TE School District Taxpayers in the Dark

I received the following press release Sunday morning from a Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) representative.

Tredyffrin/Easttown Education Association (TEEA) to Hold Informational Picket before September 25th School Board Meeting

What: Teachers and educators of the Tredyffrin/Easttown Education Association (TEEA) are holding an Informational Picket before the next School Board meeting to protest their lack of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The CBA expired, June 30, 2017 and both parties met one time over the entire summer. The membership is frustrated by the lack of progress in one of Pennsylvania’s premier school districts. Conestoga High Schools was recently ranked the best high school in all of Pennsylvania.

Who: Hundreds of Teachers, Parents and Educational staff of TESD School District.
Visual Highlights: Teachers will assemble prior to the School Board meeting, holding signs and marching and chanting for a new contract. Community members and families are invited.

When: Monday, September 25, 6:30 p.m. (Assemble) | 7:30 p.m. (meeting)

Where: Conestoga High School (200 Irish Rd, Berwyn, PA 19312)

Statement by TEEA President, Dr. Bob DeSipio:
“Our contract expired on July 1, 2017. Despite multiple offerings to meet with the School Board this summer to continue the negotiations process, we did not meet until the end of August. We want the School Board to know that it is not just the five or six of us on the bargaining team that are upset with the slow pace of these negotiations, but a membership of more than 400 highly educated and highly dedicated educators. We hope tonight’s Board meeting is a demonstration to the District that TEEA is resolute in our dedication to achieve a new agreement and want to reach a fair and competitive settlement as quickly as possible.”

Dr. DeSipio’s statement is confusing and unsettling – although the teachers’ contract expired June 30, 2017, the District held no negotiating meetings during the summer!  No contract negotiation meetings between the District and the teachers union “until the end of August”!  This makes no sense.

It is impossible for the community “to take a side” in the contract negotiation battle between the school district and the teachers union. Why? Because the taxpayers have received no information from either side about the offers/demands.

The teachers are asking for a “fair and competitive settlement” … wish I knew the offer on the table. The public cannot possibly know what is “fair” without knowing the contents of the offer.

The secret negotiations between the District and the teachers union once again underscore the need for transparency.

Getting the state union officials from PSEA involved, the T/E teachers will show solidarity with signs, marching and chanting on Monday night before the school board meeting.  Working without a settled contract is difficult but isn’t this “informational picket” apt to make the contract negotiation situation more contentious?

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29 Comments

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  1. Pattye,
    Check with your teacher friends about what they know about negotiations. My guess is that they are also in the dark and have no idea what is on the table from either side. At best they have a verbal update from the union leadership that is mostly about how the district negotiators are just bad people. “They won’t meet with us.” “They don’t value us.” “The offer from the district is insulting”. It’s all about solidarity.

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  2. Why do gym teachers need masters’ degrees? Why are they paid much more after receiving these unnecessary degrees? Why should taxpayers pay in any form for these gym teachers to get these degrees? Why, when teachers are the oldest, are they paid the most, therefore delaying retirement years while they are cashing out and preventing new teachers from entering the ranks at a lower cost? Why does the average teacher make more than the median income in our district for only 9 months of work. Why do some mediocre social studies teachers make $60K> as a teacher. Teaching is commonly perceived as a sacrifice, not a way to rob the taxpayers’ blind. Why were teachers so poor at communicating to students that they were no longer representing student club organizations? Why does the TEEA make such shoddy marketing materials without publicizing their demands beyond a “fair contract”.

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    Healthy Parent Reply:

    Travis,
    Clearly, you have never ever worked in education. Do you have any clue what our Physical Education teachers see and work with on a daily basis? They observe the future of our nation becoming more and more sick and overweight every single day. They pour their hearts and souls into encouraging kids to take care of themselves. Many parents are unable to motivate their kids to be healthy. They are mentors, highly respected coaches, and inspire children to lead healthy lives. My child’s health is priceless. I hope you feel the same way about your child’s health. Have you ever single handely coached or taught a classroom full of 22-30 children with all different physical capabilities? Many of our Physical Education teachers are teaching 6-7 classes per day, and then coaching our children after school. Are you aware that many children (especially elementary students) are kinesthetic learners and NEED movement in order to LEARN? Or that our Physical Education teachers coach and inspire young people in a sport to work to their absolute highest potential? Many sports could provide opportunities for college. With childhood obesity and child diabetes increasing at record breaking pace, our Physical Education teachers should all have doctorate degrees and are more important now than ever. Without health, what chance do our children have for a prosperous future? Physical Education provides our kids with the awareness of this ongoing crisis and saves lives. Shame on you. Health and Physical Education is the best investment we could make for our children and nation if we ever hope to positively improve our healthcare (or should I say – SICKcare) crisis.

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    Travis Scott Sr. Reply:

    Geez, someone always got picked last…

    Good thing today’s Physical Education teachers don’t pick captains anymore. They must have learned to stop doing that so they don’t create angry, bitter people in the future. They probably even learned that from a graduate class.

    My child’s health is everything to me. My child listens to and is inspired by his teachers, and if even just one of his Health and PE teachers motivates him to get off the couch each day, then I say get our teachers all Doctorate degrees in their subject!

    Health and Physical Education classes are the best investment we could make for our children. I would rather pay our Health and PE teachers HANDSOMELY then pay for the outrageous healthcare costs in the future. Think a little more upstream son… how do we PREVENT our children from getting sick in the future? Oh yea… inspire them to be healthy now and throughout their lifetime.

    “Health the first and greatest of ALL blessings.” – Lord Chesterfield

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  3. I am a single parent living in T-E, raising two kids on my own and barely making ends meet. I am starting to feel the pressure to support the teachers. We are being encouraged to write letters of support to the school board. Its not fair that we are supposed to blindly support the teachers without knowing their demands. As a personal protest, I will not show up at the high school tomorrow night.

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  4. I agree that the truth about salary, health benefits, pension, disability, eye and dental care should be front and center on easy to read handouts.
    There should be lists of 400 teachers, administration and other salaries posted on the picket signs.
    The time to vest , holidays, sick time and other perks should be written and posted.
    I also need the truth on the alleged teachers (those who turned a blind eye” named in the pedophile case. Are they teaching?
    Were they reprimanded by the State licensure like Sandusky and Penn State administrators? Who is watching the students?

    Please tell the community what poor working conditions, lack of health care or unfair pay that you are experiencing.
    What do you want?
    How much of a raise? How much of a deductible will you pay? How much premium share?
    Put it on your signs. This is not a marketing game. Be up front teach the students how to negotiate a fair deal with real information.
    Or strike.

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  5. The marketing plan to do an informational picket to get community support does encourage an atmosphere of contention.
    Should the community picket?
    It would be more helpful to share the information at a peaceful public school auditorium setting with ground rules of civility.
    Present the evidence. Let people understand what you want specifically in numbers per an actual budget.
    Or strike peacefully to demonstrate your rights to free speech and your rights to collective bargaining.
    Explain the process.

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  6. These comments so far are unbelievably negative towards the teachers and make no sense. Why is an ‘informational picket’, a fundamental 1st amendment right, bound to make the negotiations more contentious? Why no criticism of the District for expecting the teachers to work without a contract? Would T/E be the number one school district in PA without excellent teachers? Would most of you work without a contract? And, what job doesn’t pay it’s older and more experienced workers more? The T/E teachers are shaping our children’s lives, preparing them for a world that’s getting more complicated by the minute, and, showing up for work because they care and are dedicated to their profession. Yes, there should be more transparency especially since the school board is elected. To automatically blame the teachers without having all the facts is absurd. Let’s show our teachers the same respect they show our children by turning up to teach each day, contract or no contract!

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    Pattye Reply:

    My issue is NOT with the teachers anymore than it is with the District. The public is clueless as to what BOTH sides are expecting and/or offering and therefore one cannot make an informed decision. During the last teacher negotiation cycle, updates on the contract and the demands/ offers were presented to the public from BOTH sides.

    How about the negotiating parties work to make the process transparent for the public – posting the bargaining framework, their proposals and counter-proposals on the TESD website, as they become available.

    Again, my criticism is equally placed between the District and TEEA — we have no information and therefore cannot know whether the offer is “fair” or “unfair”. If you have that information, it would be useful if it was shared. The public is in the dark.

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    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Judy,
    Actually the teacher do have a contract. During the time period when the old contract expired and the new contract is approved the teachers, by law, are working to the terms of the old contract. This is called the status quo. They get the same pay as last year, the same benefits and the same job protection. To many, this would not be described as a sacrifice for the good of the children.

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    Ray Clarke Reply:

    Keith’s commentary is spot on, as usual. Many would be delighted with the kind of contract that is currently in place.

    Also, how many employees actually have employment contracts? I for one never had one in my entire career. Illustrates the sense of entitlement that comes across from the teachers. But: maybe they are going to hand out useful information at the informational picket?

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    Kristen Houghton Reply:

    I agree with Judy that the teachers are being piled onto in these comments. I have no idea where I stand in this debacle because I have no idea what either side is asking for, but it seems like so many people already do. Keith, you waste no time nullifying every single positive comment in favor of the teachers. Just wondering why. Googling you leads to tons of articles about how you advocated strongly against teachers and their healthcare in UCF when you sat on the school board. You’re described as “an advocate for reduced public school funding.” I just think it’s fair that other people know that, since your opinion is clearly biased and fairly one-note. Which is understandable. But you give your opinion so frequently to districts outside your own in any space possible. Just curious – what precisely motivates you to publicly speak against teachers you do not know and whose district you are not a part of?

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    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Kristen,
    Many posters try to make the conversation about me through ad hominem attacks. Some are subtle like yours mentioning “advocate for reduced public school funding” and “biased and fairly one-note”. Other are more direct. I’d prefer that you attack the message rather than the messenger. Please be specific and tell us what you think is in error about what I have posted. I have no problem with a spirited debate. What is your opinion?

    Liz Mercogliano Reply:

    Once a new contract is signed, I believe the teachers and certified nurses will be made whole with back pay covering the current school year. No loss for teachers and certified nurses? Anyone up on this?

    I support collective bargaining and fair pay with reasonable contract terms. I believe that will happen as it has in the past. If the teachers and nurses have not received reasonable salaries and benefits, would they not change career or change employers? This is a coveted job and I think both sides will work it out, go to strike or binding arbitration.

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  7. Before mounting your moral high horse, I recommend all of you checking out openpa.gov. Look at the actual salaries teachers are making, and ask yourself is it sustainable to have a top heavy matrix for years to come. There is no argument that would suggest to me that a 20th year social studies teacher who has had two supplementary degrees paid for by the school is 50k more valuable than the third year, passionate teacher. The Median classroom teacher salary is well over the Tredyffrin Township median income for 9 months of work plus benefits. It is clearly time for austerity measures. The number of teachers making $60 an hour will astound you, which does not factor in healthcare, tuition reimbursement, almost guaranteed job security, and payments to a retirement fund. Before nodding in bovine agreement that the teachers are getting shafted, I implore you to look at the data.

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  8. I support the students.

    I also support the teachers.

    I also support the administration.

    I do not support the path this is heading down – it already feels contentious and we ARE putting the kids in the middle. I would like to put both the administration and the union in the same room and admonish them to STOP this p!ssing match and get on with it. Already, with teachers resigning as advisers, clubs are behind where they should be. For many kids, who don’t play sports or into music, that is harmful – they need those extra curriculars.

    Before I am willing to blindly support the union, I would like to know what exactly they are asking for!

    => A 2% raise? Of course, give it to them now.
    => A 20% raise? Heck no.

    Since the union is being vocal in the community (letters to the editor, picket meetings, etc.), they should take the lead and share what they have asked for. Is it affordable or egregious?

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    Pattye Reply:

    Completely agree. If either the school district or the union would step up and give public information, it would force the other side to do likewise. Instead of racing to the bottom with the situation — one of the sides should take the high road and communicate the information directly to the public. I just don’t understand how we are expected to blindly support without the details — teachers would never expect that of their students.

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    Liz Mercogliano Reply:

    Dear union,
    Please share your demands.

    Dear administration and board,
    Please share your demands.

    Obviously, the fact finding will end up in a non binding arbitration like
    Methacton. Taxpayers will pay for the lawyers.

    Skip the parade, tell the public, do a survey. Please show us the costs in detail. You could even do a open public comment period before the contract is sign, sealed and delivered!

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  9. All great healthy living points. I am sure gym teachers must participate in individual education plans for those differently able students.

    Exercise, diet and education are extremely important. In addition offering healthy nutrition in the cafeteria helps give kids healthy choices. Likewise, the family, culture, economics, medical conditions, medication and genes play a role in teaching healthy students.

    There should always be continuing education in all fields of work and life
    The question becomes who pays for what degrees or continuing ed. Is it the employer or individual? The next question becomes does one need to teach or raise children to have a conversation?

    If a person struggles with understanding or teaching 20 students, we should assist them in a civil manner. We can converse in a positive manner. It is not simply degrees nor experience teaching that helps students learn about healthy living. There is a passion to teach and patience to share the process. Be kind.

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  10. I appreciate your appreciation for healthy kids. I share your sentiment.
    There are of course many different kids with many different diagnosis approved by the State in Our schools. Although some kids have pre-existing diseases or conditions, every effort should be taken to meet each kid where they are and work towards health and management of early childhood diseases like autism, epilepsy, diabetes, serious allergies and the many other diseases. Thanks for caring about kids.

    I had a son with open heart surgery and a daughter with severe scoliosis corrected by titanium implants from her neck to her waist. I do believe it is the primary responsibility of the legal parents to take care of their child’s health along with school and other outside activities. I also think older kids can choose what activity or life long activity works for them.

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  11. With the newest rankings in the state of PA we’re #1.

    In order to keep achieving such great rankings, it starts with why people move here. Our home values are stable and increasing.
    Our economy is growing. Just look at Gateway or any of the nice places to eat, shop along route 30. We also have just about anything you want. Public transportation, a short jaunt to the airport or city and the very best schools in PA.

    My understanding is, the teachers aren’t asking for much.
    They aren’t even sure where they stand because nobody wants to reach out to them.
    They just want a fair contract. Simple. Why is it so hard to get them one.
    We work the polls for our friends in the community to be elected to the school board. Yet once there they sure get quiet.

    Maybe you don’t have kids or your kids are no longer in the school system. Your school district’s ranking is something that draws people here.
    Happy wife = happy life? Ever hear that?

    I think if your teachers are well respected they will want to continue to support our children to the success after graduation.

    It starts from day number one until the day they can say they are a Conestoga graduate. Who inspired them? Look at the teachers they invite on that day to graduation.
    Was it a coach, an elementary teacher who took the time to talk to them at recess? Or was it the middle school teacher who spent an hour responding to parents emails?
    Perhaps it was the studio art teacher who pushed your child out of a comfort zone? The school plays? The music programs? Or perhaps the students who are over achievers.
    We are the best because we expect it. Now show it by supporting our teachers. Or they will go somewhere else and sooner or later that district will pass us by. Your home values will tank and we won’t be inspiring the future.

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    Pattye Reply:

    The longer that the public is kept in the dark about the status of the contract, the more difficult it becomes. All we are told is that the teachers want a ‘fair’ contract — what does ‘fair’ mean? Either the school board, the teachers or BOTH sides, need to provides us with more information so that we can make an informed decision. What exactly is ‘fair’ versus ‘unfair’ as it relates to this contract is unknown to the public.

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    CHS PARENT Reply:

    You write like you’re more than a loyal tax payer. You write like you’re a teacher.

    To answer your questions, no I don’t hear students talk about inspirational teachers. If anything, the opposite.

    The art and drama teachers you speak of are highly paid, especially the drama teacher and they are both named in the law suit. They watched, aided and abetted while a 15 year old child under their care and watch was abused by a 67 year old predator they call a friend.

    The issues are not supposed to be about home values and rankings and the economy. It’s supposed to be about the care, well being and development of our children.

    You and the teachers have made it about yourselves. Our community will not crumble if theses teachers leave. Our home values will not fall and Gateway will be there in all its glory serving up StarBuck after StarBuck coffee for all those waiting in line.

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  12. If you look at the past, you will find that the heads of many teachers’ unions across the state don’t provide full, or sometimes even correct, information to their own members as the bargaining process is underway. Why would you expect they would do this with the public. The “protest” as the SB meeting this week, the posters, etc. — all are propaganda to try and sway public opinion while both the TEEA and district are still in fact finding. TEEA leaders will never play fair (it’s not their job) and never be honest with the public. For example: when a teachers’ union says they have taken a 0% increase, it’s a lie. They conveniently leave out step increases…which is REAL money and a REAL raise. As far as I’m concerned the Board should continue to not layout its cards in a fight against an opponent whose only goal is financial gain.

    NOTE: this is the union heads / teachers’ union way of operating. No one should paint all the teachers with this brush; many don’t agree with their union’s tactics.

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    Teachers are millionares Reply:

    Spot on from the west. Teaches are millionares due to their pensions and they want to leave that component out of the bargaining too! GE and other companies went bankrupt due to employee pension payouts, bankrupt! They already make more in salary than taxpayers, they get better healthcare they pay little for and they retire as millionares due to pensions we pay for but don’t get ourselves. Taxpayers would have to have 3 to 4 million dollars in the bank to have what teachers will get over retirement. Some Administrators will get much more.

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  13. JMO – TE (where I live) is a top ranked school district. Yes, it is a team effort but the teachers are essentially the quarterbacks. The average salary speaks to long tenure and advanced education. I wouldn’t want all teachers being a year or 2 out of college. The inner city has that issue and they burn out. This school district will not go bankrupt. There is a cap on how high property taxes can be raised in any given year.

    We do need more details but to demonize the teachers, who have done a fantastic job for a long time, is simply unfair.

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    Taxpayer Reply:

    Many teachers of the year fail miserably when transferred to a different classroom and/or school. So is it the teacher or the school, or the motivation of the students, and parents? As with quarterbacks and supporting team members, circumstances and supporting cast are huge factors in the success of teachers.

    Many students are successful on the athletic field but not in the classroom. They obviously realize hard work pays off on the field and as such can pay off in the classroom too. Success is mostly up to the students and has little to do with teachers.

    No one is demonizing teachers. Because taxpayers want to know where their money is going does not mean teachers are mistreated.

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  14. Transparency is government’s obligation to share information with its citizens.

    It’s at the heart of how citizens hold their public officials accountable and fight corruption.

    People who are in control of information are in control.

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  15. Teachers’ union propaganda efforts continue with a mailer this weekend. I love how they talk about “average” salary but don’t admit that the average went down because so many new teachers (the ones the union least fights for) have come into T/E in the recent past. Average salary doesn’t mean anything and – as usual – the union leaves out all their other expensive benefits: healthcare at co-pays no one else in the world gets, pensions with no risk that no one else in the world gets these days, weeks and weeks of vacation others don’t get. All of it paid for by our taxes. TEEA never talks about these things, because it doesn’t help their propaganda.

    Here’s a question to TEEA: since so many new teachers have been brought into the district in recent years AND TESD has been ranked more highly than ever at the same time, can’t we assume that these less expensive teachers are just as good (or even better) than the really expensive ones? Why pay more when we are getting results with so many new and “underpaid” teachers?

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