A vacancy on Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors was announced at its meeting this week. The vacated position of Township Supervisor in District 1 (East) was held by long-serving supervisor Paul Olson, who recently sold his home and moved from the township.
A Republican, Olson was first elected as a Tredyffrin supervisor in 1976 and has served 43 years, losing only one election. Committed to serving the community, Paul was involved with many organizations, including the Red Cross, Tredyffrin Library, Surrey Services and the Carr School in Mt. Pleasant, to name a few. On a personal note, the ongoing support of Paul (and his wife Andrea) to historic preservation was much appreciated by myself and the other members of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust Board of Directors. As an elected official, he truly understood the importance of our local history and its preservation!
The Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors will make an interim appointment to fill the District 1 (East) seat. Persons interested in being considered for the appointment must be residents of District 1 (East) and voters of the E1, E2, E3, E4, E5 or M2 voting precincts. The Board of Supervisors will accept letters of interest (with resumes) through Friday, July 26 addressed to Tredyffrin Township, c/o Murph Wysocki, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors at Tredyffrin@tredyffrin.org.
The Personnel Committee of the Board of Supervisors (3 supervisors) will interview the candidates in a public meeting on Monday, August 5 at 7 PM at the township building. The Personnel Committee will make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors and the Board will vote on the appointment at its next meeting, on Monday, August 19.
It will be curious to see what happens with this supervisor appointment – will the Board of Supervisors, which currently holds a Democrat majority (4-2) honor the long-held Republican seat and appoint a Republican candidate? Or would the Board stick to the party line and appoint a ‘D’ to fill the vacancy?
The District 1 (East) seat is on the November ballot, making the vacancy an interim appointment. Although Julie Gosse (D) and Raffi Terzian (R) are the endorsed candidates for the seat in the November election, all residents of District (1) and registered voters (E1, E2, E3, E4, E5 or M2 precincts) are eligible to apply for the interim appointment.
Perhaps not wanting to appear partisan, the Board of Supervisors could appoint an ‘Independent’ registered candidate and make history – the township has never had an ‘I’ as a member of the Board of Supervisors. Of course, that assumes a registered Independent in District 1 (East) applies for the position. Over the last few years there have been many new people moving in to the township — applying for the interim supervisor position would be a great way to get involved in the community!
On the same night as the Board of Supervisors officially announced its vacancy on the Board, the T/E School District Board interviewed and appointed to fill its Region 3 vacancy – if you recall, last month Heather Ward (D) from Easttown resigned from the school board after serving 18 months of the 4 year term, stating that she would be taking a new job and moving out of state.
Ray Clarke attended the July 15 school board meeting and offers his comments on the interview and selection process and notes from the regular meeting. Although the school board agreed at its June meeting to correct the $1.2 million accounting error, it is noted that a month later the issue remains open. As has been stated repeatedly, there is a process with the PA Department of Education to make the necessary correction so the question from the public, remains WHY hasn’t it been done? The District’s Business Manager Art McDonnell was missing from the meeting – certainly not working on fixing the District’s accounting problem, guess it summer vacation for him. Remember folks, McDonnell received a new 5-year contract (with a raise!) starting July 1.
School Board Meeting Comments from Ray Clarke –
The TESD Board of Directors held special meetings on Monday; first to interview candidates to replace Heather Ward and second an official Board meeting to select one of them. Six Easttown residents applied and all presented themselves well, having relevant (but different) experiences and skills, with a good general understanding of the issues confronting TE and the role of the Board. In the formal Board meeting, three of the candidates were nominated and in the first round of voting Mary Garrett Itin was selected in a party line 5-2 vote (Tina Whitlow was out of the country). She has a social work and child mental health background and spoke of favoring a fact-based, objective and transparent approach. Kate Murphy and Ed Sweeney nominated applicants with legal and financial backgrounds who I thought might have been very well equipped to hold the Administration to account, but they were the sole supporters of their nominees.
The need for that oversight was starkly demonstrated in response to public comment during the remainder of the board meeting. Many different tacks were taken in an attempt to ascertain any information about actions taken in response to the Board vote to correct the Annual Financial Report filings with the state. All approaches elicited the same response: we’re working on it (in some unspecified manner) and you’ll find out more in the next scheduled Board meeting on August 26th.
Both aspects of the meeting then led to a round-about discussion of the ways to include qualified and motivated community members (such as the Board applicants) more directly in Committee deliberations. As a specific example, involved parents continued to advocate for their participation in the direction of the reading curriculum and spoke of insights from a recent academic conference. Ed Sweeney moved to include the general question of Committee make up as part of the strategic planning process, but in the end it was agreed (Kyle Boyer excepting) to consider the issue in the first Policy Committee meeting of the new academic year (perhaps a quicker forum). There are different approaches (eg voting/non-voting) and pros and cons to this, and it is a question well worthy of discussion.
Notably, at the end, the Solicitor reported that an Executive Session was held last week to discuss collective bargaining. The teacher contract is up for renewal at the end of the coming school year. In the new normal of budget deficits and cost pressures the usual issues of process transparency and compensation/program trade-offs may be more contentious than usual.