In TESD, Say NO to 2.6% Tax Increase & Say NO To Eliminating ERB Testing in the 2020-21 Budget

There is a virtual TESD finance committee meeting tonight at 7 PM (click here for agenda).

Across the state, school districts are approving 2020-21 budgets with zero tax increase, why not TESD.  As it now stands, the District budget includes a 2.6% tax increase; the largest permitted by the Act 1 guideline. Should the school board move forward with this tax increase, it will mark the 16th straight year of a tax increase to the District’s residents!

School board, how can you raise property taxes to people who are losing their incomes?

The entire world has been turned upside down. Because of the Covid-19 crisis, we are all suffering; residents have lost their jobs, local businesses are “hanging on by their fingernails” and almost all of us are in worse financial shape. Now is not the right time to raise property taxes.

We understand that freezing property taxes at their current rate is challenging but now is not the time for a tax increase as our residents struggle in the midst of an uncertain future.  To avoid a tax increase in 2020-21 budgets, other PA school districts are utilizing a variety of savings solutions such as freezing wages for its employees for one year, scaling back or putting projects on hold or increasing its fund balance transfer amount.  What is TESD current fund balance … 40 million?

One of the cost savings contained in the proposed 2020-21 budget which I DO NOT support is to eliminate ERB CPT testing for a one year savings of $85,000.  A form of assessment to guide instruction and reading, ERB testing has been used in the District for many years to measure students’ progress.

With Covid-19 requiring the closure of schools and the launching of distance learning, ERB testing becomes MORE important as a consistent tool for families to review the progress of their children.  There has been much discussed about the District’s distance learning program during these last few months with the consensus not entirely positive, particularly in the lower grades.  Although it remains unclear what the TE schools will look like in September; there is a real possibility that some form of distance learning will need to continue.

Having the ability to measure the impact of Covid-19 on the District’s students is serious; making the ability to review and analyze the ERB testing data critical. With the continuance of distance learning a real possibility and to better prepare its students, now is not the time to eliminate ERB testing.  Budget savings should not come at a cost to our students.

In you OPPOSE a 2.6% tax increase and/or if you OPPOSE the elimination of ERB testing in the TESD 2020-21 budget, you need to act now. Please send your comments with your name and town to Virtualfinancecomment@tesd.net by 6 PM tonight.

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13 Comments

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  1. Thank you for keeping the public informed! Without your blog, TESD would not be held accountable!

    Both the tax increase and the elimination of the ERB’s are glaring examples of a school board being led by administrators who do not have their customers‘ (students and families) best interest in mind. Hopefully, the board will reconsider both decisions because of the negative consequences they pose for our students and community. We have a board who refuses to lead or listen to their constituents! When will students and families be the board’s first priority?

  2. The ERBs were critical in identifying our kids’ early struggles when T/E’s “home-grown” assessments did not. I am so grateful that this test was available. It is especially important to keep the ERBs until the district has another assessment in place. At this point, TESD hasn’t committed to any alternative, except teacher feedback.

    We have had a good experience with elementary distance learning. Our teachers have done everything they can do to keep the kids happy and engaged, and I am sure, learning. That said, because of the challenges of COVID, very little work has been turned in, and there has been relatively little “face to face” interaction, short of class meetings. I am not sure what feedback they will be able to provide from the middle of March to present. If some form of distance learning resumes in the fall, I am worried we, parents and teachers, won’t know what gaps we need to fill, especially for our younger students.

    I really hope that the District decides tonight to keep the ERBs!

  3. Enough is enough! Has the board not looked around and seen how much our community has suffered with this pandemic? How can they do this after the shenanigans of last year. And then trying to ditch the ERB’s so there is no accountability for the district when the numbers show that distance learning was extremely ineffective? Do they think we are ignorant as to why they want to drop this test?

  4. I have a small business that was shuttered in March and for the first time in my life, I am on unemployment. It’s hard to know when my business will be able to re-open and whether it will survive. I know that my situation is not isolated in this community. School board, how can you even consider raising taxes?

  5. The tax increase at issue this evening, when the coronavirus pandemic has wiped out the livelihood of some and substantially diminished the incomes of many others, with unknown further consequences yet to come, represent yet another instance of shocking tone deafness.

  6. Time for TESD and the state to start trimming politicians, teachers and administrator wages just like many companies are doing. Please don’t even think about raising taxes! Hopefully, layoffs can be avoided, but sorry to say there is a lot of hardship coming till we get through the other side of the Covid19 crisis.

  7. Appalled there would be any discussion of tax increase there is no compassion for those in the district who have lost jobs or been furloughed – unemployment at its highest level and to consider any type of tax increase is completely heartless!

  8. As a parent and leader of BUILD T/E (www.buildte.org) I am concerned that about the elimination of ERB assessments as a budget strategy in 2020-21.

    We’ve all read articles about how distance learning through COVID-19 has most negatively impacted students from low-income families and students with special needs.

    Even if you don’t fall into either of these categories, we’re all worried about the same things. Is my child learning? If so, what? If not, what are they missing? Are my child’s needs being supported at school? What are the expectations for my child as they enter next year? Will they be completely stressed out if they don’t meet the expectations? How do we know?

    For decades in T/E, parents and teachers have valued the annual fall ERB assessments to quickly identify learning gaps and work to address them. The School Board’s budget strategy to remove the ERBs for next year will eliminate the ability to do so during a critical time to assess the students’ needed supports due to distance learning that was necessitated by the pandemic. Please note that the $84k cost of the ERB’s as a budget strategy is a “drop in the bucket” compared to the $7.5 million deficit the budget needs to cover.

    As a critical component to supporting students’ mental health and stress our schools need to ensure that their academic needs are understood and supported. Please read our blog post to understand more, see the reports available that you may want to request before the ERB system becomes unavailable to run reports and how you can help.

    *Importantly, parents may wish to request their students’ historic data before it no longer available. Sample report information is in the link.

    BUILD’s blog post can be found here: https://www.buildte.org/post/budget-strategy-to-eliminate-important-assessments-given-to-support-students-academically

  9. There can be no justification for increasing taxes OR cutting ERB testing in the 20-21 TESD budget. The economy of Chester County has been on complete lockdown since mid-March. Paying additional school tax, when our local businesses have been closed, is insult to injury. TESD honored its contract to the teachers. They didn’t suffer financially. However, all TESD students did suffer from not going to school for 25% of the school year. Say NO!

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