Four important votes took place at last night’s TE School Board meeting and unfortunately there was little surprise in the results.
- Approval of bonuses to TESD administrators – check
- Approval of bonuses to TESD supervisors – check
- Approval of $22K/yr. salary increase & 5-year contract to TESD Business Manager – check
- Approval of 3.2 percent tax increase to TESD homeowners – check
It was encouraging to see some new faces in the audience and one resident, Tracy Gould of Wayne, came prepared with handwritten signs (see below) announcing her displeasure. Gould explained that she is a parent of three children and like many families, struggles during these economic times. She appealed to the Board to consider the residents and not approve the salary increases and tax increase.
You know how sometimes you can just forecast what the result is going to be before a vote is actually taken – well, that is exactly how last night’s school board meeting went.
To their credit, Board members Liz Mercogliano and Scott Dorsey were the lone dissenting votes on the employee bonuses, salary increase to Art McDonnell and tax increase to the homeowners. Both explained that they could not support giving bonuses and salary increases when the District does not provide basic healthcare benefits for the aides and paraeducators. Although Mercogliano and Dorsey are outnumbered 7-2 by the other Board members in their votes, I appreciate that they are concerned about the effect on residents of another year of tax increases. Providing affordable health care to all District employees is important; I personally thank Liz and Scott for taking a stand on this issue and supporting the aides and paras.
School Board Vice President Kris Graham is chairing the superintendent search committee which also includes Board members Jim Bruce, Karen Cruickshank and Doug Carlson. In her update, Graham reported that over 1,000 T/E residents responded to the Stakeholder Survey and the results are available on the District’s website, www.tesd.org
According to the survey results, the top 5 traits chosen as the most important in a new superintendent are:
- Honest (54%)
- Student Centered (52%)
- Creative Problem Solver (49%)
- Approachable (37%)
- Collaborative (37%)
The survey results indicted the top 5 strengths that the new superintendent should be expected to maintain or enhance:
- Highly qualified staff (54%)
- High expectations for students (39%)
- Strong fiscal management (38%)
- Safe school environment (38%)
- Culture of continuous improvement (36%)
The top 5 most important qualifications of a new superintendent as selected by respondents:
- Leadership (74%)
- Budget & financial expertise (58%)
- Administrative/education leadership experience (49%)
- Educational experience (47%)
- Strategic planning expertise (36%) tie
- Significant classroom teaching experience (36%) tie
The final survey question, asked respondents to name the top 3 challenges facing the new superintendent:
- Budget/finance (83%)
- Government mandates (44%)
- District labor relations (36%)
My takeaway from the Stakeholder Survey is that the vast majority of respondents believe that finances is the most important issue and that it is important to have someone with leadership qualities and a business/financial background as the District’s next superintendent.
The School Board hired a consultant to help with the superintendent search and Graham explained last night that the she has conducted a couple of workshops with school board members in this regard. According to Graham, there are currently five District employees with the educational qualifications for the position and they have received an application from one person. The in-house superintendent candidate was unnamed by Graham but she did say that the Board would be conducting an interview in the next couple of days.
In the District’s online update of last night’s meeting the following information was provided on the superintendent search:
President Kevin Buraks and Vice President Kris Graham updated the public on the work of the Superintendent Appointment Committee and results from the Stakeholder Survey. The survey results are available on the District web site. The Board will continue to keep the public informed on the search process.
Although the message here is that the Board will “continue to keep the public informed on the search process”, there appeared to be something missing from this online information and from the Buraks and Graham update last night. There was no mention about where the District has posted the job for the superintendent position. I would be interested in know which educational resources the consultant suggested to the Board and where the job is posted. Also, what is the timeline for the District to receive applications?
The Superintendent position is the most important job in the Tredyffrin Easttown School District and I know that the Board, parents, residents, employees and students want to make certain that the information is available to all possible candidates.
Although some in the administration disagree that a morale issue exists, too many District employees would suggest otherwise. I will continue to maintain that the only way to fully correct the morale issues in the District is to hire someone from the outside – an individual with strong financial/budgetary experience (business experience and background) coupled with the educational component and someone that does not have an existing history with current employees is what is sorely needed. The new Superintendent should fully understand the District’s financial needs and not simply rely on the Business Manager for answers.
Because the current Superintendent is not retiring for 12 months (June 30, 2015), the Board has the luxury to conduct a thorough superintendent search and fully vet all candidates for the job. Once the job applications are received from outside the District, the Superintendent Search committee will be able to short list the candidates and then include the residents in their analysis prior to the final selection.
As discussed at last night’s meeting, informing the public of the Superintendent search process is important. I look forward to the Board’s continued updates on the application process and search to find a new TE School District Superintendent.