Outcome of TE School Board Meeting more suited for black roses than white ribbons!

Much like the last TE School Board meeting on May 13, the audience was filled with residents and staff, including aides, paraeducators, paraprofessionals, teachers and TENIG members … the outcome of the evening more suited for black roses than white ribbons!

The same 9-0 Board vote to cut the weekly hours of aides and paras to part-time, 27.5 hours could have taken place in the first 5 minutes of the meeting, rather than dragging the vote out until 10:30 PM.  To those of us who attended, we all now know that the minds of the school board members were made up before the meeting ever started.

During the first public comment period of the night, TESD resident Neal Colligan delivered a statement that included the timeline of activity surrounding the decision on the District’s aides, paraeducators and paraprofessionals.  The ever-changing status of this group of District employees began six weeks ago with the outsourcing of their jobs to STS.  When STS pulled its proposal, the District turned to another outsourcing company CCRES.  Its unclear what happened with the CCRES outsourcing plan – that plan disappeared without explanation.  In its place, the employees were notified about 10 days ago, that their hours would be cut to part-time.

Colligan stated, “No one has seen a vote on any of these decisions.  The community, the employees who live in our community and the members of the public who have taken an interest in this issue ask for that vote tonight.”  He asked that the Board listen to the residents before taking the vote.

Often we hear residents complain about a local issue but when you suggest they speak up at a public hearing the answer most likely is this:  “Why bother, no one listens.”  Nothing truer could have been said about last night’s school board meeting! After a series of meetings, phone conversations and emails with many of the District aides and paras, it was clear they feared retribution if they spoke publically.  Believing that the Board needed to hear their testimonials, I collected personal statements to read.  With the 5 min. limit imposed for individual resident comments, I was only able to get through two letters.  I appealed for audience volunteers and residents lined up to read aloud the letters into the  meeting testimony.

The thoughtfully written personal statements are with an insight that only comes with years of experience in the school district.  Although personally affected by the decision to reduce their hours to part-time, the overriding concern of aides and paraprofessionals in their statements, is for the education, safety and well-being of our District’s children.

Click here to read full text of personal statements written the TE School Board.  Below are excerpted quotes:

  –  There is no substitute, when working with all children and especially kids with needs, for consistency, continuity, trust and relationship.

–  The aides and paras have been treated as puppets and the Administration and School Board are the Puppet Masters.

–  The loss of hours, I fear, will cause unnecessary turnover of staff with detrimental effects on school programs and the students of the district.

–  We go the extra mile because many of us had our own children go through TE and we are proud of the TE tradition.  You cannot pay for that.  Many of the aides were originally volunteers at their schools, putting in many hours making TE schools what they are.

–  What does affect me is seeing our school district begin a race to the bottom under the care of this school board.  The beginning of the “Walmart-ization” of our district as one speaker called it at a recent meeting.

–  There is a saying in organizational psychology, “If you want to know what is important to leaders don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.”  What do you think your end run around the ACA says about how important the aides are to this school board?

–  The school board doesn’t care about us and they never will.

–  The relationship and bond between the aides and the children will be shattered with a revolving door of strangers in their lives. Beyond the nightmare of scheduling problems with all the part-time workers, are you prepared for the security risks that will come with brining all these new people into the schools?

–  If something bad happens as a result of your actions towards the aides and paraprofessionals of TE, it’s going to be your fault and no one else’s – you will have to live with the consequences.

In addition to the anonymous testimonials read for the record, several brave employees delivered their own written statements to the School Board, which contained similar sentiments.  Audience members who volunteered to read the personal statements, added their own messages of support for the aides, and encouragement to the Board to do the right thing.  On behalf of the TESD teachers, Laura Whittaker, president of the teachers union, delivered an impassioned plea to save the hours of the aides and paras, describing their important contribution to the District’s children and their families.

Following-up on her comments presented at last week’s Finance Committee meeting, TESD resident Joanne Sonn, sought and received guidance from the National Women’s Law Center, a Washington DC advocacy group with expertise in healthcare law.  Sonn presented a letter (click here to read) to the Board from Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel at the Women’s Law Center. The letter puts forth the assertion that under current laws a self‐insured plan  (to which TESD switched in 2011) can be in compliance with nondiscriminatory testing regulations while still offering a separate group of 30‐40 hr. /week workers a lesser valued plan.  As a result of Palanker’s information, Sonn respectfully requested the Board to reconsider its plans to avoid Affordable Care Act compliance by reducing the hours of District employees to part-time status.

The legal opinion of Palanker was dismissed by the District’s solicitor Ken Roos and the benefit expert from his firm, attorney Rhonda Grubbs.  They remained constant in their advice to the Board … claiming that the only way to avoid the ‘possible’ penalties of the ACA was to reduce employee hours to under 30 hours per week.  It was stated and re-stated by some Board members that the District could not afford the cost of healthcare for the lowest paid District employees nor could we afford the cost of possible associated penalties for ACA non-compliance.

So … in the end, the Board took a vote (9-0) to decrease the hours of aides, paraeducators and paraprofessionals to 27.5 hours a week.  The vote also represented a decision not to listen to the residents, parents, aides and paras, teachers or the senior counsel of the National Women’s Law Center. Instead, all school board members chose to follow the opinion of the District solicitor.  Sadly, the takeaway from the Board’s action is that if you live in this community and feel that, you are not being listened to or acknowledged, you are probably right.

The Board’s claims that the District cannot afford healthcare for the lowest paid and/or the possible financial risks for ACA noncompliance may work for some residents.  However, these claims of fiscal responsibility ring false when we learn that the District, for another year in a row, has uncovered a multi-million budget surplus. Or that the Board can afford to give bonuses to administrators and raises to the District solicitor and his attorneys … or that the Board can stand behind a 10-year $50 million ‘dream’ facilities  plan to be paid for by taxpayers for years to come.  Beyond our yearly tax increases, we have a school board who chooses to go after revenue from nonprofit organizations and seeks to charge taxpayers for the use of tennis courts.

The most troubling aspect of the school board meeting was the Board’s total disregard for the residents and their message.  Our ‘collective’ votes elected these people to listen to us; but based on last night, it was obvious that what the community wants is not part of the Board’s agenda.  Residents need to learn to vote for representatives that will listen and serve us instead of only pandering to us during election time.

To review … Of the nine currently serving school board members, Anne Crowley and Betsy Fadem, are not seeking re-election, their terms end December 31, 2013.  Kevin Buraks and Rich Brake are seeking re-election and their names will appear on the November ballot.  Buraks and Brake’s opponents, Pete Connors and Scott Dorsey, respectfully, support the District staff and spoke out last night against the Board’s decision to cut the hours of aides and paraeducators.  In addition, Connors questioned the proposed budget expenditures and surplus and to his credit, Dorsey asked for (and received) an apology from school board member Pete Motel for his behavior toward resident Joanne Sonn at the Finance Committee meeting.

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Note:  With the 10:30 PM vote to decrease the aides and paras to 27.5 hours, over half of the audience got up and walked out, including myself.  For those that remained, it is my understanding that Rich Brake delivered a lengthy personal statement and presumably the 2013-14 budget was passed.  This was the first time I have ever left a public meeting before it ended but somehow there seemed little reason to stay.  For those that did stay, please fill us in on what we missed.

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  1. I have to say I was very disappointed and frankly, embarrassed last night. I feel like I totally wasted my time. Months of time. It was quite clear from the blank stares on most of the board members faces that they didn’t want to hear anything we had to say. I stayed on at the meeting until 11:15. Yes, Rich Brake gave us another history lesson-this time about how his Dad (I think) received a wonderful private education for free…blah, blah, blah. Why don’t we have a five minute sign to hold up for them when they go on and on about nothing that is relevant to us?
    Anne Crowley did say that she read each and every email and appreciated the opinions.She spoke again about transparency and items on the Consent Agenda.She tried to get some answers to questions that people asked early on that were kind of skipped over. One was what happened with CCRES. Buraks said that there was never formally anything in writing with them-it was just something they were looking into. The prices came back too high. He did say that he hopes many people will still attend meetings even though this issue is done for now and to especially attend the comittee meetings as “that’s where most of the hard work is done”. The voted to pass the budget with Crowley and Brake dissenting because they felt the tax increase is not needed seeing as how we have a surplus. I was a little bleary-eyed at this point and I can’t remember anything more right now. When I left, there were still quite a few people present. (Oh and 2 police officers at the door!)

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Mr. Buraks said he hopes many people will still attend committee meetings. I find that to be a very disingenuous statement by the school board president. When citizens go to meetings and ask questions or try to collaborate with committee members, they are met with, “we don’t want signs at our meetings”, we don’t want to kick the hornets nest” by affording you access to information. (Art McDonnell at $160,000) BTW, Art is now in charge of answering citizen e-mails to the board because Karen C. said they get so many.

    Where is Pete Connors’ and Kevin Buraks’ voting zone? Does anyone know street names and geographic area.

    I saw signs in Chesterbrook for Dorsey and Brake. Where is their zone and geographic voting area.

    [Reply]

    Insider Reply:

    So I guess this will be your first time voting in a school board election? You should be able to contact Voter Services at Chester County to ask them if you are in region 1 or 2 in Tredyffrin. That will determine who you can vote for.

    [Reply]

    shining light Reply:

    That’s not whaţ I meant.

    Jamie Reply:

    Insider,
    Your rude comment was totally uncalled for. YOU are one of the bullies everyone speaks about. This blog obviously intimidates the daylights out of you. You always post as though you are coming out swinging. Get over yourself.

    Sidelines Reply:

    Who cares Insider. All 9 board members are apparently stupid and clueless. It’s impossible that 9 people could hold the same opinion and not have it be a conspiracy.

    Bullies — this process is completely cyber-bullying. PASS (google it from today)

    Shining Light Reply:

    Side

    How would you interpret a comment like “I would like more information on what other districts do regarding wages, with paras and aides…….” from a board member who supposedly has attended many meetings on the subject?

    Do you think it is reasonable for a citizen to expect a board member to know that information……..especially after it has been mentioned many times during this process? It seems like it would be a helpful piece of information to have when making a decision like this.

    It begs the question……….how did board members reach their decision? What data influenced their decision How did they get the information they used to make their decision? Why aren’t citizens afforded an explanation?

    Insider Reply:

    Jamie –

    You think my comment was rude and bullying, well you are entitled to your opinion. However, I think it is fair comment to point out that Shining – who at times accounts for at least 50% of the blog entries here – does not seem to know where to vote.

    And I am not the Bully here – for Shining, everything is a big conspiracy – everyone is incompetent and “corrupt” and should be fired or thrown out of office. The assumed “facts” are mind blowing. Shining has zero credibility so far as I am concerned.

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    See the following:

    http://www.tesd.net/Page/237
    Members and their regions. Component precincts listed at the bottom of the page. Easttown is one region.

    http://www.tredyffrin.org/index.aspx?page=90
    Links to maps of Tredyffrin precincts.

    [Reply]

    shining light Reply:

    Thank-you. That’s what I meant.

    Jamie Reply:

    Thank you Ray. There really are decent people left in this world. your kindness is appreciated.

    SupportStaff Reply:

    Also, Karen Cruikshank said she would like more information on what other districts do with their aides and paras, are our wages competitive, etc. I think they were all told several times what the other districts in our area do-they offer health insurance benefits!Another example of the Board not listening at all…

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Yes, it has repeatedly been stated that other districts offer health insurance to ALL full-time employees, regardless of the level of employee. Interesting that Ms. Cruikshank would lament on this topic AFTER voting to decrease the hours of all employees working 30 hrs. or more to part-time status. Didn’t she also talk about how many, many meetings that the Board had to discuss this situation — and the topic of compensation of the aides and paras never surfaced in these meetings? Wow …

    [Reply]

    shining light Reply:

    With a comment like that from ms c, it is clear,
    Citizens and aides know more about this issue than
    She does. It is frustrating and baffling why directors
    Will not collaborate with knowledgeable citizens
    Especially ones with skin in the game.

    Solicitors, administrators nor partners in architectural
    Firms should run our board meetings. Or control our
    Areas of operation.

    From A Distance Reply:

    “Oh, and 2 police officers at the door!”

    ….who were paid for by the taxpayers.

    2 officers x 4 hrs. each = 8 hours @ $75 an hour???

    Will this be the norm for future school board meetings?

    [Reply]

  2. Essentially we’ll have a new school board after the November elections that is what this all means.
    9-0 what does that say. To us aides, it’s time for CHANGE.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    AU, one can only hope.

    [Reply]

  3. “The vote also represented a decision not to listen to the residents, parents, aides and paras, teachers or the senior counsel of the National Women’s Law Center. Instead, all school board members chose to follow the opinion of the District solicitor.”

    I don’t think it’s correct to say they did not “listen” but rather they found one sides arguments stronger than the others.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    My point is that it is hard to ‘listen’ to other points of view if your mind is already made up.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    The District Solicitor opinion is always the same as the supt.’s wishes.

    It’s hard to believe the school board thinks it’s O.K. and their right to keep basic financial and decsion making information from TE taxpayers. It is important that we have access to all information in order to stop further secret keeping so secret decisions made in private aren’t slipped in consent agendas so citizens won’t find out. That in itself should disqualify each and every one of these board members from further service.

    The best way to empower citizens is to give them information concerning the actions of this board. Mr. Buraks and Mr. Brake are taking a bet that all of this will die down and go away by November and that they will be happily reelected and continue exactly the same way. We can’t let that happen.

    [Reply]

    Jamie Reply:

    I felt at times (too many times) that it appeared that the District Solicitor was running the meeting. It clearly was not Buraks. He looks LOST. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel the Solicitor is way too involved in these meetings, right down to being the 5 minute sign holder!

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    I totally agree. If it were not for the little signs in front of each board member, you would never be able to tell who is the president. Pete Motel was sitting front and center, so to anyone who didn’t know, they might think that he was the head.Buraks certainly didn’t run anything about that meeting at all.

    Guy Reply:

    Always. I understand having counsel present, but NOT running influencing the meeting. I also find it frustrating (though I understand) why the S/D, who we pay for, has counsel (yes, I know…liability) but the citizens can’t have someone to throw the flag on “time” or ask for additional time for residents making a point. Should work both ways.

    Sidelines Reply:

    “The District Solicitor opinion is always the same as the supt.’s wishes”

    If that is your conclusion, keep writing the poetry….you don’t think the Superintendent’s conclusions are just possibly aligned with the Solicitor’s advice?

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    No, I don’t. I knew in January when the solicitor went along with hiding decisions made in private in a consent agenda in the hopes citizens would not find out.

  4. teachers contract negotiations are going to be fun to watch

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Do you think the administrators will negotiate it again? Do you think Dr. Waters will work hard to get concessions from the teachers healthcare plan when his outlandish healthcare plan is directly tied to theirs? Do you think it is a direct conflict of interest for the administrators to be negotiating this contract? Do you think tax payers were duped last time? How is the tax payer represented when there is no school board director at the negotiating table? Are directors and administrators actually partners in this process? How can we possibly ask teachers to take concessions when administrators just granted themselves raises and bonuses? Are we going to let the fox stay in the hen house this time around too?

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    The TENIG contract will be up as well.

    [Reply]

    T/E aide Reply:

    Margaritaville I agree about the teachers negotiations. They were so set on not wanting to admit they were wrong here, that they never thought about the ramifications down the road.

    [Reply]

    margaritaville Reply:

    well according to the law as presented by our solicitor, if there is any hope of aides getting HC, the teachers will have to have a different HC plan, if I am reading this correctly. If this is true, I wonder how that will go over with them. Truth is economically they need to have a different plan anyway, where they shoulder more of the costs.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    Also, from my understanding at the meeting, if they don’t change their plan (and the administrators as well) they will be taxed on their plan (cadillac tax) because it is such a good plan. This won’t go into effect until 2018 but they will have to start looking at making changes in the future. The Board seemed more concerned (Liz M.) with how much that tax might be than giving the aides a “skinny plan”, in my opinion.

    margaritaville Reply:

    bet they would pay the tax rather than buy insurance for the aides.

  5. Last night I witnessed a school board that sat glumly- as if about to undergo root canals– so unwelcome seemed the prospect of enduring another evening of listening to their constituents.

    No sympathy here. That is part of what they signed up for. If they’d been listening, earning our trust through transparent and open decision-making, last night could have gone very differently.

    For those who were there, did you notice? The Board seemed far more concerned with defending every surplus item as a one-time windfall and reinforcing their financial “woe is TESD” meme than in acknowledging the negative impact reduced hours will have on many of the district’s “valued” employees.

    The statements of the aides and paras were so moving. The truth of their concerns – mainly for the district’s children – could not be ignored.

    Yet the Board expressed no reaction at all. Unless you count Betsy Fadem’s. She almost came right out and told the aides and paras that they’d sealed their own fate by expressing their desire to remain T/E employees. (Imagine that from loyal employees who had never had the benefit of a full and open discussion with the Administration and the School Board about the District’s intentions.)

    Alas, the District was only doing what it had to do. Dr. Waters and the Board started with the premise to avoid paying for healthcare -and worked backward. There was never any effort to go outside their own solicitor’s firm for other expert opinions. Why complicate matters when the outcome was certain?

    Perhaps what encapsulated the entire stomach-turning evening was the sight of our superintendent of schools, head down, texting away, avoiding eye contact with anyone, removing himself from the evening as much as humanly possible without getting up and leaving.

    Don’t get me wrong. I hold every member of the School Board accountable for the way this outsourcing/ reduction in hours debacle played out. And I am appalled by the Board’s undetectable concern for the welfare of what amounts to a third of the District’s employees ( 260 aides, paraprofessionals, paraeducators and substitutes out of 760 TESD employees total).

    But I found Dr. Waters’ behavior last night to be intolerable. Such complete disregard for his employees and the community! What a role model! He has set the negative tone in our District in a number of ways. There is ample evidence of that (though it would require risking one’s job to go public with it.)

    I believe it’s time for him to go.

    [Reply]

    Disgusted Taxpayer Reply:

    I too noted Dr. Waters had his head down the entire meeting, I figured that he was texting Buraks or McDonnell on what to say. The man never looked up from his lap, was totally disengaged with what was going on. Letters read from his employees and he could care less.

    [Reply]

    margaritaville Reply:

    perhaps dan waters has done some good things for this district.. So maybe now its time to begin a search for someone new.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    Two more years.

  6. I disagree with the comment of the Wallmart-ization of the district. Surprisingly the district is worse. Wallmart is not cutting the hours of Fulltime or parttime workers. They are now just hiring “temp” workers. Very few fulltime (note I do not agree with this practice either). They are not doing anything to the parttime or fulltime employees who are already locked into their hours. In other words at least they are being loyal to the employees already on staff (no matter how little they make).
    The is one thing the board did not think about. I discussed this with my husband last week, the board is may be keeper of the budget and the bonuses. However the aides that have been around for awhile are keeper of the secrets. Once that letter goes out and the response is “not coming back”. Things get real interesting, all bets are off. The board did so much homework, I was kind of stunned they did not think to start this program with just newly hired aides, then as the other aides leave they will gradually have more and more aids under 30 hours. With the way they did things, it will get interesting.

    [Reply]

    T/E aide Reply:

    In other words: I think I was to vague by “interesting”. We (The Aides) had meetings at Wilson Park. The board was not aware of this. The thing that came up often was, we have secrets, and we have been loyal. That did not come back to us. So a decision will be made by the aides…do we jump in the mud and make the board and principals and admins. explain the things that a lot of us aides have seen (no we will not expose students names, we are better than that). So that was a discussion today at VFMS. I vote no. However my husband says why not and I am starting to lean his way a little.

    [Reply]

    Aides unite Reply:

    If we exposed everything we have seen and witnessed, this board that stands behind the corrupt administration would be over. But they feel they hold all the power. As indicated time in and time out.

    [Reply]

    shining light Reply:

    Public education is a control game.
    It’s an illusion that they hold the power. Citizens
    Ultimately hold the power. The board and especially
    Administrators work hard to make citizens forget that.
    All tax payers have to do is vote. It’s as simple as that.

    God bless America!!

  7. The guidance from the National Women’s Law Center was not very persuasive for me. I was hoping for an analysis of the current healthcare situation (the teachers and administrators have one plan, the aides have none) and suggestions of how the district might enact low cost plans for the aides that minimize or eliminate penalties. Instead we got some general guidelines based on the assumption that “the district is currently in compliance with IRC 105(h)(2)”.
    .
    A detailed analysis was probably too much to expect from the National Women’s Law Center, but I’d rely on advice from parties that are intimately familiar with the current situation and the possible variants – my current insurance provider (Reschini) and my solicitor. However, at the same time, I’d make that advice public.

    [Reply]

    Joanne Reply:

    The School Board made it clear that the reason they could not offer a lesser plan was because of nondiscriminatory testing. The reason it is important to say it is assumed they were in compliance in the past is because if they weren’t then the school board should have been offering the same benefits in 2011 and 2012.The school board passed the nondiscriminatory test in 2011 and 2012 by putting the hourly workers in a separate category (last night she called it “disaggregating the employees”) from the administrators (highly compensated) so the district wouldn’t have to offer them benefits. It may be legitimate to do so. An employer can have groups like hourly vs. salary or groups working in different states. If they didn’t pass in 2011 and 2012 then the aides would have had to been offered the same plan in the past.

    Nondiscriminatory regulations state if you give highly compensated individuals benefits you have to give everyone the same benefits, giving them nothing obviously is not the same. The school board is now saying they cannot offer them a lesser plan because they will be compared with the administrators plan. What changed from 2011 and 2012 when they were viewed as a separate group and now? The Law Center is saying if you were able to pass the test in the past by putting them in a separate category then that category holds and you can now give them a lesser plan. The ACA changes nothing with self funded plans and nondiscriminatory testing. So why did the disaggregating that worked in the past suddenly change? They weren’t penalized in 2011 and 2012 by offering them nothing. Offering them a lesser plan should have also meant no penalties

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    I was not at the meeting so I didn’t hear about this “disaggregating” strategy. I don’t understand how they passed the discrimination test in 2011 & 2012. It seems to me that the discrimination test was put into place specifically to discourage the situation present in 2011 & 2012. Lots of questions; no persuasive answers.

    [Reply]

    Neal Colligan Reply:

    I think you’re on to something here Joanne…and Keith’s response is pretty telling…how DID they pass this test in the past two years. It was the main reason given for avoiding the ACA offering!!!

    Is the nondiscriminatory test really “have to give everyone the same benefits”? Or, is it that different plans’ benefits have to be in a certain range? Highest plans can’t be more than 150% of the cost of the lower plans….or something along those lines.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    I don’t claim to understand ACA, but in 2011 and 2012, there was no mandate to require benefits. Aides/paras were not benefit eligible, so no discrimination. They had no plan. CBA benefits are on their own, and the Admin plan matches the teachers. So it is only when required to offer a benefit package that this new plan would have to pass a discrimination test. Isn’t that how it works? until ACA, there was no requirement for any plan.

    [Reply]

    margaritaville Reply:

    thats what I thought too, sidelines. Not sure what the others were talking about with respect to prior to the advent of the aca monstrosity.

    Neal Colligan Reply:

    SL,
    I think what they are saying above is that the ACA does not create a new discriminatory penalty…those laws were already on the books. Offering the low-end plan may cause the District to to be out of compliance with the discriminatory lawss that exist. Again, the consequence for discriminatory plans falls to those with the high-end plans. This was the Board’s main objection to offering the lower end plans to this group. Plenty of ways to mute this impact and I would have incorporated it into our conceptual framework if I had been aware of the law.
    Lots of layers to the onion and I too am no expert…

  8. Some very selective observations from someone that lasted through the whole meeting.

    – I thought that despite seemingly knowledgeable testimony from the benefits lawyer, the Board did a very poor job of explaining why they chose the 27.5 hour option. I think that Joanne is right that the discrimination issue is an important concern, but I have no idea what the actual risk to the district is. As others commented in the meeting, I believe that even the most fiscally conservative among us might support a quantified level of risk for a limited period to avoid what looks like being major disruption to both children and employees while a fully supportable solution is sought.

    – The budget passed 7-2. I think that Mrs Crowley voted against it because she does not feel that that the tax increase goes far enough to support the programs the district should deliver, while Dr Brake voted no as a statement about the general direction of public education and out of concern for the cumulative effect of tax increases. I encourage all to watch the tape to make their own judgments.

    – Dr Brake did indeed read another long speech relating his concern about the general direction of public education. For my part, I value his comments because of the thinking that he brings to the complex issues in education, although I part ways with the conclusions he draws. And his remedies lie outside the power of a local school district.

    – In general there was much leaning on the rankings of the district and the achievements of the School Board. I think that we ALL want such good results to continue. It’s just that the Board may need to be more inclusive as the combination of Act 1 and lower growth in the tax base force more and more trade-offs and decisions get harder.

    – The Board did review the current year budget/actual analysis others have referred to here. An advance over last year (some recognition due to Mrs Fadem for making that happen). Although most of the favorable variances were noted as being “one off” and not benefiting the 2013/14 budget, $320,00 of expense variance was not carried forward and I wonder about how much “breakage” due to retirements was built in ($925,000 in the current year). So I’d say that the budget is conservative. I’d like to see the Board take another step, and as part of the approval package have a one page summary of the current year projections versus the next year budget. Remind everyone where that $6.6 million (6%) budgeted expense increase comes from. (I think that “This was discussed in Finance” isn’t quite good enough, and although the Budget Memo distributed last night is helpful it doesn’t summarize as well as is needed).

    – Dr Motel gave a thorough summary of last week’s Facilities meeting and made a commitment that the next decade Infrastructure Plan will be a Priority Discussion at a Fall Board meeting. A good development.

    – I asked about the Ms Whitaker’s comment that the district’s $3.2 million grievance exposure had gone away. For some reason the Board had to defer to the Solicitor to provide a one line “The grievance was denied” statement. As a benchmark, we are seeing a trend for a longer teaching day in both suburban and Philadelphia schools.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Ray, I understand that the teachers grievance was only ‘exposure’ to the District at this point, but since TEEA lost, exactly where does this money show up in the financials. I am fascinated that Laura Whittaker had to be the one to tell the public about the $3.2 million — why did the Board announce it themselves? Right, we call it ‘new world transparency’.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    Undesignated fund balance.

    [Reply]

    Neal Colligan Reply:

    To put fuel on the fire…which I do occasionally: Check the date this was settled. Laura would probably know….

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    meaningless information as to the $3.2 million exposure. ,that was designated fund balance…and now is undeisgnated. The place it matters was NOT the $3.2, but rather if TEEA had prevailed, it would have required more staff to teach the periods that were no longer scheduled (teachers go back to teaching 5, the staffing increment for the extra period the grievance was protesting.). So ultimately it was exposure to operating expenses. they would have had to budget for it going forward. The “back pay” was just the fine….

    Sidelines Reply:

    But not a longer work day Ray.

    [Reply]

  9. Well…another interesting night. I’ll try to be brief in my take-aways.

    -The Board had to know that presenting an insurance option to the affected group was possible. I believe it was also quite affordable within the budget they passed. The solicitor picked his/her words very carefully on this point: “we’ve advised against this concept”…”it could cause a discriminatory health care offering situation”…they never said an offering was not possible or not legal. OK, did anyone put a number on the discriminatory offering liability? I did and came up with $60,000 of tax liability to the highest benefited District employees..could this have been covered as a part of a solution plan? As always, my numbers are estimates and would have to be verified…I’m limited on the information I have. Normally, I’m not too far off. I gave each Board member this estimate along with the question I was hoping they would vote on…I handed this to the financial table…don’t know if it made its way around to the Board seats.

    -The question they voted on was to reduce hours and did not contain what we had hoped: a choice to instruct the Administration to structure and implement a health care offering to comply with ACA this is affordable and sustainable. This, of course, would NOT have required a reduction to part-time status for these employees.

    -My sense it there is some other reason that the Board voted the way they did. Doesn’t seem logical that they would all vote for the avoidance plan with the options they had…and they did have options. It seems they had their minds made up that they “wouldn’t” go down the compliance (with ACA) path and tried to hide behind a “can’t” from their solicitor.

    -From my seat, it’s the Board’s duty to provide instruction to the solicitor and staff and expect the results they require/request. It’s not the solicitor’s job to determine policy although advice is expected and a normal part of this contracted service. Again, the solicitor never said an insurance option couldn’t be offered and they seem plenty competent to assist in its design and implementation. Alas,the will of leadership simply did not exist….for some reason I can’t figure.

    -To this groups of employees: it was an honor to work with you and a pleasure to meet so many of you. Thanks to Pattye in helping us find a common voice. I wish I could have done more to make the outcome different. For this I’m sorry and a little sad today.

    [Reply]

  10. To Pattye and Neal…
    Many, many thanks for your dedication and hard work on behalf of all aides and paras. It is indeed discouraging that here, in America, the people’s voices were not heard. The school board could have voted on the hours/insurance issue prior to the meeting for all of the attention and thought most gave to the many sound, logical, viable remarks offered.
    I really thought for a moment we had a bit of a chance when Anne C. began to ask questions. The answers she received, however, were constantly redirected to the “big penalty” the district would receveive if health insurance was not offered, rather than what fine could possibly incur if the skinny plan was offered and an employee went to the exchange. The board seemingly offers a one-look, doomsday prediction about the budget when it suits them.
    Thank you again for your wonderful support.

    [Reply]

  11. You know what? I haven’t had a pay raise since 2009. My healthcare premiums have risen significantly – as well as my deductible. I have to pay an EIT in the township where I work, plus the T/E tax. I’m tapped out and I applaud the board for trying to keep expenses down.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    Oh, so you’re ok with them giving out bonuses to administration, giving administration a better inusrance plan than what they had, adding in a huge longevity retirement bonus,spending money on parking lots, tennis courts, raises to the solicitor, architect and hiding $3M?

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    and by the way, your healthcare costs have gone up, but at least you have healthcare.

    [Reply]

    margaritaville Reply:

    support not sure what you are getting at, maybe you are rightfully cynical based on this experience. But at some point there is a tipping point having healthcare vs ability to pay for it. It can be an onerus burden.. and just the increases for my family are hard to swallow. But for now, yes, I have HC..

    SupportStaff Reply:

    Margaritaville, I guess I am a little cynical now. I realize there is a tipping point. But the plan Neal came up with, although just estimated, shows that healthcare could have been offered at a very affordable rate. Neal’s plan was just a little over $72,000 if I remember correctly. That’s much less than the bonuses that were just handed out. So if we are looking at tipping points, this district is not at that point. They have money to use at their discretion. Just take a look at what they’re planning to spend in facilities over the next few years. It’s just that their priorities are different than what I might want to spend the money on. I would put people before buildings and parking lots.The fact finder’s report from last year says it all. There is no reason what so ever that a district like ours should not be able to offer some kind of insurance to it’s workers.

  12. OK sunny. Do you applaud the board for favoring administration raises after all of the sacrifices the teachers and custodians and now the aides have givenup??

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    Please explain the huge sacrifices? Teachers? Delayed an increase …

    [Reply]

  13. “Huge longevity retirement bonus” – to be fair (and accurate) as has been pointed out on this blog many times – the so-called “retirement” bonus was instituted (years ago, not new) to avoid exposure to sabbaticals. All administrators were entitled to take a year off at half pay, the first time at seven years of service, and once every ten years thereafter. No school board created that problem, it was STATE LAW. Taking sabbaticals would obviously be extremely costly and disruptive to the program- half salary AND you have to hire a replacement. Plus – also state law- the retirement bonus also caps exposure to unlimited carry over and pay out of sick time. It was done to save money and avoid disruption of the program, and the entire problem was created by the state legislature many years ago.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    What you are talking about is different. What we are talking about was instituted in January 2013 as a supplemental retirement bonus. It is for administrative level employees. “..in order to attract, retain and reward….” It is an extra there is nothing mentiond about sabbaticals. The administration brought this to the board and they passed it, not the state.
    You may have had a lot of accurate facts from the past when you used to live here but this is in the here and now and it stinks!

    [Reply]

    Insider Reply:

    I believe what I said was correct. Check your facts. This is in lieu of taking act 93 “compensation” which includes sabbaticals.

    [Reply]

    Insider Reply:

    And cash out of accumulated sick time. By the way, I still live here.

    SupportStaff Reply:

    I read the Act 93 compensation (old one and new one) and I see what you are talking about but as of January 2013 there is also a provision for a 1 time bonus and a adjustment to salary for previous 2 1/2 years. But, begining June 2014 (thru 2017) there is a 1% bonus each year and well as a “pool” of 1.7% of the administrators salaries to be distributed as Dr. Waters sees fit. I don’t understand how this is NOT an extra???? Also, why would the Food and Nutrition Services Director and Custodial Supervisors and CHS kitchen supervisor be entitled to that bonus as they don’t take sabbaticals? I don’t think with all that is going on and how the public is perceiving the administration that it is appropriate for him to give out “discretionary” bonuses as he sees fit. It seems like a payoff to those willing to be his puppets.

    Sidelines Reply:

    SS — You are wrong. The “bonus” you keep referencing has been around for more than 10 years. Insider is absolutely accurate. And it represented a cost savings, not a ridiculous expense. Still does. Many districts have adopted it once we developed the language in TESD.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    RETIREMENT SUPPLEMENTAL PENSION
    In place of the previous Retirement Incentive Bonus (Options 1-5) for the purpose of compensating administrators for not taking a compensated leave of absence for professional development while carrying administrative responsibilities; in the interest of promoting administrative continuity; and to facilitate hiring replacements for retirees, the District shall compensate an administrator as follows upon retirement.

    [Reply]

  14. saw part of the monday meeting on tv last night. Wanted to puke at the grandstanding and selfcongratulatory bs KC and Brake put on.. yea yea tough times, not happy with surplus??? and all that. Radnor and GV have insurance for all their employees.. This was quite an embarrassment.

    And for all the crap, the whole board voted in lock step with each other.. 9-0.. Excuses and pats on their own backs.. Revolting.. this board and administration has earned my disrespect. We will have at least 2 new board members and maybe 4.. I vote for 4 and hopefully the worm will turn. Tired of soliquies about “my kids live here too”.. and how great a place this is thats why we moved here. Blah blah blah… disgusting.

    [Reply]

  15. So there could be 4 new members in the new year?

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    William,
    Yes there could be, but we have to be smart and choose wisely.

    [Reply]

    Insider Reply:

    Very true and well said. But being smart and choosing wisely does not just mean “throw the bums out” which seems to be the sentiment here. You are stuck with the candidates nominated by the parties – unless you want to do a write-in campaign, which is almost impossible, because the primaries are over.

    So you all should look VERY CLOSELY at the candidates the parties have put up and decide if any of the challengers are really better than the incumbents. Some people may actually conclude that the devil you know is better than the devil you do not know . . . . . (Tea, anyone?)

    In the long view, you could work to field your own slate of candidates next time, or try to win the endorsement of one of the parties (but your candidate(s) would have to conform to the party’s ideas, and that might be too much of a compromise – for example, if you want the R’s blessing, you will never get it advocating for benefits for another class of employees, because they are really only concerned about $$$$$).

    It is a LOT of work, and a LOT of MONEY $! The last time anyone tried to take over the board was with the “Kids Count” campaign – four independent candidates running as a slate. Tens of thousands of dollars spent, numerous mailers, door-to-door, thousands of mail box flyers, dozens of “coffees” and the result – not a single race was won. They had some very intelligent people and some of their ideas were at least thoughtful proposals on legitimate issues, but they overreached . . . . . .

    Part of the problem was that they advocated fro smaller schools – which would necessarily require a second high school – and the community was not willing to pay the HUGE expense to fix something which was (in the community’s view) NOT BROKEN. The second problem is that the campaign attracted all kinds of people with all kinds of complaints about the district and I think it got mired in too much negativity.

    That’s my last bit of advice – too much negativity does not play well in Peoria (T/E). At least it never used to. God help us when it does play here – we will have then joined the HORRIBLE and USELESS national political process, much to our detriment. Polarization is only useful in sunglasses . . . . .

    Now, that is the problem with this blog as I see it – it is too much like the national politics – all negative, all conspiratorial accusations, personal attacks, assumptions repeated as facts (the board did not hide $3 million, for example. Pure BS!) There is so much bitterly negative rhetoric that any meaningful factual discussion of real issues gets lost.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Insider, you have repeatedly complained about Community Matters for its lack of meaningful discussion, etc. yet you negatively attack commentors with opposing views by claiming they do not have facts and instead use conspiracy theories, assumptions, etc. I would suggest that if some members of the public thought that their opinions were valued more by those elected to serve us or that communication and transparency in government had a higher importance, maybe some of these problems you cite would be lessened.

  16. the IRS was designated as the cop in monitoring health care compliance , It is in ACA.. enforcement arm aint that great?

    [Reply]

  17. The most frustrating thing for me was that with a better approach we could have had a much more satisfying outcome. The ACA has been coming down the tracks for years. If the Board had been open about their concerns a year ago the affected employees and concerned citizens could have helped create the solution. Look at all that Neal and Joann were able to develop in such a short time. Instead most work was done behind closed doors and then dropped on the public at the last minute with little time for a sincere dialogue.

    If you ask your solicitor for advice they will most likely choose to avoid any risk. However if you ask your solicitor how to structure a skinny plan with the best chance of gaining approval they will use their expertise to get it accomplished.

    It was interesting how our budget surplus was explained away as one time events hitting this year. As a business owner I can tell you there are different one time events every year…but they happen. The district has had 3 surpluses in a row.

    As I stated. I would have rolled the dice on giving a skinny plan and waited to see if we could structure one that qualified. If it failed to qualify under ACA then we would do what was necessary to correct it next year. At least the aides, paras and subs would know that we valued them and tried.

    It is possible to be a fiscal conservative and have a heart.

    As voters we need to look at all of the wasteful spending that is forced on us by Harrisburg. We need to move decisions back to the local level.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Instead most work was done behind closed doors and then dropped on the public at the last minute with little time for a sincere dialogue.

    When the public finds out after Board decisions are made, it only adds fuel to the fire. If the school district had been willing to work with the citizens, I am confident a satisfactory solution could have been found. Without the benefit of actual data from the District and the insurance company, interested citizens unfortunately were operating in the dark — which then created an adversarial situation.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    Pete
    As a candidate, it would be helpful if you read the school,code before lamenting decisions made in Harrisburg and wanting them to be made at the local level. A neighboring district ran a slate of candidates to return prayer to schools…well funded and successful…but ultimately not legal or possible. many of those newly elected candidates lost interest and the district was in turmoil as the sitting board had to interview to replace to fill the seats.

    Your strategic view that they could have done this earlier is accurate….but please avoid platitudes like having a heart while being conservative. I think if we wind back the tape, many might acknowledge at the initial STS plan had good intentions..but STS disappeared because of the messages from angry but still uninformed detractors. This board lacks leadership…and lectures from people like Rich Brake about fiscal conservatism reflect very poor understanding of the realities of the social contract of PUBLIC education.

    But thanks for stepping up. All kinds of contributors here and elsewhere who are not willing to get involved and stay for the boring parts.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    In my conversation with Jay Godwin, president of STS, he stated that this was “not the time for outsourcing in TESD” as one of the reasons he withdrew his outsourcing proposal but the other reason — he stated that his company would not have time to successfully execute all the required documents by the District deadline. I specifically asked which was the more important reasons — he said that the reasons were equal. You can claim that it was the the “angy but still uninformed detractors” that caused Godwin to withdraw his proposal but that is not accurate. I do not know anyone else who spke directly with STS, but I am certain if you did, you would receive the same response that I did.

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    My understanding from Jay was that the angry response from the community caused the board to delay the decision (remember the postponement for 2 or so weeks) and once the board did that, there was insufficient time for STS to successfully implement the plan.

    Sidelines Reply:

    Mr. Godwin submitted the proposal. His stated reasons for withdrawal are what they are. he did, however, submit a proposal and bid it.

    Sidelines Reply:

    Again, STS submitted a proposal. Like the tennis courts costing the district money to “not demolish” because of an agreement– had the district moved forward, Mr. Godwin had a proposal on the table. Deadlines changed because of the community response. Had the district accepted it, we can be hypothetical if we want. I have used the phrase before — keep a good job — lose a great one. 40 hours at $13 an hour is the same as 27.5 hours at $19 an hour.
    I’m NOT saying this is all bad, but I am saying that because the board created ill will, 175+ people have been seriously affected. (Actually, what percentage of the 175 were even full time? How many people will see a significant cut by going to 27.5 hours?) facts, not just impressions.
    And Margaritaville — poor governance indeed. They underestimated because there was so little interest in outsourcing the custodians. Again — these were AIDES and PARAS…people we all knew. The voters have to be better, not just the board. And you need to approach problems with something besides a sharp stick — you put people in the corner, they will either not come out, or will come out swinging. People on this blog come out swinging, and the last word is a coveted position.

    Pete Connors Reply:

    My point about Harrisburg is that we should influence them to change the laws. We elect those people and they need to be held accountable. Having the state tell us that administrators have to get a sabbatical is nonsense. We should be able to decide their compensation package and they can decide if they want to accept the job on our terms….not some terms that lobbyists pushed through in Harrisburg. The closer decisions are made to the people the better the decision. Special interest groups always want to move the decision point farther away so they have more influence. Do you think we would have the pension problem we have if all of it was decided and managed by the district. I doubt it. The public would not allow it. Look how the people responded to this issue.
    I have a lot to learn but am willing to listen. I have been amazed at the energy and willingness of citizens to jump in and try to help. The public can’t help if they aren’t kept informed.

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Mr. Connors, mused, “Do you think we would have the pension problem we have if all of it was decided and managed by the district.”
    .
    Yes, and the problem would be bigger. Remember that a recent TE school board negotiated that 5 year contract that gave teachers 5%+ raises each year. Instead of the current 2.5% multiplier, TE would have passed a 3% multiplier because the flawed thinking would be, “We can attract and retain the best and brightest with an attractive pension”. Because of the contract impairment clause of the PA constitution it wouldn’t be possible to change it.
    .
    The sabbatical part of the PA school code was passed in the 30’s for good reasons at the time. This was well before lobbyist were a force.

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    With regards to being “kept informed” – has anyone out there taken the 5 minutes to file a RTK request for information related to outsourcing or ACA advice from the insurance provider? Maybe a RTK request from Shining Light rather than another post moaning about the current situation would be beneficial.

  18. This whole mess is a perfect example of poor governance.

    it appears the board, and administration underestimated the fury of the community response to the aides fiasco. Pete’s idea for the workout seems right on. But this board, Dems and republicans alike just looked at it as a minor problem in their quest to minimize their budget. And clearly they have no respect for the intelligence and volunteerism of so many of our community members. This will be their legacy as 2 and hopefully 4 will be replaced this election cycle. True, we will need BETTER respondents to community concerns, While new people are not a guarantee of better results, the current crop has to pay at the voter booth with their jobs. They cannot continue.

    [Reply]

  19. my concern is that those voters who are not directly impacted by this latest fiasco will be detached from the recent deliberations of this board, and will not feel compelled to vote against the incumbents running. That will be the HOPE of these same incumbents. And my hope is this issue will have legs so that the community at large will focus on the way this board has done business and vote them out.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    Maybe those not affected do not feel the incumbent board is “all bad” — the devil you know, after all. What does ANYONE know about those running? You currently have a board with little identifiable leadership. You have candidates with little history and basically no track record. Sudden interest in school affairs? Or part of a political movement? Do they support public education — do they understand what that requires — and what have they done lately? (Besides decide to run?) Those who didn’t send kids to our schools — did you ever investigate the compensation plans of the instruction at your school?

    Good choices or not?

    [Reply]

  20. “The current crop has to pay at the voter booth with their jobs . . .”

    And:

    “That will be the HOPE of those same incumbents . . . . .”

    Hey folks – while it is undoubtedly true that sometimes a pubic official is voted out of office because of some unpopular decision, the above comments assume that the incumbents have an ego investment (or other reward) and are worried night and day about keeping their “jobs”.

    A couple observations to put this in perspective . . .

    This is not a JOB. It is volunteer service and is totally UNPAID. In fact, school board members often spend THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS of their own money getting and keeping their seats. Why? Not necessarily because they get some kind of ego gratification (there are easier ways to do that, volunteer to run a Scout troop for example – no where near the horrible political guff, much easier and more rewarding), but because they think they have something to offer – perhaps they have some issue they want to see get done. Whether you agree with what they do or not, these are VOLUNTEERS doing what they think is best for the kids and the district in the long run.

    If you have a different vision, RUN. Get elected – see if you can get what you want done – not so easy, but your right is AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE, and your DUTY if you think you have the right answers.

    The other thing is HOPE – do not assume anyone is terribly concerned about keeping the seat – there is no particular reward, only stress and abuse – perhaps the only reason anyone wants to keep a seat is because they think they are doing the right thing – and they hate every minute of it and would just as soon not be there if that happened to be the outcome.

    If you think the current board has handled this badly, fair enough – but what do you have to offer as an alternative? And more importantly – WHO do you have to offer? Give this question some serious thought, otherwise you are wasting your time.

    If you ask yourself WHY would anyone – ANYONE – want to put their name and face into this BUZZ SAW – and remember, the minute you put yourself into that arena, YOU are subject to the same WITHERING BARRAGE of criticism that the current board gets on this blog, then you may not be willing to put your name and your face out there . . . . .

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Insider: The fact is that 4 people are even willing to have their name on this blog. Why should we assume anyone would be willing to actually step up and face the music? This fear of repercussions is much ado about nothing — no matter what you all convince yourselves of, if you want to make a difference, little meetings held in secret dredging up complaints are NOT service to anyone. Neal, Pattye, Keith and Pete Connors — no one else has bothered to even acknowledge their position in the community. And yet you can dish it out all day long.

    I did this for 3 terms. I am less than comfortable with many things that have gone on, and despite Shining’s protestations to the contrary, I have talked with people privately. I dont’ live there anymore, but anyone reading these comments would think the buildings were falling down, the taxes were sky high, and the kids were failing. I know — demographics. Sure. I used to laugh when we had awards at the start of meetings and the audience was filled. Once the awards were handed out, the seats were relatively empty. Maybe things have changed and this board doesn’t want your input — and that’s a shame if it’s true — but the fact is that you are electing people who bring very little to the table. The Ds and Rs recruit “candidates” and not often people with anything invested in leadership. And yet while I resented John DB’s comments about “cowardly anonymous”posters, I now understand exactly what he felt. I do not want to defend actions I do not agree with, but I will ask just a few of you to step out from behind your curtain and talk in specifics….not in “fear of your jobs” because quite honestly, these are not jobs anyone with this much anger should be doing.
    One more hit on Dr. Waters is about one hit too many. If he has turned into this monster you all portray, it’s what this community made him. When he came to TESD, it was as high school principal. When Dr. Foot announced his retirement, I interviewed every single key administrator in the district. I interviewed teachers, and we had focus groups. Dan was a unanimous choice. Now, over the past 15 years or so, we have continued to elect boards who increasingly see privacy and secrecy as a critical tool in governing. And this current board put Dr. Waters and Mrs. Tiede at the bargaining table. ANYONE who doesn’t see the connection between the attacks and innuendo being shared and that negotiating period is willfully blinded to the reality of politics.
    Insider is dead on — WHAT ARE YOUR ALTERNATIVES? How’s that Radnor superintendent search going? If this group is so solid, why not pick someone among you and run a write-in campaign? Come rescue our community?

    I told Pattye this — the boards of the 80s were pretty invisible, until they closed the schools. That decision generated great activism, and school boards changed in the late 80s to reflect more of the demographic of the parent community and not just local pro-bono lawyers and political people.

    I think blogs and TV damage the process because they run off candidates. I don’t blame either medium for it — and I certainly believe Pattye’s efforts are laudable in that they have generated interest and activism. But you have to do something with that activism besides speculating that it’s time for someone to go. Someone has to STEP UP. It takes 5 votes to get something done. You can blame administrators, but they serve at the pleasure of the board. And it seems this board has had enough of the rocks thrown at their windows in the dark.

    Change is always difficult. And it’s evolutionary, not revolutionary. Dr. Waters will be retiring in June 2015. Not before. I don’t know the employment nature of other people, but most are tenured and are free to return to the classroom if they leave administration.

    And Pete Connors — Harrisburg’s rules about compensation are rarely due to lobbying — it’s constitutional. 20 years ago a citizen suggested that TESD charter itself and become free of public mandates. I hope she doesn’t mind my naming her, but Dariel Jamiesen, a community participant in Strategic Planning stood up and debated forcefully and passionately about why TESD needs to address the mandates head on — on behalf of all districts. Marian Schneider and Kevin Grewell, former board members, worked hard to deal with political issues. A former TE Board president is now secretary of State in PA. So we can say it’s important to demand things, but there needs to be a plan — and a way to measure success.

    Many of you anonymous people have become so angry that you forget that there are people whose names you use liberally that are people too. You won’t even tell us who you are — and yet you report anonymously from the trenches. It takes 5 votes on the board — it takes a community to support candidates to put them on the board. It doesn’t happen with a stampede of fury.

    So while I know people can google my name and see this post, I’ll depart to the Sidelines….and perhaps some of you will come from the shadows and either tell the truth and stand behind it, or will work privately with the people who can make a difference — the people with the votes — to make what you claim be on the record. I endured 3 terms of contract negotiations. My kids took a lot of heat. A lot. But they also had wonderful teachers and principals and experiences in our schools. Do you think I enjoyed every community event being filled with someone with a gripe? There was no anonymity to me or to my family.

    It’s my conclusion that if you cannot say something and mean it, using your own name, then asking people like Pattye to read your words is cowardice. It’s just that simple. You want strong leaders, you have deserve and earn them….or to use that phrase — lead, follow or get out of the way. You decide.

    Pattye — maybe it’s time to require real names to post?

    [Reply]

    Sarah D. Reply:

    I recall seeing comments by Ray Clarke (many), Kevin Grewell, Scott Dorsey.

    [Reply]

    margaritaville Reply:

    You have lived it, and what you say must be respected.. However it is not cowardice when retribution is a reality to people not of independent wealth who are afraid of losing their jobs.. I sight as an example that young teacher who spoke at the may meeting and was completely rebuffed by tiede when the kid called her to smooth over her comments which frankly didn’t need that, but she probably reallized she took a bullet for the team. Maybe not during your tenure on the board, but now there is a real concern for retribution. Until one decides to give himself up in this putrid environment, you have no choice to be anonymous. Id like to know more about Sue Tiede, and how long she will be around, where she came from and from whom or what she derives her power. My prediction is the normal attrition rate for aides will increase over the next year or 2 and the district will have difficulty hiring the same quality and the district will be diminished….

    Why would anyone want to be on the school board? Ego? Who knows.. It is thankless as I have stated over the course of discussions here. But even though you will always antagonize some constituent group with a decision, I think people can accept winning sometimes and losing sometimes as long as they perceive the process is open and truthful. This board has lost that lovin feeling, if they ever had it. Sorry.

    [Reply]

    Aides unite Reply:

    Insider very true words and remarks.

    However if you can’t stand the heat don’t come in to this kitchen!
    Anyone who runs for public office in any capacity puts themselves and family members in line for some abuse.
    It’s not the fun part of politics. It is also a shame there is no pay check but at the end of the day the elected should stay true to themselves and stand up for why they ran in the first place. To me this entire board sold their souls to the devil and lay down and play dead to the administration.

    While I am sure we all have a very strong opinion on things with the board. It seems this particular aides crisis was essentially a slap back to all of us for getting the community, blog and people behind them.

    Living inside the walls of a school can paint a totally different picture. Morale stinks. We hide behind fake names and live in fear. That should tell this board to get a clue and breathe some new life back in to all the schools.
    Instead it opens up the forum to hope for change all around (vote them out) since nobody listens. We’ll all go away since it’s summer but when school starts, hours and staff are cut, our #’s and test scores will continue to let other districts take the lead. In the end who wins who loses?

    [Reply]

    richard Reply:

    “Anyone who runs for public office in any capacity puts themselves and family members in line for some abuse.”

    Disagree, especially regarding family members.

    “To me this entire board sold their souls to the devil and lay down and play dead to the administration.”

    What a ridiculous thought.

    “It seems this particular aides crisis was essentially a slap back to all of us for getting the community, blog and people behind them.”

    I’m sure they didn’t conjure this whole thing up as some rube goldberg device to settle a vendetta.

    [Reply]

    margaritaville Reply:

    At the end if the day, the result of cutting hours would have been the same with or without the public outrage at the board. They couldnt get an outsourcing company in time for next school year. And they didn’t want to pay for ACA for those that have not heretofore haven’t received them. So really cutting hours was their only choice.

    Should have fought for increase in salary to equalize pay. But hindsight is 50-50.. Where is that money going, the money saved by cutting hours? To the surplus?

  21. For the record…I just read the Main Line Media write up article and someone (I suspect I know who) has posted there using Sidelines as their name…no reason for me to care, but it was NOT my post…just someone who is angry at Pattye in tis process. Figures.

    Sarah–you are correct. Kevin no longer posts, but Scott and of course Ray do. Scott has not done so in awhile…and he is a candidate now.

    $19 an hour is algebra…it’s what you need to make now that hours a down to 27.. Your pension is, however, based on your 3 highest years.

    Listen…people are posing as me in the paper, and this process has produced nothing but anger and frustration. I wish you all well, but doubt it will turn out well…so I’ll go back to lurking and will enjoy reading how you all will actively step up,to make a change. And to my “wannabe” poser, don’t use my Sidelines again,,please. You,always claim to,post in your own name…stick,to,that. ,(ah, the commas of an iPad keyboard!)

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  22. would have been nice if the hourly rate was increased to offset hours lost. Maybe they are hiring additional part timers. That would be where that increase goes. Maybe not. Maybe they feel no need to increase so they won’t. Thats the board.

    But the aides have really no official advocate. (union) So there is no negotiation. Offers came out what seems to be early this year.,. due by july 1.. Can anyone confirm july 1 was the date in prior years?

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    SupportStaff Reply:

    M, an increase in the hourly rate would have been proper. I think Betsy Fadem may have even mentioned that back at the May meeting.I thought that was what Sidelines was getting at when he/she made the comment about $19/hour. I think that is somewhere in the range that CCRES pays their employees. Seems like a fair wage for all that they have to do.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    There was brief discussion by the SB, following last week’s vote to cap the aides/paras weekly hours at 27.5 hr., about making up the difference financially for the decrease in weekly hours, but the discussion did not go any further. Remeber, the SB did approve a 1% raise for aides/paras — 10 cents on the $10/hr rate will go to $10.10/hr. Embarrassing.

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