Question: To fence or not to fence at Valley Forge Middle School? Answer: No for Election Year, but 2016 is another story!

 

I attended the TE School District Facilities Meeting on Friday.   Thinking that the fencing at Valley Forge Middle School discussion would be put to bed finally, the audience learned instead that the never-ending saga would continue…

After months and months of legal bills on the District’s side (i.e. taxpayers) and on the part of the Chesterbrook Civic Association and Green Hills residents, the Board has decided the District needs another school safety study, which will focus on fencing at VFMS, before they can make a decision. After TESD President Kris Graham read her statement proposing the hiring of a safety consultant for the Valley Forge Middle School fencing project, other Board members embraced the suggestion.  What?

As background regarding the school safety study – In January 2013, the District hired Andy Chambers (the former Tredyffrin Township Police Chief) as the safety consultant to review the safety of the eight schools.  Initially Chambers’ hiring was included on a school board consent agenda.  Facing claims of Sunshine Act violation, the District solicitor Ken Roos recommended the ‘reconsideration’ of Chambers at the following Board meeting.  Ultimately, Chambers was hired with a 7-2 vote with former school board members Anne Crowley and Rich Brake citing ‘lack of transparency’ in their dissenting votes.   The public was told that Chambers contract was ‘not to exceed’ $11,500.

The Board has repeatedly cited the safety report as the rationale for building fences around the schools – it certainly provided the basis for why the five elementary schools were fenced last summer. The public was not provided input for the safety study and we were not permitted to see the safety study when completed (the Board cited safety reasons).   The District has denied right-to-know requests for the study.

The taxpayers paid for the District’s safety study two years ago, which claims to suggest that all District schools need to be fenced.  Why is the 2013 safety study not applicable for VFMS?

Now many, many meetings and legal and architectural fees later, the Board has decided that the District needs to spend more money for a new safety study – this study to focus specifically on Valley Forge Middle School fencing.  It should be noted that the Board was quick to mention that this time the District will send out an RFP to find a safety consultant (something they admit was not done before they hired Chambers).

I’m sorry but I just don’t understand.  Why is the District going to spend more money on the VFMS fencing project by hiring another safety consultant?  The uncertainty for the neighbors continues, as the Board was quick to say that when this new study comes out in early 2016, it may still require fencing VFMS. Here’s a question for the Board — why not have Police Superintendent Anthony Giaimo and the Tredyffrin police conduct the safety study for the District?  Certainly Giaimo’s background and experience would make him an excellent choice to review school safety.

Three school board candidates attended the Facilities Meeting (Fran Reardon, Easttown, Region 3 and Tredyffrin West, Region 2 candidates Michele Burger and Ed Sweeney).  For the two open school board seats in Tredyffrin West, Region 2, the Primary election results had Burger (D) and Sweeney (R) receiving the highest number of votes respectfully – with TESD Board President Kris Graham in third place. There’s little doubt that the ongoing VFMS fencing issues cost Graham votes.  I wonder if she thinks that by spending taxpayer dollars for another safety study and delaying the fencing project until 2016, will translate to a higher vote count in November.

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The District’s mega-million proposed Maintenance & Storage Building received much discussion at Friday’s Facilities Meeting.  This proposed maintenance building and the adoption of the 2015/16 Final Budget are scheduled for Priority Discussion at the school board meeting on Monday, June 15. Board discussion and public comment opportunity. 7:30 PM, Conestoga High School

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  1. Taxpayers should thank Governor Rendell for Act 1 and Governor Corbett for the reduced number of Exceptions. And those Exceptions for PSERS and Special Ed will be leveling off based on PSERS estimates and recent Special Ed expenses. We just need to watch for generous union contracts which will in turn increase later indexes.

    Otherwise there would be no spending restraint at the local level. As it is, though, the losers from the Board choices to favor increasing back-loaded debt for a $4.5 million total cost ($6.75 million with debt interest) non-core building at the expense of educational programs will be the students.

    For reference, the Board will also vote on Monday on Supervisor salaries, 21/average $81,620, and Admin salaries, 28/average $145,565, all before 1% bonus, 26% PSERS (13% net), $5K extra for the “District Safety Coordinator” and five other “administrative stipends”, cadillac healthcare plans, etc., etc., etc.

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  2. Why does TESD need to pay another consultant to do the work we pay district employees over top of the pay scale salaries to do? Why are there even board members if we hire outside consultants to do their jobs? Why won’t they listen and talk to tax payers who they were elected to serve? What a waste of money that could be used for educational services and programs that would actually benefit the students.

    I haven’t spoken or communicated with one resident who is in favor of the fencing or the $3-$5M maintenance building. I get e-mails from parents about the Maintenance building, not the fencing because I live in Easttown, but they are all strongly against this spending. Please, if there is one person out there who is in favor of these projects, contact Pattye for my e-mail address or phone number. I would like to sit down with you and respectfully discuss and consider your point of view and rationale for the massive spending on these projects.

    Neal, Ray, ex board members and others have demonstrated their expertise, interest and experience in analyzing and talking about financial matters. Why won’t the board listen to them? For free?

    I don’t understand it.

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  3. Here’s my safety study…and I’m not even a safety expert. 3 sided 5 foot fences keep no one out…just a huge waste of my tax money.

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  4. I’ve asked this question before? Has anyone seen the safety report written by Andy Chambers? I attended one safety committee meeting. No information was provided. The chair cited security reasons and said the committee meets behind closed doors because they don’t want people to have access to sensitive information they could use to gain access to the schools. Fine, but how does revealing the part about how fencing is tied to student safety giving up info that could potentially help bad guys plot against the school? And wasn’t it revealed that the fencing is really about marking the boundaries, and safety is being used as a front for that?

    Why does the school district, after all these years, around 50, right? want to mark the boundaries? What is the benefit to that? I really want to know, and as tax payers we have a right to know.

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  5. It is clear that the school board never understood the fencing recommendations (if there were any) included in the first safety study. Before wasting our money on consultants – why don’t they simply ask those who made the original recommendation what was intended, how it applies to VFMS, and what facts were these recommendations based on?
    Also ask the safety committee to review this new information and add their recommendations based on their expertise.

    This board is too quick to spend our money without thinking through the costs and benefits. Yes, we all want to protect our students but high security prisons can’t even keep the criminals inside.

    I am still upset that the board wasted several thousand dollars by sending lawyers and architects to Tredyffrin’s zoning board to request variances for 6ft fences. The lawyers couldn’t explain why TESD wanted 6ft fences – they couldn’t make the case for safety nor for marking territory. Ultimately they withdrew the waiver request.
    So we paid the Zoning fees, the lawyers, and architects — for what?

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  6. they hide the study because there probably isn’t one or it was financed by the fencing company. The fence around hillside elementary is a joke. The entrance is completely open.

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  7. While the VFMS fencing issue has been postponed the Old Lancster RD maintenance/storage building has not . The final vote will take place Monday night ..please if you have any thoughts or concerns email the board now !!!
    Shining ..some members of the board asked for written resident concerns at the Facility meeting …. I also asked them to visit this location before they vote..hopefully they will consider the neighbors.

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    Pattye Reply:

    It is interesting to note that there was no ‘vote’ taken at the Facilities Committee meeting to either (1) hire a safety consultant or (2) postpone a decision — it just seemed like the Board had agreed on the course BEFORE the meeting had started. Where’s the discussion/deliberation in public followed by a vote?

    For the folks of Old Lancaster Road, tomorrow’s Board vote on the maintenance & storage building, will affect them greatly — the size and scope of the construction project, increased storm water issues, traffic concerns, etc. etc. For the TESD taxpayers, the Board’s decision to move forward with the project, will mean millions of dollars.

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    Pattye Reply:

    To contact the school board regarding the maintenance & storage building (or any other TESD issue), the email is: schoolboard@tesd.net

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    Shining Light Reply:

    I have long suspected that decisions on issues are made before committee meetings commence.

    I get the feeling that committee meetings and the citizens who attend them are considered nothing more than unwanted inconveniences to a process where decisions are really made behind closed doors. Citizen comments often treated as unwelcome, unworthy intrusions to the board who ask little to no questions to the Admin. and do everything they can to stay isolated from the citizenry itself.

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  8. I’m sorry that my first comment launched right into the maintenance building without first recognizing the absurdity of the latest flailing over fences in the Kris Graham re-election campaign. Pattye’s post and all the comments here are right on.

    Here’s an “equalized mills” statistic from today’s paper. In the last five years, the tax bill for the median-priced home in T/E has increased by $706, and that ranks us #3 highest among all 53 suburban Philadelphia school districts. We don’t hear the Board touting that ranking! The only consolation is that we’re not Lower Merion, at $1,030.

    Of course there are forces like PSERS “outside our control”, but how about doing something about the things like new Admin hire salaries, fences, maintenance buildings and unnecessary debt that are within our control? Those could be/have been addressed right now, while also laying the groundwork with the long term planning needed to manage contracted expenses.

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    Ray Clarke Reply:

    And while the Board is in consultant mode for a $100,000 fence, maybe they should hire one where independent expertise is actually needed: to analyze a $4.5 million non-core investment. Is that really the most prudent expenditure of taxpayer dollars?

    What is the full gamut of alternatives – starting from the business model for all support operations, all the way through to all the build/buy/lease alternatives (including analysis of all possible options for district-owned properties). Costs, benefits. I’d swap out the fence investment for that study in a heartbeat.

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    Pattye Reply:

    Yes, a maintenance building consultant to review all 2015 options for the District. According to the Facilities Committee, all options were explored and Old Lancaster Road was found to be the best option. My thought would be that this exploration probably occurred 4 or 5 years ago and perhaps options have changed in the interim.

    At the Finance Committee meeting, Michele Burger made an excellent suggestion of the old Volvo dealership on Lancaster Ave. as a possibility. Unfortunately, it was immediately dismissed, with a statement that it would cost $3.5 million to retrofit the building. I’m not sure where that number came from, but it would seem to me a car dealership would have plenty of parking, interior office and work space, including garage areas. In fact, it sounded like a great idea — at least, worth looking into. According to some who are actively involved in commercial/warehouse real estate, there appears to be multiple opportunities to lease space for considerably less money.

    I just hate the idea of this large brick building going in on Old Lancaster Rd, really out of proportion for the neighborhood! The neighbors across the street are below grade of this proposed building and already have stormwater issues — and that’s before construction begins. Just seems that there has to be a better alternative and one that doesn’t cost $4 or $5 million.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    We don’t need a consultant. Just a little common sense. When taxes are raised 3.81% for 10 years, you don’t spend $3 to $5 million on a maintenance building. Especially when student programs have been cut, parents are asked for out of pocket donations constantly and students suffer with old worn out equipment and uniforms.

    I don’t predict that any tax paying parent will be angry if this maintenance building project is nixed.

    Ray, Sorry to just talk about the maintenance. I pass the cite for the new Maintenance Building and the Network Operations Center 2,3 or sometimes 4 times a day. I have pulled into both locations and talked to Maintenance Supervisors and Staff about both the new plans for the Maintenance building and the $1M to $3.3M (depending on who you talk to) renovation to the old High School Building (NOC) on the corner of Howellville and Conestoga Rds. I will talk about that if asked. So the issue is closer to me than the fencing, but I agree with you about the fencing too, I just don’t know as much about it.

    We have spent MILLIONS on renovations for a building that houses IT, we are proposing to spend MILLIONS on a building for supplies. How are these expenditures related to student achievement? Spend the money on the kids!

    I don’t understand it.

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    I keep thinking of dimensions to this spending trainwreck. The Board/Admin bemoan the unsuitability of the 15 acres in Chesterbrook (where so many kids are in the first place – walk to school….) for a school and so have to keep the 3 acres + 5 acre playing fields at the old ESC instead. Which is weird in the first place.

    But anyway, the issue with the `15 acres is apparently the one road access. So, what would it take to put a road from Bradford Lane – just 800 feet through the common area. Looks from the County map (http://mapservices.chesco.org/chescoviews/Splash.aspx) that a road would be above the flood plain.

    Has anyone investigated this? Is anyone on the Board questioning the received wisdom? Or does someone have the accelerator all the way to the floor heading for the Frankford Curve?

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    Neal Colligan Reply:

    T/E also leads Chester County in annual tax increase this year per the Ikny. Not sure the chart was in “equalized mills”…just actual dollars….the better comparative statistic. AND still a deficit budget…can’t make this stuff up!!

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  9. I’ve just sent a letter to the board asking that they VISIT the site on Old Lancaster Rd.before they take a vote. If anyone had seen the “paintings” presented by Daley & Jalboot you’d think we live on a huge tree lined boulevard. The reality of it (aside from the huge cost to the taxpayers) concerns with storm water, parking & traffic issues ,STUDENT & pedestrian safety ..11 months of demo & construction and if our homes or property will be damaged from this. Its a 24/4 WORK YARD ..in a residential neighborhood..NOT A PARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  10. My name is Ed Sweeney and I am a candidate for Region 2 School Board. I have been invited to post my views by Pattye on her blog concerning the conclusion the SB apparently reached in light of my attendance at the Facilities Committee meeting. I thank her for the invitation. I note as I went door to door this weekend, people complimented her blog “Community Matters” as being the only way they could find out about local issues.

    I post now because of the important discussion coming up on Monday night with the full school board. The forum where I typically disseminate my viewpoints is my own web site on facebook and would invite each community member to review my ongoing facebook page: EdSweeney4TE. My hope is that between going door to door and posting regularly on my page you can learn about me and my views.

    The fence issue is a non-partisan one which the public feels very strongly about. Region 2 does not like the fences. Non-affiliated voters feel as strongly as members of both political parties. People seemed this weekend in my door to door canvassing to be disappointed in the expert solution as delaying something where obviously by topography fences are not appropriate. They wanted an equitable solution.

    The Facilities Committee meeting, although it did not appear a vote was taken, reached a consensus among the 8 School Board members present to further study the VFMS fence issue by hiring an expert. In essence, the “RESET” button was pressed. Each Board member spoke and (if I recall correctly) was in favor of further study. If on the Board, I would be similarly concerned about safety and that I was not an expert. The process envisioned was explained as delaying resolution of the issue to a not precisely defined time in the future. I question whether hitting the “RESET” button is a good course.

    In my opinion, the better way of handling any safety concerns is to refer the matter to the essential stakeholder in safety in Tredyffrin Township, the Tredyffrin Police Department. Pattye and I have reached this conclusion independently as I am sure many have. Such buy-in from the essential stakeholder is not only quick and efficient, but free. It is also exceedingly prudent, as the Tredyffrin Police will be the First Responders in case of a safety issue. Superintendent Giaimo is known as a person who devises Rapid Response plans and I can see no reason why safety is not best served by consulting the current Tredyffrin Police on their current views. Safety is not decided in a vacuum, but rests on the input, and ultimately the actions, of stakeholders. The Superintendent should be asked to give his list of priorities for safety in confidence and to provide views on the fence issue and the proposed compromise.

    This should put to bed an important issue and hopefully we can start talking about increasing academic achievement, the need for local control of education, the problems created by the Keystone Examinations, and whether Governor Wolf’s tax proposals will help or hurt Tredyffrin residents and schools. These are crucial discussions to have in an election year and will affect how the Board leads and governs in the next four years.

    Safety of our children must be of paramount concern. We want to protect against tragedy. The School Board should not be faulted for having this goal. However, timing is everything in government and politics. There were significant discussions with CCA leadership leading up to Friday’s meeting to affect a compromise both before and after the election. The compromise seemed reasonable and safe, and some have said, was not as favorable as it could be to those who oppose fences. Public confidence is increased when public bodies are ready to have discussions and are ready to act on them. As someone who has served for years on the Planning Commission, and has been involved in politics, I have learned that process matters.

    The net effect of Friday’s vote may be to postpone any decisions until a new Board comes in and possibly to make process an issue as time goes on. The focus of our discussions over the next 8 months should not be on how to structure a fair procedure for assuring an unbiased consultant, the membership on committees to study safety, etc. This would be counterproductive and divisive.

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    Pattye Reply:

    It’s important for the public to know (and understand) the positions of school board candidates on the many important issues facing the school district — school fencing, maintenance & storage building, employee outsourcing, tax increases, etc. Thank you Ed for providing your position on school fencing and the proposed hiring of safety consultant! I would encourage other school board candidates to likewise contribute their thoughts/positions on this issue and other issues.

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  11. Ray,

    Could you write more about the Board vote on Supervisor salaries, What supervisors? And Admin Salaries, The District Safety Coordinator (who is that? What do they do?) What are the five other “administrative stipends” What does that mean?

    Did the Board “sit down” with Administrators to discuss their pay? Did they come to new “agreements?” Was this discussed in Committee? If so, which one? I know these decisions have been made and all of this will be passed tomorrow night. I just want to know how much it is.

    I know from talking to a Board Member that it does no good to come to a Board meeting to discuss issues that will be voted on. By the time it gets to a Board Meeting, votes are taken on decisions that have already been made. Board Meetings are 100% orchestrated.

    The only reason to go would be to make your statement in the public comment time permitted so your views can be broadcast on T.V. because the Board does not care and is not listening. They already know how they will vote regardless of what citizen says or how many say it.

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    Ray Clarke Reply:

    I’m glad you asked the question, SL. Supervisors include folks like the new Controller, Colm Kelly who runs maintenance, and other names I don’t recognize but who are clearly responsible for managing support operations.

    Both Supervisors and Admin have similar agreements, the former expiring at the end of the next year, the latter on June 30, 2017. Both call for annual 1.7% increases for the group as a whole and 1% bonuses. The increase is supposed to be divided according to performance, and I guess the Board has to approve the allocation.

    So, I took a look at the increases. The admin folks are pretty much the same as last year. ONLY ONE HAS A 1.7% INCREASE, THE REST ARE HIGHER. Typically plus 3-5%, but more of course for those with new responsibilities. There has been a fair amount of turnover in the Supervisory group, but for those with tenure over 1 year, ONLY ONE HAS A 1.7% INCREASE, THE REST ARE HIGHER, typically plus 4%.

    This is on an agenda item at the very end of tomorrow’s meeting that allows for public comment, and I’m sure the Board has already asked the hard questions and be ready to explain this…. “Market forces” or something like that, I expect.

    As for the “Administrative Stipends” of $5,056, as well as district Safety Coordinator (Cataldi, $160,000), there is an “Enrollment Coordinator (Towle, $160,000), “Elementary Coordinator” (Cohle, $158,381), and so on. See page 331/332 of tomorrow’s Agenda.

    Your comments about the Board meeting process are right on. I do suggest that anyone with any hope of getting a point across make that point via email to SchoolBoard@tesd.net. At least you know that won’t get lost in translation.

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  12. This past year and 3 years before, I had kids at TE Middle and Conestoga High School. I drove them to school. The traffic on Old Lancaster is horrific, it backs up for 10 to 15 minutes some days when trying to turn left onto Irish Road to drop off at the High School. When you factor in trash trucks (why do trash companies schedule trash pick up in a neighborhood with a High school and a middle school right next door to each other at the exact same time school starts.) It is stressful for the drivers trying to get to the schools to drop off and it has to be stressful for the guys trying to do their jobs with 20 to 30 backed up behind them.

    CHV is right. Old Lancaster is not a tree lined Blvd. It’s a too narrow street now barely able to satisfy the cars coming through every single morning to drop off at the high school, much less the middle school too. Some mornings it takes 10 to 20 minutes to get from the high school to the middle school which are yards away from each other . I can’t imagine what the impact of constructing the new Maintenance Building will bring on this already overloaded situation.

    CHV says he/she asked the Board members to visit the site on Old Lancaster Rd. before casting their votes. I ask the Board Members to visit the site between 7 and 8 in the morning, (ideally next year when all students are in school) to get a view of the mess that already is. And remember, seniors are gone, so the traffic won’t be nearly as bad as when you add an entire class (400+ students) to the equation.

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  13. http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2015/06/12/main_line_times/news/doc557ad0a4edb21415284655.txt?viewmode=fullstory

    An article in the MainLineMediaNews,talking about LMSD,their budget nearing a QUARTER of a BILLION DOLLARS and a contract they just signed with Ken Roos, solicitor in their district as well as TE and Radnor.

    The board also approved the latest contract with Kenneth A. Roos of the law firm Wisler Pearlstine to continue on as the school district solicitor.

    Details of the contract between the district and Wisler Pearlstine were outlined in a memorandum as part of the agenda for Monday night’s meeting.

    The fee for the basic services remains at $12,120 per year that is to be paid in monthly installments of $1,010. This basic service includes attending one business meeting per month and conferring with and advising the board and administration on routine — less than two hours — of legal questions and non-litigation issues.

    The contract also lists a fee of $180 for other basic legal services at $180 per hour when firm partners are doing the work and $160 per hour for work done by senior education law attorneys.

    “Because we value our relationship with the District so highly, it is important to us that the District consistently feel it is receiving quality service in return for this compensation. Therefore, if at any time you believe a charge on any of our bills appears disproportionately high in relation to the services rendered, please feel free to call me for an explanation, or, if you prefer, simply strike the charge and not pay that portion of the bill,” according to a portion of the memorandum.

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    Ken gets over $1,000 a month for ONE MEETING AND LESS THAN 2 HOURS OF WORK. hours of work. Ken is the lawyer who advised the Board when a group of citizens filed an appeal With the PA Office of Open Records. The few times I have seen him at Board Meetings and Committee meetings, he bullys and intimidates citizens when they speak.
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    http://pattyebenson.org/2015/05/17/neal-colligan-vs-tredyffrin-easttown-school-district-in-right-to-know-case-follow-up/

    If you recall, Colligan’s appeal stemmed from the District’s denial in his right-to-know request regarding the five closed meetings of the TE School Board between November 2014 – January 2015, concerning the Affordable
    Care Act and the employment changes of the District’s aides and paraeducators.

    As a result of the OOR findings, the District was required to provide all requested Affordable Care Act records from the secret Executive Sessions withing 30 days.
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    The School District paid Ken to work against citizens trying to get basic information relating to school district matters.

    I have often wondered what we pay Ken for his services. If it’s anything like LM, which I have no reason to believe it isn’t, now I know.

    Add this to the long list of where tax payer funded money goes. Again, how is this tied to student achievement?

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    Pattye Reply:

    Lower Merion School District’s contract with Roos contains a monthly ‘basic service’ rate which includes attendance at meeting and 2 hours of legal advice per month. Also, included in the memorandum with LMSC, “if at any time you believe a charge on any of our bills appears disproportionately high in relation to the services rendered, please feel free to call me for an explanation, or, if you prefer, simply strike the charge and not pay that portion of the bill.” TE School District does not get the same consideration with Roos’ as Lower Merion. Here’s the wording from tonight’s consent agenda —

    Action Under Consideration: That the Board of School Directors reappoints Kenneth A.
    Roos, of the firm Wisler, Pearlstein & Talone, as District solicitor for the term of July 1,
    2015 through June 30, 2016 at $180.00 per hour for partners and senior education law
    attorneys, $160.00 per hour for other associate attorneys, $110.00 per hour for education
    specialist attorneys, $100.00 per hour for assessment specialist attorneys, and $90.00 per
    hour for paralegal services.

    Guess Roos doesn’t consider LM and TE as comparing apples to oranges.

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    CJ of the Main Line Reply:

    given my experience with retained lawyers and hourly lawyers, this does not seem very high. Many lawyers are $280-350/hr. The one business meeting a month probably includes the executive session. So a long meeting + executive session could be 5+ hours.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    I thought the same thing. The one business meeting a month MIGHT include executive session that could last hours but who knows? And you would have to file a RTK with Art McDonnell to find out the information and Art either doesn’t answer simple e-mail requests for basic information or he postpones a RTK request the legal time limit and denying your quest for basic information. His responses are offensively impolite, immature and unprofessional. He spells requester names wrong and sends his denial responses to wrong e-mail addresses. The Board sits silently by watching this, allowing it, as evidenced by their inaction. Art makes as much or more money than the highest paid governor in the country. Last year,he stood before the board and asked for a $22,000 a year raise and a 5 year contract and got it, no questions asked. Did Art receive a raise and bonus last night? Was that approved? I think ex-governor Corbit should apply for a job in the TESD. He wouldn’t even have to be Supt.to make more money than he did when he was governor.

    But we’re talking about lawyers, not Art. There is a glut of lawyers in this country and has been for awhile. We could get a solicitor, a good one, a smart one, one who doesn’t make citizens voices quiver when they dare to stand up and voice their opinions, for a fraction of the cost.

  14. Thanks Ed for posting your views here. Yes, the safety of our children is key. But, according to the American Society for Industrial Security, a heavy gauge chain-link fence with barbed wire atop will delay an intruder for just 4 seconds. (Note, that is with barbed wire.)

    I believe that a chain link fence around the outskirts of our school properties may actually DECREASE the safety of our children. It will limit egress in times of emergency. It will force students to walk or run along the fence line to find an open exit, which could make them even easier targets for a bully or a stalker. Small school children will have trouble getting over it in times of emergency. … The unintended consequences of fencing in the schools may come back to haunt us in the future.

    Given today’s technology, there are other modes of perimeter security. So, hopefully the TESD will not hire a fencing expert to do the study!

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    Will Reply:

    Totally agree. This fencing was a cash grab for the installer. They won’t release the study because there probably wasn’t one.

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  15. I urge everyone to please go look at the fence at Hillside elementary. How, could anyone think this was a good idea and help with safety? It is, a complete joke!

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  16. The overwhelming majority of TESD residence are completely against fencing VFMS for a number of reasons (neighborhood esthetics, property values, education priorities, etc.). The only case for it is perimeter security. Well NEWS FLASH, I do not have to be a consultant to know a 4 foot fence will not stop anyone committed to doing harm. It’s a FARCE!!
    Yet the board continues down this path to spend money in its pursuit to have it implemented. Fencing the VFMS is a complete waste of tax payers’ money…$15K+ on consulting for a proposed ~$0.5M fence which by the way, would not even deter deer from the premises. There is no mitigation of risks here. When would the Board realize this, cut their/our losses, consider what they’ve spent sunk cost, and STOP throwing Good money after Bad?!!
    If this unwanted fencing is implemented, it would not be long before there is a referendum calling for both its and the members of the Board removal.
    You, the TESD Board Members are the stewards of our (the TESD taxpayers) scarce tax dollars. LISTEN to the community you’ve been asked to serve. I have been delinquent by not being involved in SD matters, however, you have awaken a voter with this matter.
    This spending that can be better served improving school curriculum and/or improved electronic security surveillance.

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    Pattye Reply:

    There was a public meeting last night at VFMS with the safety/fencing consultants, school board and citizens. I’m wondering did you attend this meeting and are you commenting as a result? The meeting was scheduled so that the public could provide input to the consultants re the VFMS fencing. Tomorrow, the consultants will make a preliminary report at the TESD Facilities Meeting.

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  17. Its not just Hillside, look at the other schools that have fencing put up. Has any member of the board actually looked at the school properties? To say that the fencing is being used as a security measure and then only have the fencing going around 3 quarters of the property, is ridiculous!!! Devon has the whole front of the school wide open. You could drive a car from the road in front of the school to the back playground area, and never even go over a bump. How can that be considered secure! The fences were put up around the other schools without much public outcry. I think its funny that so much effort is being put into keeping the fence from going up around Valley Forge. Good for the Chesterbrook residents raising there voices. If they can keep one more waste of money from happening, then it was worth it…

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