A New Year … and so it begins. This is the time of year when we say goodbye to the old and welcome the new; to review 2017 and judge whether we are better or worse off than we were 12 months ago.
Whether you were delighted with the politics of 2017 or devastated, we can all look forward to expressing ourselves in 2018 (and hoping that it will make a difference). We live in challenging times but staying informed and engaged is the catalyst that makes this grand American experiment work.
Starting off the new year, is the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors meeting tonight at 7 PM. The 2018 organizational meeting, will elect the Board chair and vice chair — for 2017, Republicans Trip Lukens and Sean Moir served as chair and vice chair of the board.
The November election in Tredyffrin saw a historic increase in the number of Democrats serving on the Board. The Republicans still retain a 4-3 majority, including Paul Olson, the longest serving supervisor in the history of the township. Included on the agenda tonight is the swearing in of new supervisors – Matt Holt and Kevin O’Nell will be sworn in for their 1st term and Murph Wysocki will be sworn in for this 2nd term. Best wishes for a successful year to all seven supervisors!
On the TE School Board side, the school board starts off the new year tonight with their January school board meeting at 7:30 PM at Conestoga. Click here for agenda.
Two priority discussion items on the agenda — first, the Board will consider options to close the projected budget imbalance of approximately $6.8M for the 2018-2019 school year. Sounds like the start to tax increase discussion to me. For the record, TE School District residents have seen their property taxes increase for 13 straight years. You would have to go back to 2004-05 for the last zero tax increase year.
The second priority discussion is the reappointment of Dr. Rich Gusick as Superintendent of the District. Originally, Gusick was given a 3-year contract, July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018. The superintendent agreement under discussion tonight is for 5 years, July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2023.
Much has happened in the District in 2017 including ” a federal lawsuit against the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District and Amy Meisinger, principal of Conestoga High School alleging administrators and teachers at the High School created and tolerated a culture that emboldened Arthur Phillips, a 67-year old instructional aide, to repeatedly sexually abuse a female student.” Phillips was sentenced to 10-20 years for his criminal action and the Federal lawsuit remains open against the District.
Also in 2017, the public learned that Christine Towers, a former teacher’s aide and coach at Conestoga was sentenced to 11 to 23 months for a sexual relationship with a 16-year old learned disabled student at Conestoga that she tutored.
In May of 2017, Tom Batgos, the assistant Conestoga High School football coach fired by the District in the aftermath of the alleged hazing and sexual assault filed a lawsuit against District administrators, including Dr. Gusick citing defamation of character, misrepresentation, fraud, improper termination, etc. and seeks damaged of at least $50,000 in compensation plus punitive damages. I do not think that this lawsuit has yet been resolved.
The latest employee incident occurred on November 21. David Walker, an employee in the District’s IT Department was arrested by Tredyffrin police on November 21 (on school district property) for “open lewdness” and “indecent exposure”. This case is set for its preliminary hearing tomorrow, January 3 at 9 AM in the Easttown court of Magisterial District Judge Thomas W. Tartaglio. It is unclear how this arrest affects Mr. Walker’s employment in the District.
In the midst of outstanding legal issues of 2017, including the potential of a very expensive Federal lawsuit against the District, will this have any bearing on the Board’s decision to grant a 5-year contract to the Superintendent (six months in advance of its expiration)?
A New Year … and so it begins!
UPDATE: Republican Heather Greenberg was elected Chair of Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors and Murph Wysocki (D) was elected Vice Chair of the Board of Supervisors. Congratulations Heather and Murph!