our home, too. It was a sad day when the Board (under previous leadership) abolished this function.

    Aides unite Reply:

    Wasn’t there $ they “Found” suddenly too. Who was doing that # crunching? After the secretaries gave up a raise to save the custodians.

  26. negotiations are the spice of life.. So negotiate. But the school board cant give away the store. seems like they are a weak negotiator

    [Reply]

  27. Forget about salary give backs, if the administrators would simply tear themselves from the cadillac healthcare plan, ALL OF THIS would go away in an instant.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    Admins have the teacher plan, right? This board is asleep at the switch, but to be clear, Dan Waters has one child, long graduated from college, and the then board gave him tuition (matching the program Penn gives its physicians…under board Pres. Mahoney, at Penn Health). And Adminsnused to have just a fixed amount for benefits. this board allowed their contract to change to match the teachers. Elect someone with a clue…

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    sidelines NOW you are getting it!

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    THANK-YOU sidelines…. THIS board allowed their contract to change to match the teachers. BRILLIANT!!!

    I was often confused by the comments of a past board who would often write in to complain about this very issue, thinking he/she was the one who caused it. This is great info now and would have helped a lot a year ago. Do you have any other revealing info you could shine a light on? You sound like you know what you’re talking about and I have a feeling you know a lot more. Any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated.

    [Reply]

  28. Here is an interesting perspective. I think the school district is spending about $19,000 a student. I am sure Neal or Ray can confirm/correct If I am far off. So here is a question. If you had to write a check for $19,000 for each of your children in the district would you be a little more concerned about the budget? Would you want the school board to be careful about how they spent your money? I had three children in the district at once. I would have had to write a $57,000 check. I am sure i would have been paying more attention. About 75% of the taxpayers in the district do not have children in the schools. They are our friends and neighbors and they are paying for our children. Shouldn’t we be as careful with their money as we would be if we had to write the check.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    Pete, I somewhat agree that you have to watch out for everyone, but when today’s “oldtimers” did have children in the schools, the generation before was paying for those kids. It’s a circle. My 5 children are all done in the district schools now and it’s my turn to continue to contribute to the kids coming up now. I think it’s great that $19,000 per student is spent. What I take issue with is my hard earned money (little that it is) going for a bonus or golden parachute to someone who already has a ridiculous amount of job “perks” including me putting his 2 children through college!

    [Reply]

    Pete Connors Reply:

    I agree with your point. When I woke up this morning I remembered an incident from last week. On my drive to work I pass a WaWa (don’t we all). The rest room was closed for service. As I waited the lovely manager of that store, Donna, came out of the rest room with the mop. I told her I was impressed with her leadership. She said I would never ask an employee to do something I would not do. That is a leader. When I got to the office I emailed WaWa to commend them on having such and incredible leader.
    Do we have an incredible management team? Is the admin group willing to show leadership and take a similar pay cut and pension cut as they are asking of the aides, paras and subs? You lead by example. That is how you build trust and create teamwork.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Pete, the answer is obviously no, the Administration does not lead by example. The School Board approved the Administrator’s pay raise and retirement bonus in their February consent agenda. This action on the part of the School Board was wrong on two levels — (1) the public was denied public discussion in advance of the vote and (2) how can the District afford these benefits to the highly paid Administrators and 3 months later be immersed in outsourcing discussions of the lowest-paid.

    I agree that the success of an organization is dependent on trust — in the case of the School District, the public must trust both the Administration (management team) and the School Board Directors. It is critical that the School Board show leadership through their governance of the Administration — it can not be the other way around with the Administration directing the moves of the School Board.

    flyersfan Reply:

    Yes, pete! this is all ingeniously hidden much like payroll deductions for most of the working Americans. Can you imagine the uproar if every quarter every w2 American had to write a check? You can bet there would be a lot more involved citizens vis a vis the state and federal budget.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Yes Pete, I agree, we should be careful with the money of 75% of people in the district who have no children in the schools. We can do this by demanding full disclosure from administrators and board members regarding the cost side of the budget.

    It’s sad when our longest seving board member, Pete Motel, resorts to name calling citizens (budget hawks) simply because they want to engage in the process of helping with budget control and finance management. What kind of board member would name call capable, skilled tax paying citizens?

    The longer board members serve, the more difficult they are to influence. You have that going for you, Pete. I hope that if you are elected, you will welcome citizen input, open the books completely, for all eyes to see and respect the help these fine citizens want to contribute to the process.

    Are you friendly with some on the board now? How will that influence your ability to stay independent?

    [Reply]

  29. Now you’re talking Pete and I sincerely hope it’s genuine because you’ve gone all the way from:

    “If outsourcing means a 12% pay cut………would the aides, paras and subs be willing to take a portion of that to avoid outsourcing.

    To:
    Is the admin group willing to show leadership and take a similar pay cut and pension cut as they are asking the aides [aras ans subs?

    in less than 1 day. Are you desperate to get elected and will say anything? or have your views really been influenced by reading this blog?

    [Reply]

    Pete Connors Reply:

    I am enjoying the conversations and understanding more. My views are not evolving….I am digging deeper in to my understanding of leadership. The thought of Donna, the WaWa manager came to me this morning. Personally there have been many times in the 32 year life of my company when things were not going well and I took a pay cut….no one else. There were times when senior management as a team took a pay cut….why, because we are the people steering the ship…..the workers had little control over where we were headed, why should they be the first to feel the pain.
    Desperate to get elected? Let’s see, this is one elected position with no pay, no pension and not much appreciation from the community…..and not many people willing to run….it will eat in to my free time and probably have a high level of frustration. Clearly this is a job I covet.
    Seriously, I am at the age where I can be philosophical…..the question I ask is can I make a difference. I spent yesterday at Graduation for Vally Forge Military College. Five cadets got their associates degrees and two of them got an ARMY commission because a group of local citizens, which I have the honor of leading, have raised over $1million to help finance their educations. The group meets once a month and it is loosely organized and frustrating at times. I often ask myself why I am doing it. Then I get to watch graduation and meet the families and see the smiles and listen to the brighter futures and I know we have made a difference. Can I make a difference for TE? I am not sure…but I am willing to try, and I won’t dodge questions. If you run in to someone who knows me I can assure you they will confirm that I give it to them straight.
    Now to lighten things a bit watch this incredible TED talk. Ken Robinson will amuse you and make you think about education possibilities. Is he giving us a hint about some of the kids with IEPs? Are we trying to force them in to a fixed concept of education? It does not seem I can imbed the link so google “Sir Ken Robinson schools kill creativity”
    Ask yourself….who in the district is looking around the edges of education to see the future? It is coming and will unleash a flood of creativity and excitement for our children.
    If you enjoy that talk then google” Sugata Mitra kids teach themselves”

    [Reply]

    Concerned Parent Reply:

    Pete-thank you for taking part in these discussions. I look forward to reading more from you as you come to a deeper understanding of leadership and how you will operate should you be elected to the school board.

    [Reply]

  30. You say your views are not evolving, that you are “digging deeper into an understanding of leadership” and that is the reason for your complete about face on the question of whether aides should take a pay cut to avoid outsourcing? and now you say is the admin. willing to show leadership and take a pay cut? O.K Pete.

    Past, current and candidates for the School Board talk about the no pay, no pension, time consuming, frustration filled job of being a director. As John says, Look, no one is forcing you to run. All of you moan about it, yet come election time there you are, standing in line, eager for the next 4 years. Let’s be honest Pete. All of you get something out of it or you wouldn’t do it.

    Pete Motel has been doing it 12 years. 12 Years!!! Please don’t tell me he doesn’t get way more out of it than he puts in.

    I hope that you can make a difference for TE. I appreciate that you are willing to try. I don’t go by what people say. Words are easy. I go by what people do. We’ll see Pete, we’ll see.

    [Reply]

  31. before we propose solutions focusing on pay cuts, be sure you READ the contracts and employment agreements in place, and the PA code and constitutional provisions for certain types of employees. and the school does have an annual audit…ask to read it. But don’t solve problems with hypothetical solutions. I don’t think pay cuts are an option for the class of employees…but they do not have individual contracts. All but the business manager are tenured, so any could return to the classroom.

    Shining–it is a stretch to say people get something out of it I think, and Pete M. Is a dermatologist with a few kids, a boy scout leader and general good guy. The fact that it took until now for him to annoy us means he’s been pretty invisible…until now. like I said before, would any of this be as troubling or even be happening if the US economy, and our lack of national leadership was not so lamentable,? Why do volunteers do anything? Why do our paras work for $12 an hour and no benefits? keep digging.

    [Reply]

    shining light Reply:

    Sideline

    Who does the annual audit? Is it in house or does a third party come in!?

    I don’t think its a stretch to say that someone who has been doing something they choose to do for 12 years is getting something out of it and something big. Pete m. Loves this position. You can see it in his demeanor and the way he conducts himself. Nothing wrong with that. Ex board members who served 12 years 12 years ago post on this forum and its not because they don’t like it. They even admit trying to stop. They enjoy it and get. Something out of it or they wouldn’t be doing it.

    I don’t think Anne Crowley enjoyed it, I think it was wearing on Betsy fadem. They’re. Both stepping down.

    I think Pete Connor’s wants to try it out and see if he likes it.

    Why do you tell us to keep digging? Why don’t you tell us what we would find.

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  32. Sidelines, you are off the bench and hitting home runs. Just think how better we would be with better employment numbers nationally>? I have said that on the federal level, the current powers that be view this as zero sum. This is the pie and how do we carve it up, as if we had a right to do so. There is no growth in the agenda… we are here experiencing it first hand.. there is a wet blanket over our economy with taxes, mandates and regulations that stifle growth.. And I am last on line to consider tax increases, and I understand that during teacher contract negotiations last year the board was loathsome to enact an EIT if it would pass the voters because it would be a “pot of gold” for teachers to claim. Still, how much austerity do we want? One may ask, if the aides are so giving as a group why would they not work for free? And that may be a fair question in other circumstances but it goes back to the allocation of funds, secrecy in doing so, and a general lack of respect. You know, raises are appreciated, but their effect is short lived. Studies have shown that after the excitement and good feeling of raises wear off, after a very short time, employees gain their satisfaction by working in a good, healthy environment, where the boss is respected, fair and ethical. At this point, the atmosphere is so toxic that some of these women (and men) would maybe think of just leaving no matter what the final decision is. What keeps bringing them back is their literal love for the kids, their interest in doing good work and making a difference. I am not sure how to cleanse the atmosphere; clearly it will take extraordinary leadership from the board to make a difference. This board can find a way to maintain the current status of the aides if they wanted to, if they worked to find the answer. Not sure they have what it takes though. that june meeting should be wild. Hope all sides bring legitimate info,

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  33. The retirement bonus was approved in the late 90s…it was quid pro quo. Like the custodians, the admins would have to agree to give it up…

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  34. There are so many assumptions on here it is absurd.

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    flyersfan Reply:

    lets have a few assumptions.. there are plenty of unknowns.. how to unlock the truth?

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  35. Let’s ask them to give the retirement bonus up. Can’t wait to see that vote, wonder if they will be as gracious as the custodians.

    I will never understand nor will ANY Board ever be able to justify that unnecessary expense to the taxpayers. This is not a “for profit” corporation.
    This is one expense that must be stopped. Keeping community members employed could be a reality if these and ALL bonus would just stop. The salaries of all administrators, supervisors, and confidential secretaries are well above today’s standards…..and then there are the aides and paras…

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    Sidelines Reply:

    Sara-you need to,read the sabbatical laws/rules for all educators in the school code. They get a year off at half pay after 7 years or so, and can do it more than once. The bonus you are against is only paid if the admin does not take that time off. I am not sure of the exact details, but I think keith explained it before about how his district has had to deal with replacing people on sabatticals. So I dont think this is really a bonus. I think any of the administration or teachers can take it.

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    flyersfan Reply:

    what bonuses were just recently approved by consent agenda

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    Sidelines Reply:

    None new. The agreement was renewed from prior years. They could not have taken it back I don’t think. What I think was in the consent agenda was the compensation agreement being renewed.

    flyersfan Reply:

    so if they couldn’t take it back, it still had to be renewed?

  36. Audit is done by Maille Falconero…an excellent accounting firm in Oaks. School district accounting is not as straight forward as normal, for profit business accounting. We are lucky to have citizens like Neal and Ray who are skilled at wading through the data.
    I admire Mrs Crowley as being clear minded and direct. I spoke to her after the last finance committee meeting to let her know how impressed I was with her contribution. Despite having some differing political perspectives from mine I belive her motivations are always driven by her desire to focus on the children. I worked with Mrs Fadem on TE soccer and she was tireless and so organized it made my life as a coach quite simple. They should both be commended for their service.

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    Sidelines Reply:

    Audit firm is awarded based on bids.
    school district accounting is different because they are not revenue and expense dependent..they are budget and fund accounting, they don’t have a bottom line but have to keep books with depreciation. Government accounting is a last year/this year kind of mystical reporting, but it’s also about income vs. expenditures….just cannot reach totals until the ear is closed out.
    No — teachers do not get bonuses. Sorry for the confusion..They all are entitle to sabatticals. the “bonus” is payment in lieu of not taking a sabatticals for admins, as you cannot just have an admin step in and out as you can teachers. Also, in reading earlier, the admins gave up cashing out sick days (not sure if that is still true) at retirement. With 10-12 sick days a year over a 30 year career, some people could accumulate a years’ worth rather easily. I don’t know if the teachers can cash out sick days or not, but under govt accruing, the district has to have money in reserve for obligations like that.

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  37. Pete,

    Thanks for the information. Did your friends on the board let you know the name of the accounting firm who does the audit? I’m wondering how they explained the consent agendas and the raises and the bonuses to the administrators and the complete lack of respect to the aides in this whole outsourcing issue. I would very much like to understand the justification for all of it. Dr. Waters explained he wanted the administrators to have the raises before he retired. What do you think about that answer?

    When you say “school district accounting is not as straight forward as normal, for profit business accounting.” What does that mean.? It’s very leading and implies there might be a valid reason citizens are kept in the dark. Every for profit business is unique and presents it’s own individual challenges, just like school districts. They can be “not as straight forward” too. Look what happened to Enron. (Not saying our school district is like Enron, just an example of not so straight forward for profit business with in the dark accounting practices.)

    Those are nice words about Neal, Ray and Ms. Crowley. Do they mean that Neal and Ray will be included in the process if you are elected? I believe Ms. Crowley’s motivations are always driven by her desire to focus on the children too. Are you implying that yours are too or that you like it that Ms. Crowley’s are?

    I understand tough choices have to be made and people may not get everything they want but I also believe decisions have to make sense and reflect that they are made with the best interests of the tax payer and children in mind.

    I like that you are an entrepreneur with no kids in the class room. I understand that it is a volunteer postion and many board members have jobs and family responsibilities that make it difficult to explore alternatives and solutions that run counter to what they are told to do and think. . Hopefully, you’ll have the time and energy to devote to more indepth, out of the box thinking. Entrepreneurs generally have a different mentality than the corporate executive or school administrator. They are straight talkers who demand transparency and accountability. They understand that bringing different people to the table with wide ranges of experience and education produces more alternative solutions to problems.

    Hopefully, you can bring this entrepreneurial spirit to the board and infuse your ideas into an established culture which reflects decisions are made based on self interest and allegiance to administrators over public interest and allegiance to the tax payer and children.

    Good luck Mr. Connors. We’ll be watching.

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  38. Can anyone answer the question of whether teachers are being given bonuses??????. That is what I heard. Crazy if true, going on the fact that they plan on firing others…..

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    TE Teacher Reply:

    When the contract was negotiated last year, it was another salary and step freeze for this year…. And it’s a salary and step freeze again for next year, but every teacher gets a $1000… They make it a bonus so they can prevent everyone from moving a step on the salary scale. From how I understand it they offset most of the cost through their ability to now have furlough days where they do not have teachers come in and therefore don’t have to pay them for that day (which takes that money out of the paycheck unlike a Holiday)

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    Ray Clarke Reply:

    What does it say about communications when a TE Teacher does not know that the 2013/14 one-time bonus is in fact $2,500 per FTE.

    It was suggested at the Board meeting that a “transitional bonus” be paid to those impacted by the out-sourcing proposal. In the event that a case can be made for some changes to the compensation package, it seems to me that such a bonus might be a useful element of the solution.

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    TE Teacher Reply:

    It says that the money and my salary is not a factor in why I do what I do… I could have looked it up, and been exact, but I was just trying to provide a quick answer for Joan…

    flyersfan Reply:

    what do you mean, Ray, by saying “in that event some changes can be made to the compensation package?” (not exact quote)..

  39. As a minister and a long time child advocate, I have devoted my life to helping those in need. I am deeply troubled by the actions of our school board and administrators in the treatment of the District’s workers. I stood against outsourcing when our custodial staff was threatened with this same strategy and I will stand again. No one should be intimidated or threatened with job loss due to a difference of opinion. I offer my assistance to our aides and para professionals to help them fight for the cause of fairness and transparency.

    I understand we are in the midst of a financial storm that challenges our district. But we have a choice. We can keep tossing heavy objects off the boat until there is nothing or no one to keep the ship moving. Or we can put our faith and trust in people. What distinguishes this district is a combination of parents and workers who dedicate their lives to help our children reach their potential. I know we can’t give the bank away, but we must do everything we can to prevent a decline in the quality of our schools. I fear that making bad choices now in the name of austerity will cause great harm in the future.

    The administration and school board must approach budget challenges and worker expense with vision and respect. At last week’s school board meeting, I was embarrassed that the board I trusted and respected appeared uninformed and were leaning on Administrators to answer residents’ basic questions. When you have the most precious element in the community under your jurisdiction, I expect you to be diligent in providing an educated, thoughtful vision that will preserve the greatness of our community. I have worked hard to provide my children with the best educational opportunities possible. I did not move here for average schools. We deserve better leadership that partners with all the community to find reasonable solutions that maintain the excellence of our educational program.

    I don’t believe government has all the answers. We need more open public forums and a citizen committee that can serve as a subcommittee to the school board. As citizens of this community we also must stay in tune with what is happening. Easier said than done. We all lead busy lives. My dad always taught me to never take things you love for granted. I am not here to criticize those who disagree with me or tear anyone down. I am willing to work with anyone from any walk of life or political persuasion to achieve excellence for reasonable cost.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    I stood against outsourcing when our custodial staff was threatened with this same strategy and I will stand again.

    Scott Dorsey is clear where he stands on outsourcing.

    The administration and school board must approach budget challenges and worker expense with vision and respect. At last week’s school board meeting, I was embarrassed that the board I trusted and respected appeared uninformed and were leaning on Administrators to answer residents’ basic questions.

    He also is not afraid to point to the seemingly lack of understanding of School Board members, even those that are members of his own political party. I too am troubled by the way some Board members consistently defer their responses to the Administration.

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  40. Thank you for speaking Pete Connors and Scott Dorsey your words and willing to listen and care about this district is what may save it. That and realizing this administration had it’s time.
    It’s time for change!

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  41. Scott
    At the very least, tell us about a solution…the revenues are an issue. How do you approach that? We know tomorrow is election day…

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  42. seems like there is always money floating around in some fund..my bet is after the aides are axed there will be an announcement of positive balances previously unmentioned.

    take it from that fund( name escapes me) that has money in it to support the schools…sorry, its late.

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  43. The revenues are an issue because they are shrinking. We can’t control the revenues. Have to take an honest, open look at the expenses. We can control expenses.

    Parking spaces at over a couple hundred thousand dollars? Does that make sense? Especially when we have chosen an expense saving strategy that outsources a valued segment of our employees. The cost savings for outsourcing are suspect at best. Parking space issue is pretty cut and dry. Are there other expenses like this we could take a look at? Hopefully, interested, capable, tax paying citizens will be allowed to have a look soon.

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  44. I’ll take an aide over a parking space any day of the week.

    You may argue that a couple hunderd thousand dollars is small potatoes when considering a budget of 107 million. O.K. how about health care benefits. The administrators and teachers would still enjoy benefits better than the average employee in the private sector if capable, educated, citizens were allowed to take a look at bringing these benefits in line with every day working Americans who are taking pay cuts, and benefit cuts and who are paying for these very high healthcare costs for district employees.

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  45. If you want to get an idea of TESD future projects & expenses (yes another proposed parking lot in 2017 )look up the Capital Sources & Uses 10 YR Plan…also the Infrastructure Update 2013 Plan & Project Cost Estimates.. Money put in from the General Fund & Bond runs out in 2015/16..so they’ll need another bond to pay for these projects. The district’s architect gets paid by the hour & gets 6-7% depending on the cost of these projects except for roofing. A lot of taxpayer money gets spent in Facilities.

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  46. Parking lots are capital expenditures. Salaries are related to revenues. Different funding source. It’s why the teachers got a bonus and not a raise…no money for recurring expenses, but there is for one time non-recurring ones.

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  47. Side, salaries are related to revenue. Revenues are going down and the board approves raises so salaries go up. This makes no sense.

    Common sense and economic reality dictate that we cut back on capital expenditures. Isn’t facilities Pete motel?

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    From A Distance Reply:

    …from Sidelines – “Different funding source?”

    Not quite. It may come from a different account, but it’s ALL taxpayer money.

    When the Facilities Committee looks at their capital expense projects for the next 10 years and the Finance Committee goes looking for yet another huge bond, remember it’s not “free” money. It’s just like a credit card and the taxpayers get the bill.

    No wonder that property taxes go up every year.

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