Taxpayers Pay for 2 T/E Personnel Directors for Months — Fiscally Responsible? And has School Board begun Superintendent search?

Based on Sue Tiede’s notification to retire as TESD Director of Personnel, the school board conducted interviews and last Fall, unanimously approved the hiring of Jeanne Pocalyko as the replacement with a January 2014 start date.

It is now spring — tomorrow is April 1 and I have yet to see (or hear) Ms. Pocaylko, the newly hired voice of the District Personnel Department.  Although Pocaylko was hired in January, Sue Tiede continued to be the voice of the District for personnel matters at regular school board and committee meetings.

Typically, I’m guessing that an overlap of two weeks would be the norm as a transition period or maybe, …  in certain situations, 30 days. However, in the case of the TESD Director of Personnel position, the overlap between Tiede and Pocalyko began in January and continued through March, ending this past Friday. Well … that’s not entirely accurate.  In February, the Board approved extending Tiede’s employment until May 1.  Apparently, Tiede will not be ‘on the job’ for the month of April but will be paid the additional month for her unused sick leave.  Then at last week’s Board meeting, the Board approved paying Tiede $86/hour, for up to 8 hours, to continue to help Pocalyko in her Director of Personnel job.

It is remarkable that since January the District’s taxpayers have paid the salaries for two Personnel Directors and will continue to do so until May 1.  The base salary for Tiede is $178K/yr. and Pocalyko is $167K/yr. In a time when the Board and administration are focused on cost-savings measures and tout the need for fiscal responsibility, it is hard to understand how they rationalize the use of taxpayer dollars in this manner.

It’s not like Pocalyko comes to T/E lacking in experience – she spent the last nine years as the Human Resource director for Dallastown Area School District in York, PA and before that as the Director of Personnel at Upper Merion School District.  How could the inner workings of the personnel department of this District be so different from Dallastown and Upper Merion school districts as to require months of on-the-job training from Ms. Tiede?

Once again, this highlights the administration (with school board approval) protecting the most highly compensated District employees while those on the bottom rung – the aides and paras – continue to struggle with the own future economic uncertainty. This should be a real indicator of priorities to District’s aides and paras.  The lowest paid employees are considered disposable by some members of the school board and administration but the highest paid administrators continue to get paid more.

Continuing on the subject of personnel matters, is the issue of the superintendent search.  According to the terms of his 4-1/2 year superintendent contract, which ends June 30, 2015, Dan Waters needed to give at least 18 months’ notice to the school board to receive all associated contract benefits including retention bonus.

The contract signed February 2, 2010 included a base salary of $225K yearly but that salary will have almost doubled when the contract expires June 2015. Reviewing Waters contract indicates that each January starting in 2011, provides an additional $35K/yr for a competitive market rate adjustment.  If you add the $35K yearly adjustment for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 and $17,500 for January – June 2015, the contract moves to a value of $382,500.  Additionally, the contract contains a yearly retention bonus of $5K/yr starting in January 2011 which adds an additional $25K to Waters base salary. The base salary of Waters contract in June 2015 is $407,500 in June 2015.

Waters qualifies for supplement retirement pension – for those who worked in the District 25 years or longer, the supplemental rate is 100% of the final year’s base salary.  The idea is to compensate administrators for not taking a compensated leave of absence.  When Waters retires, he will receive a supplemental retirement payout of $407,500, his base salary in June 2015.  It needs to be clear that Waters salary of $400K+ is the base salary only — health insurance, PSERS, car, etc. benefits are additional.

For comparison sake, Unionville Chadds Ford School District recently renewed  Superintendent John Sanville’s employment contract for 4 years.  Including a 10% increase, Sanville will make a base salary of $210K/yr starting September 2014.  Upper Merion School District recently increased their superintendent’s salary – UMSD Superintendent Jane Callaghan base salary was increased to $202K/yr.  I think most would agree that Unionville Chadds Ford and Upper Merion school districts are competitive to T/E yet the base salaries of their superintendents are approximately half of TESD superintendent will receive in 2015.

Although there has been no public announcement from the T/E school board that Waters has given his official notification to retire in June 2015, it is clear that he did.  I do not believe that Waters would want to risk losing any contract retention benefits! Not sure why this information was not made public.

So the real question becomes – does the School Board tell the public when the superintendent search begins or does the community find out when the decision is made, as was the case with Director of Personnel.  Does the Board look for a replacement at the current $400K+ base salary of the T/E superintendent or in the $200K salary range of neighboring school district superintendents?  Will the Board decide to do the search ‘in-house’ themselves as they did with the Director of Personnel?  Or will the Board utilize the services of an outside consulting company? Another option in the superintendent search – the Chester County Intermediate Unit.  That could be a less expensive route than using a consulting company, but Board member Jim Bruce is also Vice President of CCIU, which may create a conflict of interest.  Final thought, how does the superintendent search handle community input – or does it?

The major reason to preemptively discuss the superintendent search is to voice a strong opinion that the search needs to go outside the District. Although school board members have never publically acknowledged the low morale of District employees, those issues continue.

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  1. OK, they are cutting foreign languages and other academic programs left and right, making every club and sport do tons of fundraising, charging for every little extra thing imaginable, PLUS RAISING MY PROPERTY TAXES EVERY YEAR, and Waters is making $407,500 along with free health insurance and all the other cushy benefits? Sue Tiede was making almost $200K?

    When does somebody step in and put a stop to this nonsense? These executives are so grossly overpaid. It’s crazy. There are families in TE that struggle to pay the mortgage, and keep getting hit with higher taxes, more school fees, etc. Do they justify paying the execs this much because they assume everyone in TE is wealthy? Why am I carrying their six-figure salaries on my five-figure (minus $300 a month in health insurance) back?

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Frustrated —

    Not that it changes anything but I should clarify that Waters base salary of $407,500 is his salary in January 2015.. By my calculations, his 2014 base salary is $385K!

    But don’t forget Waters receives a bonus check of $407,500 as a supplemental retirement pension — meaning that in 2015, he receives his contracted base salary of $407,500 PLUS the District will give him a bonus check for $407,500.

    Likewise Sue Tiede receives her supplemental bonus of $178K in addition to her regular yearly salary of $178K.

    [Reply]

  2. This is stunning. This report should shock and anger taxpayers.

    His pay is out of line with reason and reality. Workers who pay for this, have lost their jobs, taken pay cuts, lost benefits and the supt. is raking in this outrageous salary: Over $400,000 not including PSERS, helathcare, car allowance and other benefits?

    The amount of money siphoned out of the school budget to support this salary, Ms. Tiede’s salary, and Ms. Pocalyko’s salary is incredible, especially when thinking about the cruel and inhumane way our least paid employees have been treated. Their salaries have been cut and they are under constant threat of outsourcing all under the notion that we have a budget problem. We don’t have a budget problem, we have an administrator pay problem. This is absurd, makes no sense and has to stop. How does the school board justify this?

    The public is in the dark about this salary and others and that is the reason they continue to skyrocket.

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  3. I am glad to see that the citizenry is looking at the GRAVY TRAIN in the school district! The schools are mainly great due to the culture and diligence of the families of the children in the schools…..not the entitled teachers and administrators.

    This really needs to be evaluated. With rising taxes and people having to be very productive to keep their jobs.
    This is a matter of Justice!

    So many young people really want to be teachers and they are kept out of the system for a long list of reasons. I think the simple laws of supply and demand would clean this mess up real fast.

    Pension reform is really needed too! But any smart taxpayer who is planning for their own retirement knows that.

    The Philadlephia school principals are taking a hair cut in money to keep their jobs and to help the schools. That needs to happen here….across the board!

    [Reply]

    Middle school aide Reply:

    You act like all the children are all the same in our district.

    The High School teaches one more extra class each day compared to other schools in the area. Thus saving money on the back of the teachers by needing less teachers.
    They are doing most of their prep at home. The younger teachers all look like they got hit in the back of the head with a brick 6 lectures a day, with 5 minute breaks in between. And again all children are not prepped for school like your angels. And god forbid your darling fails a test, that means it is the teachers fault. When in reality, the student was not paying attention because he was busy texting his friend, because the attention span of the students today is like 10 seconds. If you take the phone then parents get upset because the student tells mommy how mean the teacher is and the teacher took the phone for no reason. Mommy sides with student of course.
    Where are the teachers you talk about? They have been struggling to fill spots. Mainly because word is out about T/E’s schools. Yes because you get paid more but you can get paid about the same in Radnor and LM without the stress. Kids coming out of school know this now, word is spreading. And note, I work in the middle school and the young teachers talk to the young teachers in the HS, I hear them talk. They tell their friends to stay away from Conestoga High School. No support from Dan. No support from the principals.
    All this while Dan and Sue get fatter.
    The T/E teachers are far from entitled.

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  4. Wow! More members of the community must start attending board meetings and questioning these decisions. The board is rubber stamping things and the only way to make the board do it’s due diligence is for the public to pressure them. Come to monthly meetings, ask questions. The fact that Waters makes approx $200k more than his competitors is ridiculous. It will only change when the citizens of T/E attend meetings and speak out.

    Teachers and support staff should not have to pay the burden of a mismanaged pension system either. PSERS operated soundly for nearly a century before a combination of a funding holiday by Harrisburg politicians and economic downturns damaged the fund. But prior to that it ran well and at a lower cost to taxpayers than any DC plan. Teachers and support staff shouldn’t be punitively punished for something they had no control over, that isn’t a square deal. Yes, everyone will have to contribute to get past this difficult time, but once it’s fixed, the pension system is better deal, cost-wise to taxpayers than any other retirement plan. But yes, there are some hard years ahead for all PA school districts, but all the proposals to switch plans are more costly than what is currently happening.

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  5. The $35k is annual, not added to base salary. This happened when a former board member gave Dr. Waters a bonus to cover the cost of tuition in college for his son, whichnis what Doctors at Penn get for their kids…presumably because this former board member worked at Penn and saw how well this functions for retention.
    Unfortunately, intentional or otherwise, when the tuition was no longer required, the PA constitution does not allow for a decrease in compensation, so the amount continued. Board members rarely ask for advice…

    The payment at retirement is in lieu of 2 significant contractual pieces–the unused sick pay, which well exceeds a year for Dr. waters, and the fact that he has never taken a sabbatical, which he is also eligible to take at least 4 times during his time at TE.

    So dial back the salary to the lower 2010 number, add tthe retention bonus (if that indeed was added to base salary) and look hard and long at what the state of PA will be paying as an annual pension…2.5% of 3-yr average for each year of service.

    Worker Bee– spoken like a true municipal worker…the games played with PSERS notwithstanding, the downturns in the stock market that plunged the rest of us into delayed or cancelled retirement plans are critical to the calculations of the PSERS correction. The employee should not have to pay??? For their pension??? PSEA has seen to it The employee is completely insulated from economic reality in their pension calculations…until now, where the new hires are out of the benefit almost completely…until times look good and PSEA takes out people like Warren Kampf who dared to challenge it.
    The PSERS penalty is an exception to tax increase limits…so ask away for raises…and then ask why we cut peograms. Rant all you want about administrative “excesses”…but dont look too carefully at the percentage of admin salaries to total salaries. And again, maybe ask the BOARD why they make these decisions for overlap instead of putting the onus on the administrators–you know, the employees in this equation.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    So — let me get this straight, are you saying that the bonus was given to cover the cost of UPenn education for Waters son?

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    No. The board member worked at UPenn and that is what doctors there get — tuition assistance for THEIR CHILDREN….Dr. Waters only child graduated from college several years ago and has NOTHING to do with any of this. I was clarifying that the $35K was poorly conceived by the then board, and has remained as an obligation…and has not been added to his base salary as far as I know.

    Indignation does not become any of us. As for the stress at CHS vs. other schools…Lower Merion spends their money on litigation. Radnor built schools they could not afford (and stalled to be able to build the school because they were ineligible to borrow for the Middle School because of the price of the high school). There are dirty little secrets wherever you look. During the time Dr. Waters has been at TESD, LMSD and Radnor have probably had 10 superintendents between them. All with severance packages and more.

    You all get what you elect. And who runs …and why would anyone run when the scrutiny is online and not in person.

    I think the discussion is fine — just the facts were inaccurate. Don’t ever think that the contracts you read for any executive in ANY context reflect their compensation package. There are no stock options in public service. I challenged the board a decade ago for the $35K. No one responded.
    The line for superintendents is very short…because of the eligibility issues. And lets try to remember that TESD is still rather well regarded and successful — at the relatively LOWEST tax burden in the state. Someone can dig out those numbers again, but this group rants about treating people badly, rants about excessive tax increases, rants about overpaid administrators, and yet re-elects members of the board who have directly stood for these decisions. And still gets more bang for their buck educationally than any surrounding districts. (Or at least in the top 5) Contrary to the consistent refrain — TE kids do not do well JUST because they have smart parents with high expectations. We are not Lake Woebegone.

    How’s the educational product doing?

    The graduation rate for the public schools where I live now is 46%. All the smart kids are in private school. Or at least that’s the logic the legislature uses….a well regarded recently retired high school math teacher specifically said to me (and please pardon the language) “You can’t make chicken soup out of chicken shit.” The kids don’t care — well, not with that attitude anyway. Teachers haven’t had raises in years. There is no power. NC schools have gone from top drawer to the bottom 20% of the country — and the teachers are poorly paid.
    Our TESD payroll system is inflated based on demand — led front and center by Lower Merion. I’m sorry there is so much negativity about Dr. Waters and his staff, because I think that TESD is well run and smoothly functioning. The buildings open on time, the facilities are maintained, and every once in awhile, someone wastes a lot of money (think football stadium)…
    The morale is low IN THE UNITED STATES. I’m sorry for that. Times are different. Another shooting today at Ft. Hood. People who do not have pensions funded by taxpayers (teachers, police, fire, politicians) have delayed retirement plans perhaps forever. But it’s the system you live in.

    Just the facts ma’am. Good luck.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Side,

    Could you expand on “the PA constitution does not allow for a decrease in compensation.”

    Administrators in other districts around here and the country are agreeing to salary freezes and reductions. Do administrators have to agree to it?

    “But don’t look too carefully at the percentage of adminis. salaries to total salaries.”

    Are you implying that it’s O.K for administrators to make excessive salaries because the overall amount is insignificant when compared to the entire budget?

    Thanks

    [Reply]

  6. By the way!!!!!!!!
    Where is The Suburban and The Main Line Times on this?
    Another example of how they are in Dan’s back pocket.

    [Reply]

  7. Sidelines is correct. It’s an annual $35,000 payment not an annual $35,000 increase. So his annual base pay is $224,515 and his annual income is $224,515 plus $35,000 plus the difference between the cost of benefit package and 15% of his base (roughly $34,000) plus his portion of contribution to PSERS – not sure what that amount is plus up to 14 days of work at his per diem rate – which I believe would be somewhere in the vicinity of $900 per diem which would add somewhere around $12750 plus an automobile.

    That would put his annual compensation somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000 not the $400,000 you calculated. I did not see any annual built in increase for his base salary.

    Additional compensation are retirement type – $5,000 annual retention bonus, accrued sick and vacation days compensation, the treatment of additional bonuses above as base salary for supplemental retirement pay calculations. That will be a hefty initial retirement bump.

    I may have missed some things but I don’t think my annual calculation is far off the mark.

    So, well compensated, indeed – hard to compare with the others you listed above as we do not have their additional compensation package only their known base. My guess is that he is much better compensated but I don’t know without looking at details.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    When appointed as Superintendent, he made less than half what LMSD was ADVERTISING for Superintendent. I posted it all before, but Dr. Waters has earned his merit increases in TESD…many neighboring districts have given up to 50% bumps to get people to take their jobs from smaller rural districts. When someone becomes a Superintendent, they effectively LOSE tenure as they become contracted employees. Prior to serving as Principal at Conestoga (Dr. Waters first position in the district), he was a principal at other levels in a suburban district. He served through 3 superintendents I believe (though he may have only served through 2 if he was hired by Jamie Mackenzie who was followed by Dr. Foot)
    May 2010 local paper coverage on paychecks locally:
    http://www.mainlinetoday.com/Main-Line-Today/May-2010/What-rsquos-It-Pay/index.php?cparticle=2&siarticle=1

    See who still makes that today? You will notice that Dr. Waters base salary is the same today as it was then…

    [Reply]

  8. Dr. Waters has been serving a superb School District since 1999 in his current position and since 1989 since his career began in T/E. T/E has maintained itself as one of the best public school systems in Pennsylvania, and the nation, and can compete against any top-tier private school.

    Dr. Waters clearly has done an excellent job as Superintendent, obviously has the respect of the board, and clearly has my firm respect. As a parent in T/E, I’ll certainly miss him when he is gone.

    [Reply]

  9. Dr. Waters also drives a vehicle we as tax payers pay for?
    I was under the impression we tax payers paid his child’s college education as well this should be clarified.

    [Reply]

  10. “We are taxpayers” pay his salary. We did not pay his son’s education. The $35K is annual. Presumably HE paid his son’s education with that.

    As to his car — the district owns the car. He drives it. Unless things have changed in the past 25 years, that’s pretty standard for most school districts, as the bulk of the driving is between sites. He pays taxes on the FMV of the personal use. But the contract is on line. Feel free to read it.

    [Reply]

  11. BB, well maybe so. and if all this or most of this district success is attributable to his leadership, then he should be compensated fairly and competitively. I just don’t know how much credit he deserves, and I don’t know if the market is driving his extra salaried largess, like cars, tuition for kids, etc… I am confident that when he is gone he will be kept on as an advisor to the new Supe and will receive a nice stipend. and when he leaves his counselorship, the new supe will have the opportunity to make his own mark.. I am betting we will be fine.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    “make his own mark”….presume a man huh?
    Regardless, every superintendent follows the TESD path…the only one that tried aggressively to “make his own mark” was Jamie Mackenzie…who left in the dark of night. HIS predecessor sold Paoli and Strafford. (Garwood?)

    Rich Gusick, Delvin Dinkins, Tom Tobin, Stephanie Demming, Amy, Matt, ..many others…that will be the cream of any applicant pool IF they want it. Dinkins left because he was worn down by state mandates and their disregard for excellence in schools. He left public education. And remember–administrators have tenure in PA if they came through the classroom…but Superintendents give that up. Younger people (like Dr. Waters when he took the job) are taking risks to go that route…but creative boards can accomplish ways to make it work.
    I would guess/hope there will not be a long search…it’s more about meeting eligibility requirements, and the fraternity of eligible candidates will make their interest known early on…Dr. Foot did not pick Dan–the board did. But Dr. Foot had not hired very many people in his time here and was not personally engaged with much of his staff. In fact, the board has a process to interview each administrator to discuss their ambitions, and that process aided in filling several positions without little if any turnover.

    [Reply]

  12. Every district is required to have a credentialled Superintendent. When Dr. Mackenzie left, TE had an acting superintendent (Barry Yocum) while a national search produced Dr. Foot. Superintendents do not generally hang around to,advise their successor, and few TE admins retired and took any stipend to supervise their successor.
    Dr. Waters was selected to replace Dr. Foot. Because he was in-house, there was overlap. On Dr. Waters watch,,we saw the retirements of Dr. O’Shea (student services), Dr. Videlock (Dr. O’Shea’s successor), Dr. Pollock (high school), Dr. Slobojan, Mr. Beatty, Mr. Capetola, Dr. Riggs, the VFMS long-time principal, and many, many elementary principals. I cannot name anyone who came to TE and left for another district some who were counselled out and Dr. Tobin, who left for other administrative opportunities and returned after successful jobs in Lower Merion and elsewhere.
    TESD is about a culture…of excellence and high standards. Going outside the district to interview possible admins can be very discouraging, and TESD developed an in-house process of identifying people to enter our administration. Look around at the admins who came out of our classrooms. The loyalty is deep, and it is that loyalty that has resulted in a stable district. Dr. Waters final contract was a statement of loyalty and TESD pride.

    Right now there are a dozen or more open jobs for Superintendent in PA. Ironically, several of the searches are headed by Dr. DeFlaminis, the former Superintendent of Radnor schools who was essentially run off by board politics and ushered in a decade of revolving doors for his job. But Radnor has survived, and good school districts with solid funding and committed citizens will always survive, But read the archieves of the Suburban and you can learn about some very ugly history and low morale in Radnor during those times.

    When we were creating a contract for Dr. waters when he began in this job, Lower Merion’s Board president declared to me that LM would always have the highest paid Superintendent because they had the best school district. politics (and hundreds of millions on construction) changed the political leadership….and they have had 3 Superintendents during Dr. waters time at TE. Dr. Waters could have had any open job he had sought. TE sought to keep him.

    Will TESD continue to be successful when Dan is gone? I have said it before–the morale issues reflect the morale in the country, and it wasnt until the Board changed the process and put Dr. Waters at the bargaining table that there was this vitriolic anti-Waters backlash.

    Learning the job is easy…learning the culture of a school district is hard. Its a $100+ million dollar business with about a thousand employees. it works. The ultimate decision makers are a board of volunteers elected through a process of putting signs in yards. (with all due respect, even more effort than that can be ignored by most of the boters).

    Growing pains. If we know anything, it is that stability has benefits, but familiarity breeds contempt too.

    Google (Bing) “School Superintendent jobs in PA”…Phoenixville had a very difficult job hiring someone (their board was chaired by the retired teacher from TESD who ran TEEA). We have several highly qualified candidates in house and nearby…they did not take that job because working here is good, and you LOSE TENURE when you take that job. IF Dr. waters helps the next Sup, it will only be at the urging of the board. You will learn what largesse it takes to fill the job. So many here glibly presume we have a great opportunity, but every single hire in TESD since 1999 has been to work for Dr. Waters.

    [Reply]

  13. I would be interested in knowing how Conestoga rated 20 years ago and how it has fared during Dr. Waters tenure.

    One reason I find this interesting is that I’ve heard conventional wisdom (from “old timers” or people who grew up here and came back to raise their own family) would rate Radnor schools as better than TE. However, lots of people who have moved to this area in the last 5-10 years would say TE is better. I think they are both great schools and have their strengths and weaknesses (size being one of those), but there are objective criteria and rankings and I think TE rates higher on most of those?

    Has Dr. Waters’ tenure been one of academic prosperity? If so, I would say reward him. If it hasn’t, then maybe he didn’t earn those bonuses.

    I do appreciate the lower tax base than most other districts and the consistency in the administration. I personally know of long-term subs who would be thrilled to get a contract in TE, so I don’t buy the “we can’t attract teachers” rationale.

    [Reply]

  14. They are all good and always have been. The differences are purely subjective. Taxes are relatively cheaper here than in Radnor or LM, but alll schools are ranked more today than ever. Parents are far more engaged in e details, and the state is far more involved. Local control is much less in control, as finances are state regulated.

    Radnor, Lower Merion, TESD, GVSD, WCSD and most surrounding districts are all capable of delivering first class educations. This region is highly educated and college degrees are a standard expectation. TE has spent their “superintendent” money on payroll, not searches,,sabbaticals and severance. Few, if any, of the surrounding districts I mentioned can say the same. And yes, TE continues to be ranked at or near the top.

    [Reply]

  15. Dr. Water’s salary is 0.3% of the operational budget of the T/E School District. Even if T/E were to find someone equal to him (BB note: doubtful) at half the cost, the savings to the District are immaterial. The four biggest District expenditures are: Pension, Health Care, Salaries, and Utilities. The board has a voice with health care and salaries, and the Administration deals with Utilities (which I’m assuming they competitively shop for competitive rates). Understanding this (and that contracts are signed and sealed for the next few years) there really isn’t nearly as much wiggle room as one might think, and I don’t think Dr. W’s salary is inappropriate. I have an extremely high opinion of the man.

    Now that TEEA and TENIG contracts are set in stone, there really is very little for T/E to wiggle in terms of cost savings. Anyone care to have a discussion on how the upcoming GASB regulations will have an affect regarding the unfunded liabilities of the pension and the portion affecting each School District?

    Finally, a point I bring up before, T/E is better managed, better funded, and just all out superior to all the Districts in the state. Yes, Lower Merion and Radnor are quality School Districts, so are others, but they are all in a tier of excellence; just seems silly we constantly seem to nitpick here.

    I will defend Dan Waters until his last day with T/E.

    [Reply]

    Middle school aide Reply:

    Take your blinders off.

    The scores in the high school have dropped since he added another class to the teachers to save money. Less one on one time with the students.
    Ranking of the school is dropping.
    Keep defending him as he does nothing any more to make this district better. Other then drive a car around, flex his muscles, scares people if they do not fall in line.
    His reputation in the district is the worst person. Not just because of his treatment of the teachers, or aides. Principles cannot speak, but his tone to them is dreadful.
    Just a bad person. Maybe he once was sane and good. Not anymore.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    That behavior, if true, is on the BOARD. Why did they coax him into a new contract in 2010? He is the employee. All this anonymous stuff is counter productive. MORALE says secret meetings were held with supportive board members…what kind of governance is that? Your anecdotal complaints here are useless…stand up and be counted. no one deserves your respect that doesnt earn it, and no one deserves a vote to be on a board that doesnt do what is best for TESD and the students. Its hollow coming from me, but I assure you that a board member who protects an employee from consequences is failing in their job. DEMAND more from the board publically…not behind closed doors. Pattye’s name on this blog is not enough…stand up or shut up…harsh but real. GET IT DONE. When I objected to the $35k annual kicker, I demanded a base salary freeze for the balance of Dr.Waters career. Information needs to be accurate, and shared. You may think Im out of touch, but in fact, Im out of favor and tried to avoid meetings. I went to very few. Several board members didnt like the scrutiny because they wanted things to be pleasant and I never bluff. Truth is an absolute defense, but it cannot be anonymous and on blogs. Stand up for what is right. But tell the story to people who can do something about it, in a forum where they cannot duck it. And support your opinions with information. Dont let others allow TESD to suffer.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    I know a number of T/E employees — aides, teachers, paras, support staff, kitchen workers, custodians and they are AFRAID of retribution for speaking out. I don’t know why you find that hard to believe. When I talk about the low morale in T/E, you dismiss it and say it’s everywhere in the country. The aides and paras in T/E are referred to as ‘disposable’ and work in an environment with the threat of outsourcing always present — T/E the only school district in the area that offers the lowest paid employees no health insurance. You tell others to use their name but you continue to comment anonymously. Frankly, I take real issue at your comment “stand up or shut up” — if you financially needed your job (no matter how difficult or negative the environment) you probably wouldn’t be so cavalier in your remarks. I have a hard time believing that every story I have heard about low morale and bullying tactics has been made up.

    Middle school aide Reply:

    We cannot speak. Word is spreading down here in the middle school about what happened to an English Teacher in the high school.
    King Dan rules. And the principles are spineless. So that leaves everybody quiet because they have no where to go, or the hatchet will fall and they will make your life miserable until you until you leave.
    I am stunned by how uninformed sidelines is about what is going on in the schools.

  16. BB,

    The rhetoric does not match the reality in 2014. Perhaps your description better suits 13 years ago when sidelines last served on the board. I don’t know because it was before my time, but nothing you say above has anything to do with the current state of affairs.

    [Reply]

  17. SL…quoting Mitch Albom’s newest book
    “For those who believe, no amount of proof is required. For those who do not believe, no amount of proof is enoughh.”

    BB’s observations are not rhetoric. TE is better managed and better funded than most if not all comparably sized schools in the state. the morale issues are brought on by financial forces that come from outside the district, and from scrutiny of those who have little experience anyplace else…The devil you know and all that “rhetoric.” Im sorry that your experience is so disheartening. Given the strategic direction of public education (see my earlier comments from a retired Georgia high school math teacher), I really can offer no consolation. What you have is so much better than 95% of the country, the only impvements are likely to come from the legislature…Act 1 is hated and loved…parents are not taxpayers as the services provided cost far more than your own taxes cover.
    I would suggest you push hard to get the community to face up to a referendum, either for an EIT or for a specific budget. But before you do, please read the relevant portions of the school code…see what is possible, not just what would be helpful in a perfect world. And then look at the cost at the next level…and wonder why it costs $30k+ for state schools. US Labor is expensive. Pay aides more and cut sports? Offer benefits and cut bussing (not mandated). Drop kindergarten altogether? The cost controls and opportunities are extremely limited…and it has nothing to do with 10 years ago. The auto industry, the steel industry, outsourcing manufacturing, outsourcing accounting and book keeping functions, customer service centers all over the world…the world is flat. Solutions evolve.charter schools are “revolutionary”…and exclusionary, The current state of affairs cannot just be about what is not optimal…it has to be about what is possible, and affordable. The world of schools changed with Columbine. It changed more with Newtown. The class size study in Tennessee was ultimately refuted, and Bill and Melinda Gates (and Singapore) have demonstrated it is the person at the front of the classroom that matters…but tenure laws restrict options there. Certification requirements restrict applicant pools. I spent almost 25 hours a week on average for 11 years, and there was still plenty to learn. And I had an extensive background that was helpful in my learning curve. It cant be about one experience…it IS about a district…40,000 residents with lots of perspectives and diverse needs. All for a state proscribed curriculum with collective bargaining unfettered by strike restrictions but a budget process controlled by a state number.

    On and on. No simple answers, Good luck.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Sidelines,

    I’m confused and do not understand the above comment. What happened to:

    “Here’s the deal. Instead of cutting people, this board should look into unilateral reduction of benefits and make them available for everyone.”

    Side, this is a great idea of yours and would take care of our urgent problems in a matter of moments.

    [Reply]

  18. Dr. Waters is an excellent employee, T/E is an excellent District. This was the case in 2001, this is this case in 2014.

    His contract is clear, visible, and public knowledge. The contract is inclusive of all the salaries, benefits, and compensation; and was voted on by a board of directors. If you have a problem with his compensation, email your board member, not some guy wearing bikinis on a blog.

    The reality is the job of the board is to compensate and maintain high-quality employees and other personnel. Clearly the board has been happy with Dr. Waters, and politics is part of the job. I maintain that the board, and Dr. Waters, have does a superb job maintaining the District and offer no criticism. This was my position in 2001, and it is my position in 2014. We can disagree.

    [Reply]

  19. Sidelines makes a sweeping generalization that morale is bad everywhere. She is wrong! As a former TE employee who has since moved on to Lower Merion, I for one can tell you the difference between the two districts is like night and day. Staff at all levels is treated with the upmost respect. The respect starts at the TOP which sets the tone for managers further down the ladder. And, it has nothing to do with money. In LM, they value your input even if it is not what they want to hear. You do not receive a black mark for providing honest feedback.
    Ask any long-term TE employee how things have changed. They will surely talk longingly of the good old days when employees were respected and their opinions valued. Those days are long gone and most employees are very careful about what they say for fear of retribution.
    Two main things happened that started the downward morale spiral. First, Deb Ciamacca (former TEEA President) prepared a survey to explore strengths and weaknesses at the district and building levels. She was BEGGED by administration NOT to send it out! Deb was warned of the ‘political’ fallout. What??? She did so anyway and the results showed some good things and issues that needed to be addressed. The TOP leadership was not happy but promised to go from building to building to address issues with staff.
    One needed earplugs as employees were screamed at for their opinions, told how lucky they were to have jobs, and more. Those who spoke up were black marked. It was a sad thing to see Dr. Slobojan with her head down as the explosive language took place.
    The second downfall was Dr. Slobojan’s departure. She was brilliant! Marie moved the district forward in so many ways. She sought out different points of view and never held a grudge. To this day, no employee or group of employees matches her skill level.
    What others have said is true – word on the street is TE is NOT the place to be. Conestoga is the only high school around where teachers must teach six periods. Back in the day, this might not have been awful but throw into the mix the needs of today’s diverse student population and their schedule is absurd. It would be interesting to compare the number of sick days taken before and after the switch as most teachers (even those with years of experience) are exhausted.
    Will TE find employees? Yes, supply outstrips demand. The real question is will the best stay once they get tenure?
    Meanwhile, employees continue to get moved whether or not they are a good fit for the position of transfer. Personnel doesn’t even bother to ask for interested candidates – Administration doesn’t care. And while some movement was made in good faith to save jobs, a fair amount was targeted to people who spoke up for what they felt was right.
    Staff still joke about the bullying program in place for the students. There is a strong feeling that administration should take the program and listen carefully.
    Things at the surface level have improved. Why? There were exhaustive behind the scene talks between key union members and supportive school board members. These board members were shocked at the behavior mentioned about administration, though in the true secretive TE manner, they will never admit it.
    Since then, administrators have been on the good will tour. New employees might buy it but those who lived through the darkest days know what a facade is.

    Let’s talk money. I’m always surprised that no one – Ray Clarke, TE school board or administration brings up the real reason taxes have gone up so much in the last decade – increased student enrollment! One simply needs to go to openpagov.org and see that between 2001-2002 and 2010-2011 TE taxes have gone up a whopping 2% when the 25% increase in student enrollment is accounted for. That’s not 2% a year, it’s 2% for ten years! So, keep blaming the unions, keep looking to outsource your lowest wage employees. The numbers are facts. The ‘cry wolf’ concerns are the spin. Do you think if the community was told the facts, they would be more willing to raise taxes?

    Sidelines mentions that the 100% pay bonus is used as an incentive for administrators not to take a sabbatical. Has anyone wondered how many teachers in TE take sabbaticals. It is not many. Why? Because the district makes you jump through so many hoops most teachers give up. This despite the fact that the benefit is granted under the PA School Code. You practically need a lawyer to get a sabbatical approved in TE. Ask teachers in other districts and you will find one simply needs to follow the PA School Code and the sabbatical is granted. Under sidelines logic, teachers should get a full year bonus when they retire. (I know SL, teachers are easy to replace but administrators are not – ask a teacher how their job would be different if central office disappeared and they will most likely answer that it WOULDN’T!)

    Finally, sidelines mentions a number of in house people who would be perfect to take over as superintendent. A few mentioned have moved on, and of the remaining, maybe one or at best two have the capacity to handle the job responsibilities. If the superintendent comes from inside, morale will not improve. Part of the in house training is to drink the TE cool aide. The only hope is to hire from outside, find someone with lots of experience, and one who understands that leadership sets the tone.

    [Reply]

    TE Teacher Reply:

    Thank you for your comments, I could not agree more.

    As one of the teachers inside the District, nothing could be truer about the low morale and you are right, “The only hope is to hire from outside, find someone with lots of experience, and one who understands that leadership sets the tone.”

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Morale,
    .
    I hope you really don’t believe “increased student enrollment” is the “real reason taxes have gone up so much in the last decade.” I’ve heard this “interesting” justification expressed by a Uniserv representative at the bargaining table. The logic of backing out student growth from tax growth is flawed. Those new students live in new houses that bring in additional tax revenue via transfer taxes and additions to the assessment base. Plus, it ignores the growth in the commercial properties added to the assessment base. A much better metric is spending per student. I haven’t looked lately, but I think TE is in the middle of the pack with spending per student growing a bit above the Act 1 Index.
    .
    As for sabbaticals, they should be removed from school code. Jobs in education are no more stressful or demand more independent research than any other field. Historically, sabbatical leaves were inserted into law at a time when compensation for the teaching profession was quite different.
    .
    When comparing TE to LM in any category it’s important to include the tax burden and academic achievement of each. TE spends about $17K per student; LM around $25K per student. That $8K difference might help with morale, but would require an immediate 45% increase in RE taxes. And what does that $8K difference mean for academic achievement? Nothing when comparing test scores. TE scores a bit above LM.

    [Reply]

    Citizen Taxpayer Reply:

    I’ve been reading Community Matters for a long time. I’m chuckling to myself how you always feel the need to jump in. Sounds like there is so much stuff going on in Unionville that you might be busy with that. How do you know how stressful working in education is? You never did.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    As a sitting school board member, even if it is UCF, I appreciate Keith’s input. There are often similarities between T/E and UCF, and he brings a school board ‘take’ to the issues. I may not always agree with his comments but support his right to contribute to the dialogue. It my perfect world, more elected officials would be involved in the discussion.

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    I’m not sure that enrollment has driven tax increases. I don’t have the time to get the data for the same years mentioned above, but I do know:

    2004/5 to 2014/15 proposed:
    Tax increase: 36%
    Enrollment increase: 14%

    There are many factors contributing to the increase, including increases in compensation, purchased service prices, special education utilization. Those increases have been offset by improved productivity and have been mitigated by a small increase in the District’s assessed value.

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    On the morale question, I have been thinking that an employee satisfaction survey – professionally designed – ought to provide a fair gauge of issues in the District. There will always be a distribution along the happiness spectrum, but any organization needs to know statistically where the median is and what is driving the outliers. It’s disappointing to read that Mrs. Ciamacca’s efforts were apparently resisted and poorly addressed. Perhaps it’s worth investing in a third party to provide completely objective data.

    From the above report it seems that the Board and administration have taken active steps that perhaps have been well received by new employees. It may be best to focus on reinforcing those developments rather than looking back to a past when the economics and constraints were completely different.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Ray — not sure I’m following you: “From the above report it seems that the Board and administration have taken active steps that perhaps have been well received by new employees”. What active steps are you talking about?

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    Quoting from the post:

    “Things at the surface level have improved. Why? There were exhaustive behind the scene talks between key union members and supportive school board members. These board members were shocked at the behavior mentioned about administration, though in the true secretive TE manner, they will never admit it.
    Since then, administrators have been on the good will tour. New employees might buy it but those who lived through the darkest days know what a facade is”

    I like to believe that the glass is half full.

    Shining Light Reply:

    Ray,

    I like your idea –alot. A professionally designed employee satisfaction survey from an independent third party to provide completely objective data.

    Even if this could happen, I’m not sure teachers would trust it. They are fearful of retribution and say very little even when asked and even when they know they have the support of the asker.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    Shining,
    I believe you are correct. A survey is a nice thought but I don’t think anyone would take part.

    Shining Light Reply:

    Thank-you Morale and TE Teacher for your comments. It is a necessary and courageous thing to do.

    Morale, you say that things at the surface level have improved…………there were behind the scene talks between key union members and supportive board members…..
    Board members were shocked at the behavior mentioned about administrators……….

    I’m curious if any of the board members involved in the behind the scene talks are still serving on the current board……Thanks

    [Reply]

  20. Morale
    Pretty easy to take shots without accurate information. I charged into no meetings. I was asked to speak on behalf of Betsy F. In early days by Sandy G. So what you believe is not onlynirrelevant to this discussion, it is off topic to any comments I am making. I’ll leave it to others to respond to your financial summaries…and I guess there are grievances from teachers to support your sabbatical claims…or not.
    People are not on school boards to be liked. It is this pathetic public anonymous scrutiny that makes public service so distasteful. I resigned from the board after 3 successful elections at the final meeting before they were to be televised. I preferred to see the faces of those with opinions. I had a death threat from some unknown source that required police involvement because of the “little bit of heaven in Berwyn” which the Tredyffrin BOS tried to squeeze the school district into acquiring.
    I met with union people from LM in those days because their contract was so limited…5 approved reasons for a personal day, none of which were personal.

    But you know about personal…all but your name. You think I dont understand TESD anymore. I dont claim to support most of what has happened over the past decade. I know first hand from younger teachers, some of them were my own children’s classmates. I continue relationships with many teachers and wish the lines of communication were as open today as they were when Carol Aichele and I did a teachers contract without lawyers or the PSEA…because there was trust. And I guess I blame the board when things go badly. Dr. Foot was seen as out of touch by many in TESD…the board addressed it. Whatever your claims about TESD, I dont see any big public, personal (ie not on anonymous blogs) evidence. You work in LMSD now…maybe even with tenure. Why be anonymous? Jim, Lisa, Joyce…plenty of former TESD friends who could stand with you.

    So since knowing that morale in LM and RADNOR were horrible once, and TE is bad now doesnt mean life is over, I’ll happily cease my participation here. And guess what…no one needs to care. I was elected by taxpayers and in leadership on the board because the board elected me to it. I paid private school tuition when I didn’t think TESD met the needs of my family. whining is simply not attractive…and anonymous whining is noise..

    [Reply]

  21. Side,

    Your memory must be fading. I was at a finance committee when you came in using less than, shall we say, respectful commentary toward the committee members. And, you were clearly not asked by any board member to interject your thoughts. In fact, I watched as eyes rolled.

    Interesting that you’ll leave financial summaries to others. You never passed up a chance to look into money issues before – I guess if it doesn’t suit your arguments, you don’t bother to look.

    Calling into question my anonymity? Ha! You have used multiple names ever since you have been posting, no? If you are going to be anonymous at least be consistent.

    You know first hand from younger teachers? Doubtful, I can’t imagine any of them telling you anything other than what you want to hear.

    Things have changed. Lower Merion teachers get 5 personal days – no questions asked. And, they can use them to extend a holiday – try that in TE! Teacher plans over spring break – cancelled for snow days in TE – LM, provide proof of payment and off you go. Need to leave early or come in a little late due to a doctor’s appointment? LM provides an hour on either side of the day.

    Why does speaking the truth equal whining? Ask Pattye about her many meetings with support staff and see whether she feels they were whining – how insulting of you!

    So, you’ll cease commentary on this board. Boy, I have heard that from you (under various names) for years. You move to the south but you somehow can’t let go.

    I once learned a saying from a master TE teacher – “The truth hurts.” I speak the truth. I thank God every day I got out of TE, but I comment because of the know-it-alls who don’t have a clue about what is really happening inside TE’s buildings.

    P.S. – I will take you at your word – I don’t expect a reply!

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    Morale’
    I will stop commenting here, but I won’t allow your last word to sit unanswered.

    “Your memory must be fading. I was at a finance committee when you came in using less than, shall we say, respectful commentary toward the committee members. And, you were clearly not asked by any board member to interject your thoughts. In fact, I watched as eyes rolled.”

    So you make my point. The BOARD is responsible for the issues in this district. This eye rolling took place by which finance committee — the one that decided every budget decision in executive session? The one that gave Dr. Waters $35K for his son’s Georgetown tuition, only to find out later that you could not take it away? The one that did the previous teacher contract that basically destroyed the labor structure , or the one that went to 6 periods at the high school for “budget reasons.” Maybe it’s the one that Betsy Fadem is quoted as saying they would outsource every job if they didn’t get concessions. What respectful tone do you read from anyone here? Anonymously?

    My anonymity is not anonymous — anyone posting here knows who I am. I make no secret of it. I just don’t want people googling me and reading every comment I ever wrote.

    When I walked away from the board, Mrs. Fadem asked publically if I would allow the board to grow together and stop coming to meetings. I did so happily. When the next board isolated Mrs. Fadem and made it impossible for her to hold a leadership role, Mrs. Gorman asked me to come to the policy and full board meetings and attempt to change that. I did come, I made my “eye rolling statements” to Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Wood, and Mrs. Fadem ultimately was elected VP then Pres of the board. Once I had served my purpose, she would no longer meet with me on board issues as I rarely tolerate arrogance about this PUBLIC FUNCTION, so I occasionally came to meetings. VERY occasionally.

    I’m laying it all out here so that you can understand once and for all that I DO know what is happening in the district and I DO care, because obnoxious or not, it would NOT have happened on my watch. So you can say “doubt it” but you won’t find anyone I ever worked with in the teaching ranks or elsewhere that didn’t believe me. May not have loved what I said, but trusted it.
    Lower Merion has good morale =– I get that. They also have litigation costs out of proportion because they spied on their students and parents. They created racial tensions because they redistricted in private and sent minority kids to Harriton to balance the population. Another major legal bill. So let’s not forget that everyone has their own issues.

    “You know first hand from younger teachers? Doubtful, I can’t imagine any of them telling you anything other than what you want to hear. ”

    What is it that I want to hear? My kids are grown and gone. I sent one to private school because TE wasn’t the right place for him….he heard from too many teachers to “go ask your mother.” I don’t agree with the 6 period day — anymore than I agree with a 7:35 minute day. I asked Paul Slaninka for an 8 hour day to stop the noise about “don’t work 8 hours” because no teacher worth anything can get their job done in 7:35 and shouldn’t be accused of it.

    I have never discounted the morale issues in house. I have spoken with aides, teachers, new teachers, transferred teachers, retired teachers. I talked to departing administrators. When I learned something worthy, I expressed it by letter to the board or in person. Eyes often rolled because this board, for the most part, has traded in arrogance. Mr. Mahoney attempted to discipline Debra Ciamacca in public several years ago…and it was THIS BOARD that barred non-taxpaying public speech. IF Dr. Waters has become the ogre you claim he is, and I might question details of it it, but I don’t dispute it, I simply suggest that it is THIS BOARD that coaxed him into the final contract, gave him an annual retention bonus for staying, and cancelled the Public Information committee. THIS BOARD has a Board President with 3 kids in the schools (so he is at personal risk when he pushes back) and a financial interest in the district. When I did some work for Mrs. Bookstaber when she was on the board, some board members suggested to her that she not allow me in her house where I might see materials that were private….talk about paranoid board members!! When the warnings about PSERS first surfaced, I did a RTK request for financial information and was charged a huge amount for the materials — which when I challenged it, was rescinded, but they decided to keep a “log of every request and the cost to provide it by name.” I was not given electronic copies — I had to sit in the office with the business manager next to me and read quietly. The board was not providing for the Spike in any way at that time. So don’t tell me about what I want to hear. I can handle the truth….but I put little stock in someone who cannot own their words. I get Pattye’s “financial stake” comment, but MORALE — you have no such stake, right? It’s people IN THE SCHOOLS – staff and students — that need a voice.

    “Can’t let go” referring to me is an interesting comment coming from someone who left TESD and celebrates from another district…References here to private meetings with staff accomplishes little but inflames the rhetoric. Make your case in public. The Superintendent serves AT THE PLEASURE OF THE BOARD. The previous board lamented at election time that they couldn’t get things on the agenda, but admit that the policy allows ANY board member to move things from Consent to General discussion. What’s all this niceness about? If things are ugly, they need to be exposed and fixed.

    So –true to my statement, there will be no more commentary. This is a reply to YOU MORALE. You apparently know what I think and feel, why I care is immaterial. I went to TE Schools. I sent my kids to TE schools. When I moved back to this area, I got involved in the schools, ran for the board successfully (3 times) and happily shook the hand of a retiring administrator who had tormented me as a child…I got the last word. I was elected by my peers to board roles where I believe I served the district well. My constituents were ALWAYS the kids. I’m glad for you that you moved to LMSD and like that contract better. The PSEA has always used neighboring contracts to change local contracts…and if what you say is true, then TEEA will probably attempt to get that language in a future effort here.
    But don’t denigrate me for saying things that the board doesn’t want to hear. You can’t get change from the top if you don’t start at the top. And my “leaving financial summaries to others” is because what you said — a 2% increase in 10 years was obviously a typo. I have an undergraduate degree in business, an MBA and a whole lot of financial background, so budgets are fairly easy for me to understand. I don’t need to explain them here. Others are far more engaged in the details (note even Ray doesn’t want to go look old numbers up anymore…it’s PAST, not future).
    TESD boards artificially controlled tax increases after I left the board — they raise the spending 5% and froze the millage. (an example, not a specific reference). It was a tactic that boards in the 80s had used and resulted in major tax hikes whenever they wanted or thought it was appropriate. It was a philosophy that Act 1 eliminated…but the tactic was still used. And as a result, this board actually floated at $10M+/- bond and didn’t build anything….and they used the Act 1 index as a ceiling when it didn’t need to be, and now use it as a floor with exceptions (despite a fund balance that was specifically built up to prepare for the PSERS spike)

    But enough about any of that. If you want to contact me privately, and want my replies to be personal, Mrs. Benson knows how to reach me. In the meantime, I would ask that you stop making your replies personal, as I don’t have the benefit of knowing you who are.

    [Reply]

  22. I am listening to this back and forth and wonder what the truth really is about the morale and dictatorial nature of TE School District’s behavior, about the relationship between the Board and the Administration, and the teachers, aides, etc.

    If it is really that bad, then a grievance procedure should be in place, where yes, anonymously, grievances should be heard. Right?

    [Reply]

  23. I am also waiting for retribution to occur to those currently non unionized workers as they research and decide about unionization.. Dare to put your name on a petition? Lets see how THIS unfolds.. even if in the end no unionization takes place… Dr. waters is watching….

    [Reply]

  24. Perhaps with some new board members the morale can be worked on inside the district? Someone needs to take charge and improve T/E? When and where to start?

    While nobody doubts Dan Waters ability to come in and keep T/E at the top. It is falling. Chaddsford /Unionville even Downingtown rank better. To have Dr. Waters high salary be questioned is not wrong. When the rest of the district has to sacrifice a little he should lead with equality and dignity. Not an ego.

    If the teachers are miserable, you can be certain those bad moods are reflected firsthand on how they treat and teach the children. Treat people with equal respect and we may actually thrive again.

    [Reply]

    Laura M. Reply:

    I hear what you are saying but there were 3 new board members elected last November and I don’t see anything has changed. After the election I had high hopes for inside the school changes but I see no evidence that anyone is trying to improve employee morale. Regardless of campaign promises, status quo appears to be the avenue of choice.

    [Reply]

    SupportStaff Reply:

    We need to keep voting NEW school board members in as the old ones terms expire. I believe there are 5 seats up in 2015. Residents need to make sweeping changes. Certain people on the board have been basically running an empire and need to go. Change is going to take some time.

    [Reply]

  25. Touchy feeling campaigning as per Scott Dorsey don’t translate into governing. poetry/prose quote from Cuomo I believe… probably the only thing he said I agree with :) You have Buraks. THings on the board aint changing…

    [Reply]

  26. Keith,

    Unlike UCF, TE has had very little land to develop. In fact, when large scale, high density proposals were floated, the TE administration ACTIVELY protested based on possible enrollment increases – and they succeeded.The majority of the student increase was due to housing turnover. As for the corporate side, there have been no new major developments and quite a few Chesterbrook properties sit vacant. The only major reassessments have lowered TE’s ability to collect the taxes they could in the past!
    Have you checked the website I mentioned? It’s purpose is to SPOTLIGHT overspending in the public schools. You can go there and check out UFC and determine how close the figures are. I would be interested to see what you find!
    Again, while the pay is great in LM the issues with MORALE have nothing to do with money. What don’t you get? Times are tough – I get it but true leadership knows how to make improvements and it wouldn’t cost a dime – It’s the simple things that make a difference – administration could start by simply saying hello when they are in the buildings!

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Hi Morale,
    .
    I’m not sure where openpagov.org got their data, but it’s inaccurate. This website incorrectly states that local tax increased by 17% over the 2001-2 to 2011-12 time period.
    .
    Here is the correct information obtained from the PDE website:
    In 2001-2 the millage rate was 12.93; in 2011-12 it was 18.65. That’s a 44% tax increase for every homeowner.
    .
    In 2001-2 the enrollment was 5386; in 2011-12 it was 6457. That’s a 20% increase.
    .
    In 2001-2 total expenditures were $69M; in 2011-12 it was $102M. That’s a 47% increase.
    .
    Therefore, the real reason taxes increased is not only student enrollment. It’s certainly a factor, but other factors contributed.
    .
    Ii have no information on TE’s morale and, therefore, no comment.
    .

    [Reply]

    Roberta Hotinski Reply:

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s inflation calculator, you’d need $1.27 in 2011 to buy what $1 bought in 2001. If assessed values haven’t increased (which I don’t believe they have), then the increases in expenditures seem consistent with the enrollment increases plus keeping pace with inflation, no?

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Yes, “expenditures seem consistent with the enrollment increases plus keeping pace with inflation”.

  27. From my view, Cruickshank, Buraks and Graham run the show and they support Dan and the administration completely.

    Burak’s law firm directly benefits from a financial relationship with the district.

    I don’t understand how can he can provide effective oversite as a school board President, when he has a financial stake in his relationship with the district.

    Scott Dorsey followed through with his commitment to form a public information committee, however he is closely watched and monitored by the three mentioned above so maybe things will loosen up in the future but for right now, the same three control the perspective and run the show.

    [Reply]

  28. Side,

    You crack me up! Most people know who you are but you use the alias so they don’t google everything about your life? Um, if they know who you are they CAN! You are so dismissive just because I use an alias? Guess what, most people who work in TE know who I AM. And for those who don’t, I don’t want them to google everything about me – sound familiar?

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    Morale–are you sure you are a teacher? You don’t seem to understand thhings easily…IF I used my name as the Name here,, then googling me would produce every post I had written. As it is, if you google me now, you can see minutes of meetings, quotes in the paper, and various unrelated data. So being anonymous here only keeps my blog posts here out of my history. I had started a blog “Understanding School Spending” but felt it was redundant to participation here and stopped. That, along with those meetings I attended and signed in–all on the record. letters I wrote to the board…all on the record. No hiding. See the difference? Anyone who knows any name can research anyone…I just dont want every blog post to be with my name forever. So please, hold your laughter. This may be entertaining for you, but it’s ugly and destructive for those who live it. And since you have so much first hand knowledge, and no fear of TE retribution, your choice to shout from the shadows is disappointing.

    [Reply]

  29. Sideline’s comments may not be palatable to some, but I know her work, and her commentary is right-on about 99.87312% of the time.

    Running a District has less flexible than one would think. Individual board members have far less power than one would think – it takes five votes to make something happen. Since T/E lives in a land of collective bargaining agreements, the amount of “budgetary flexibility” is extremely limited. In this case, since TEEA and TENIG have deals until 2017, what really can the board do to cut expenditures, especially with drastic PSERS costs rising?

    Folks, I’ll be blunt, the board has been super clear about these issues, super fair in regards to how they treat their employees, and it shows how well the school district is run. They run and organization of not products, but people. How can they reduce expenses without touching people in some fashion, either in concessions, outsourcing, etc., ? Lots of potshots here, but what real solutions are going to happen? Raising taxes each year just to keep up with PSERS? How many teachers (or non-instructional staff for that matter) apply for any one job? The economy out there is bad, T/E pays good, and is an excellent place to work. It’s not surprising that would have strong competition to get in the door.

    Folks, T/E is a great place. Let’s not tear it apart trying to realize this.

    [Reply]

  30. Side,

    Oh, I understand perfectly. I will not engage you further as I want to help you keep your word and cease participation on this blog.

    [Reply]

  31. Roberta,

    Thank you for pointing out the other piece of the cost puzzle. If one visits the site mentioned, you will see TE had one of the lowest tax increases in the STATE over that time period when both items are taken into account.
    So, wouldn’t this be something tax payers should know when the district is considering outsourcing and/or providing health care for its lowest compensated group of employees?

    [Reply]

  32. “Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people. (…) All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed. (…) The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another. (…) The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.”

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    Not sure that Mein Kampf plays so well in 2014. And this was especially fun: “The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning”. How did that slip by you, Pattye?!

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    Proud of you Ray…history is likely more fully examined in other cultures. Both quotes come from Mein Kampf, and I believe they are a warning to what happens when people engage their feelings without information to substantiate claims. Hitler wrote this long before his true power emerged, and it was the start of a blueprint to engage the hearts and thus the minds of the people.

    SL–this isnt about TESD or my views of it. And the propaganda is certainly not about CM, as Pattye offers a forum for all perspectives, but sometimes I can almost anticipate which PSEA talking points will be used…

    And if anyone wants to take anything at all away from my posts on this topic, CONFRONT the Board. When the BOS attacked Pattye with the JDB letter, I stood up against them. That is what comes out of googling me. Morale thought she was attacking me further by saying the Board rolled their eyes on some of my board visits, but in fact, anyone who saw them do that should have challenged just who they think they represent…and why they would disrespect any comments…especially in light of their spotty performance.

    Some years back, at a Public Information committee, the then President of the Board said specifically that while TE wants to be the best in the state academically, she had no interest in being the best in transparency. Well…the people of TESD have yielded to that strategy, and the only confrontation the board faces is here on CM, largely anonymously,

    As to the reference in the quote to a feminine character (it did not slip by Pattye…we discussed it before she approved it), I’m not sure that you can dispute that Ray…while it is not a pleasant reality, we certainly do reflect more on feelings and anecdotes than on “sober reasoning.” Once Pattye introduces a topic, Ray, very little if any supportive data comes from any but you and Keith. There is a lot of sniping (at me no less…) and hand wringing and anonymous validation of the mutual mourning, but little substantive (or objective) commentary. CONFRONT the board. I chastised Morale because she clearly has little to lose by stepping forward. You have to go to the top to get to the decision makers. Dont let your concerns be treated as propaganda…dont silently let others frame the discussion.

    [Reply]

  33. As to the methods to be employed in deploying propaganda …

    “Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side. (…) The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (…) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.”

    [Reply]

    Laura M. Reply:

    SL, who are you directing this comment at? I get that you dont agree with some comments but is it possible that your experience on the SB and with Waters may not be what the current experience of employees? Propaganda, really???

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Side,

    These comments on propaganda are meaningless and useless in the current conversation. They have no connection to what is being discussed. As a matter of fact, they scream of someone with a willful disconnect from the realities of the every day world.

    Treating practical issues with an impractical attitude shows a real lack of concern with urgent problems.

    [Reply]

  34. I know this comment is not about the local issues, but if you look at the propaganda against the Koch brothers, and as an example on Harry Reids’ govt website which may in fact be a violation of Senate ethics rules, you can see how propaganda serves the lowest baseline denominator with regards to the electorate, repeated, repeated, buzzwords that are irrelevant and often incorrect. But that doesn’t matter. Nary a word about George Soros… and others as they benefit from quiet. So it leads me to think 1- Harry Reid, a miserable person, has nothing substantive to offer as he himself wallows in hypocrisy, and 2- the Democratic party itself, void of solutions as to how to get out of the malaise they to a large degree put us in, is better at propaganda than the Republicans. November will be interesting..

    [Reply]

  35. I didnt know where to leave this comment but congratulations on your community award for the Paoli blues festival. I have gone every year, honor well-deserved.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, the Paoli Blues Fest was selected for this year’s community award by the Paoli Business & Professional Association. As the founders and the officers of the organization, Marie Thibualt, John Fattibene and myself will receive the award at tonight’s dinner and silent auction at the Desmond Hotel.

    [Reply]

  36. The “comments” are not mine, and not directed at anyone. They are a cautionary tale about how easily information can be ignored and how prey on feelings…they were written long ago.

    [Reply]

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