Karen Cruickshank

T/E School Board Candidate Debate . . . Missing Two Republican Candidates and No EIT Question!

The T/E School Board candidate debate was held last night.  The League of Women Voters used the same format as the night before at the Tredyffrin Township supervisor candidate debate.  Each of the eight candidates gave a 2-minute self-introduction, followed by answers submitted by audience members.  Answers by the candidates were limited to 1-1/2 min. and the evening ended with 2-minute closing remarks.  Each school board candidate was asked the same question with the initial question rotating through the candidates.

There were two empty seats on the dais for the debate – the candidates names Tara LaFiura (R) and Liz Mercogliano (R) were listed but no candidates. In the moderator’s opening remarks, she explained that the League of Women Voters had found out last-minute (the day before) that these two candidates would not be participating.  LaFuira is a candidate for Region 1 and Mercogliano is hoping to represent Region 2 on the school board. Hope that they both candidates are OK, but the empty seats with their names was somewhat strange.

The school board candidates who participated last night from Tredyffrin included incumbent Jim Bruce (R) Region 1; incumbent Karen Cruickshank (D) Region 1; Scott Dorsey (D) Region 2; Kris Graham (R) Region 2; Jerry Henige (D) Region 1 and Jenny Wessels (D) Region 2.  Easttown school board candidates were incumbent Pete Motel (R) and Craig Lewis (D).

Similar to the supervisor candidate debate, many responses from the school board members contained a repetitive theme; often showing little differences between the Republican and Democratic candidates, with one glaring exception.

It was obvious that the first time candidates had done their homework and could hold their own against the incumbents.  As a current PTO president, Jenny Wessels spoke of her relationship working with parents, teachers and staff at New Eagle Elementary.  Wessels is a labor and employment attorney and believes that her legal training, talents and collaborative spirit can be an asset to the school district during the upcoming teacher negotiations.

Candidate Kris Graham recently retired from the Radnor School District after 40 years of teaching. It is Graham’s belief that her unique background working with teachers and school administrators could prove  an asset with teacher contract negotiations locally and in Harrisburg.  Incumbent Pete Motel from Easttown has served on the school board for several years.  As a small business owner (a physician with 15 employees), Motel spoke of understanding hard work and offered that he will continue to work tirelessly to make the school district, “a better place one day at a time”. Motel commented that Conestoga High School is a very successful high school, placing third in the state on a state-wide test.  He reported that CHS is one of the top math/science high schools in America and that only Masterman in Philadelphia scored above Conestoga in the math/science high school rankings.

Incumbent Jim Bruce has served as a school board director since 2002 and has a strong desire to continue to be the voice for the people that he represents.  He and his wife have lived in the district for 41 years, their children went through the TESD and now he has two grandchildren in the school district. Current school board president Karen Cruickshank is passionate about education and community service.  As an incumbent, she spoke of understanding educational trends and the depth of financial commitment of the school district.  Scott Dorsey spoke of his experience as a successful administrator; taking nonprofit organizations operating in the red and making them profitable.  He stated that he will work diligently to bring people together and will work collaboratively with the unions.  Dorsey cited his work as a Baptist minister as an example of his dedication to service.

With the serious financial challenges facing the school district and the departure of Kevin Mahoney from the school board, candidate Jerry Henige believes that he can fill that gap, citing that he will be a financial steward.  Jerry believes that his financial skills, temperament and energy will make for a good school board director.

Easttown candidate Craig Lewis claims that the T/E school district is “going the wrong way”.  From his opening remarks, responses to questions and in his closing remarks, Lewis was the only candidate who appeared on a mission . . . to discredit the current school board and their past actions.  Lewis repeatedly made personal jabs at his opponent Pete Motel.  It did not seem to matter what the question was, all roads for Lewis seemed to lead back to Motel, and what he viewed as the many mistakes of the school board in recent years.  Lewis cited statistics throughout the debate but I was not able to distinguish their accuracies.  (As an aside, I received an email from Kevin Grewell, former school board member who attended the debate . . . his comments follow this article and address some of the statistics cited by Lewis.)

There was an interesting mix of questions from audience members.  One question asked the candidates their feelings about arts, music and physical education and what would they do to preserve these ‘extras’.  Graham pointed out that these extras are often the first things that come under scrutiny and spoke of TEMPO members that came out in defense of the fine arts programs and why it is needed.  Several candidates spoke of the annual musical at Conestoga high school and how with parent and community support, the play is self-sustaining each year.

On the topic of ‘extras’, Wessels was particularly passionate and disappointed about the ‘cutting of the foreign language program’ in the elementary schools and will not see that happen to art, music and phys ed.  Henige cited the need for the district to continue to foster students imagination and creativity and these programs need to be preserved.  As a school board member for 10 years, Bruce has been committed to protecting the arts.  He mentioned that TESD is one of the few schools in the system that has a social/emotional curriculum.

On the question of outsourcing of custodial services — Appreciating that many of the custodial staff are members of the community and understanding that there are tough decisions ahead; all the candidates support finding solutions that will keep the custodial services in-house.

The question that received the most passionate responses was on the subject of school vouchers and Gov. Corbett’s public education plans.  Not one candidate was in favor of the school voucher program.  Candidates did not believe that the school voucher program would bring strength to public schools, just the contrary – that vouchers will dismantle the public school system. Cruickshank went as far as suggesting Gov. Corbett visit TESD and see for himself the great teachers, administration and services.  She proposed using TESD as a ‘model’ for other school districts . . . not a bad idea.

Pension obligations are set to increase by $9 million over the next 4 years – the question to the candidates was what cuts would you make to balance the budget?  With the exception of Lewis, I think every candidate pointed the finger to the state capital as the mea culpa for the statewide pension problems. Several of the candidates mentioned that the financial crisis facing the local school districts requires more involvement with legislators in Harrisburg and that it will require the efforts of school board members, residents and teachers for changes to occur.  Lewis did not exactly share these sentiments.  It is his viewpoint that it is not fair to say that Harrisburg will ‘fix it’ – that the problem needs to be fixed locally.

It was unbelievable but there was no debate question on the Earned Income Tax (EIT) topic. Not one question, although it was my understanding from the League of Women Voters that had time permitted, the next debate question would have been an EIT question.

Here’s the comment received from Kevin Grewell following last night’s school board candidate debate:

I just attended the League of Women Voters school board candidates forum. I was not going to weigh in on this topic, as Pete Motel is my brother-in-law and I served with him on the TE school board from 1999 -2007, but I have to correct some serious factual errors in Mr. Lewis’ comments. (The comments made by Mr. Lewis at the forum closely followed his comments on this blog). Here are my comments:

1) TE’s biggest problem is not “irresponsible budgeting” or “wasteful spending” as Mr. Lewis claims. In fact, TE is one of the best run districts in Pennsylvania. Here are the facts:

* On a list of all 501 school districts in Pennsylvania, where #1 has the highest school property taxes and #501 has the lowest, TE ranks 467. There are only 34 districts with lower taxes than TE. Great Valley ranks 436, Radnor ranks 395, and Lower Merion ranks 392.
(PA Dept. of Education Equalized mills 2009-10, the latest year available)

* In FY 2011 per student spending in TE is $15,992. Great Valley is $17,803, Radnor $21,281, and Lower Merion is $28,141.

* TE’s debt for all of that allegedly wasteful construction is approximately $58 million. Percentage of millage to service that debt is currently 6.27%. Twelve years ago it was 6.15%. The PA Dept. of Education’s latest figures for debt are for 2009-10. The total debt at the end of that fiscal year for our competitive districts was:

T/E $53,829,669
Great Valley $89,667,632
Radnor $109,349,189
Lower Merion $321,962,624
(PA Dept. of Education website)

2) There is not any “no-bid contracting” as Lewis claims. State law mandates all contracts over $10,000 must be competitively bid. For small contracts, there are vendors/services vetted through a state consortium.

3) The Pennsylvania constitution prohibits treating one class of taxpayers differently than any other. Lewis is clearly not informed on this issue. The state legislature has been working on this for many years with very limited success, beginning with Act 50 in 1998, Act 72 in 2004 and finally Act 1 of 2006. The only thing the legislature could come up with is a complex scheme of funding “Homestead Exemptions” with gambling revenue. The TE school board has no legal authority to tax seniors or retirees differently than other taxpayers.

4) Budget deficits are caused by the state created and state controlled pension system and the economic downturn, not by irresponsible spending by the TE board. In his forum comments tonight, Lewis himself admitted that school districts all across the state are in the red. Exactly . . . . .

It is fine to run for office, but there is no excuse for going negative with such blatant disregard for the facts.

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T/E School District Offers Explanation of Conestoga’s Omission from Newsweek’s ‘Best High Schools in America’ Rankings

Following-up on Newsweek’s listing of America’s best high schools; I emailed an excerpt from my Community Matters post to TESD administration, school board members and to Karen Cruickshank, president of the board.  I asked for comment or explanation of why Conestoga High School was missing from the Newsweek best high schools in America list when neighboring high schools (Lower Merion, Radnor, Great Valley, etc.) were listed.

There has been a response from the school district and from Karen Cruickshank.  Like many of us, Karen too was disappointed that Conestoga was not on the Newsweek list and volunteered that she had received phone calls from realtors asking the same question as to ‘why’.  She assures me that the error will be corrected and that T/E will participate in the Newsweek high school survey next year.

To offer an explanation as to why Conestoga High School was not included in this year’s ‘best of the best’ rankings by Newsweek, Karen sent the following response she received from T/E administration:

I am writing to respond to the message concerning the Newsweek Best High Schools List. As you are aware, Conestoga was not included in this year’s Newsweek list of “America’s Best High Schools.” In following up with Newsweek, we learned that an email was sent in mid-May to all secondary schools requesting information. The email, Newsweek explained, was sent to a Conestoga High School counselor. The counselor, however, reported that the email was not received. We subsequently sent our data to Newsweek, and we would have placed around #100 on the list based upon their calculations. We have since corrected the Newsweek contact information to ensure that we are included in its analysis in future years.

Althoughk nowing why Conestoga HS did not appear on this year’s Newsweek rankings may not satisfy everyone, it does help explain the omission.

According to the administration, the Newsweek email was not received by the school district.  After the fact, the school district did submit Conestoga’s survey data to Newsweek but apparently did not make the submission deadline.  Additionally, the administration offers that Conestoga should have “placed around #100”.  Since the data was public when sent to Newsweek, I will ask the school board to provide the submitted information.  Conestoga’s statistical data will be posted when I receive it.

Regardless of how you feel about rankings, it’s the world we live in . . . whether you are looking at colleges or finding a doctor, some of us find the information useful in making decisions.

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Looking to T/E Teachers for ‘Shared Sacrifice’ – Pay Increase Waiver not Salary Freeze

School districts across the state are scrambling to plug projected budget gaps stemming from deep cuts in state funding and TESD is no different. The use of “shared sacrifice” has become a common and oft-repeated phrase in today’s political discourse. As school district budget deadlines loom, we are see that teachers (fairly or unfairly) are finding themselves of in the limelight on this topic.  In my view, we do need to boldly address our deficit crisis, but we need to do it in a way that is fair.

Last night’s TESD Finance Committee meeting had a very different tone than the last school board meeting. As the school board and administration discussed the few remaining available budget strategies, I had a sense that the school board was digging in its heels, expecting a ‘pay increase waiver’ versus a ‘salary freeze’, which the teachers union previously offered.  Although the T/E teachers union (TEEA) states the value of their salary freeze offer is $2.5 million, the school board counters that the freeze does nothing more than extend the teacher contract by a year and ultimately costs the district more money.  Encouraging the teachers union in the path of shared sacrifice, the school board prefers the teachers consider a pay increase waiver which, if I understand correctly, requires opening their current contract.

Credit needs to be extended to TEEA for their offer of a salary freeze to the school district. For some teachers, they believe that by offering a salary freeze, they are sharing the sacrifice. Let’s remember that Gov. Corbett suggested that teacher unions offer a salary freeze to their school districts to help with budget deficits. (I don’t recall his using the words, ‘pay increase waiver’.)  Yes, there is a budget crisis in school districts across the state; but I admit that I have difficulty with the breaking of a contract, which was negotiated in good faith by the teachers.  If contracts mean nothing then should we all go home and break our car purchase contract, our mortgage contract, and every other contract we signed in good faith where we expect both parties to be honorable.   What about ‘negotiating’ after the contract is fulfilled . . . ?

Looking at discussion from the other side, the school board is struggling with the remaining budget shortfall.  So . . . what do they do?  In their minds, they believe that the teachers should help with a ‘pay increase waiver’ (shared sacrifice) which according to their calculations could net $3 million.  At the meeting I had a sense that the school board is listening to the public and are interested in keeping the process transparent.  They offered that they have heard from TENIG, the non-instructional union, and are reviewing the offer.  Keeping the community ‘in the loop’ will prove a win-win for the school board, the teachers, and ultimately the taxpayers.

Setting aside the timeline debate of the April 14th TEEA teacher union offer letter of a salary freeze, and the rejection of the offer by the school board, last night the Finance Committee presented their side of the argument in favor of a pay increase waiver.  According to their analysis, the school district budget projection for 2011-12 is as follows:

  • Budget Projection as of May 2, 2011:      $3,170,509
  • Budget Projection (TEEA and TENIG Pay Increase Waiver:   $170,510
  • Budget Projection (TEEA Proposal Letter):         $946,122
  • Budget Projection (Custodial Outsourcing):        $2,370,438

Following the Finance Meeting, I asked Pete DePiano, president of the teachers union for his thoughts.  Here is his response,

“The 450+ members of the Tredyffrin/Easttown Education Association will stay true to their integrity in attempting to come up with a final cost savings offer for the district’s consideration.” 
 
Pete DePiano
President, TEEA

DePiano’s response tells us that the teachers are continuing to work on possible solutions to help with the budget crisis. Open and honest communication between the teachers union and the school board will aid greatly in the ongoing budget discussions. I want to believe that both sides can work together for the sake of the kids and the community.

Ray Clarke kindly offers his comments on the Finance Committee meeting below:

  • The TEEA proposal is judged to be worse on a 5-year time horizon than the status quo, because the projected $2.05 million of savings in 2011/12 is offset by salaries in the following years that are $0.5 million higher than they would otherwise be, due to two years of step movement rather than one. The higher salaries also trigger proportionate benefit cost increases, but there appear to be no fundamental differences between benefit programs, premium contributions, etc. in either scenario.
  • The salary “waiver” has the greatest impact on the district because the saving occurs every year. Although the model was presented without tax increases, it looks to me that, under this scenario, very modest increases in taxes (property or EIT) and gradual use of the “PSERS stabilization” fund balance could allow the district to fund the retirement fund beyond the five-year time horizon.
  • The Board did appeal again to the community to make their voice heard with legislators regarding the PSERS problem, and our frequent academic economist commenter also reminded us once again of the fundamentally bankrupt public pension plans. A couple of data points: the recent “fix” assumes an 8% investment return, and provides retiring career teachers with my estimate of an equivalent $1.25 million annuity. Just to keep this simple, here are the options:

 1. Reduce the liability by undoing the multiplier increase for all, not just new hires (the decrease needs a change in the state constitution, unlike the increase…)

2. Increase taxes:
a) statewide  (Marcellus gas, personal income, corporate income, etc.), or
b) locally (property, income)

3. Redirect spending from somewhere else. Like where? Pick your poison! What would Dinniman and Kampf propose?

  • There was a very unsatisfying discussion of a possible Activity Fee, punting it along to next week’s board meeting. Needless complications about different bases for charging. The bottom line: salaries and transportation for (non-mandated) extra-curricular activities cost the district $1.14 million a year. 80-85% of students participate in at least one. Nobody is making any argument that these activities are not totally worthwhile. A universal charge could be simply administered. So the issue is straightforward: do these continue to be funded by all taxpayers, or do families with high school and maybe middle school students bear a little more of the cost? Hopefully the full Board can have a discussion along these lines next week.
  • The timeline for an EIT study seems very compressed. The Board is considering appointing a study group; they need to get on that right away. If an EIT makes enough sense to put to a referendum, there’s a November 16th deadline for notifying the townships of that intent.
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Countdown to Primary Election May 17 – T/E School Board Candidates Resumes

The Pennsylvania Primary Election is 3 weeks from tomorrow — Tuesday, May 17, 2011. As I previously announced on April 11, I will provide all the candidates resumes on Community Matters. I hope that by providing in-depth information on local candidates will encourage increased voter turnout for the Pennsylvania Primary Election. Historically, voter turnout in Tredyffrin Township has been low for the Primary Election, (particularly in a non-presidential year) — here’s hoping that trend will change on May 17. 

Currently serving School Board members Karen Cruickshank, Jim Bruce and Pete Motel are seeking re-election. Two of the current school board members, Debbie Bookstaber and Kevin Mahoney have decided not to see re-election.

The School Board candidates for the Primary Election are listed below.  (Click on candidates names to read their resumes). It is my understanding that all school board candidates have cross-filed as both Republican and Democratic candidates. Easttown candidate Craig Lewis was contacted and invited to supply his resume but he failed to respond. If Mr. Lewis would like to have his resume included with the other candidate resumes, I would be happy to add it.

Tredyffrin-Easttown School Board Candidates:

  • Easttown, Region 3: Peter Motel (R) **
  • Easttown, Region 3: Craig Lewis (D) No Response from Candidate

**  Incumbent

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T/E Teachers Union Offers Salary Freeze . . . TESD Rejects Offer, Wants Pay Increase Waiver

Tredyffrin Easttown School District is struggling with the budget crisis much as other school districts across the state and the country.  Serious budget issues escalated last month with Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget, which contained massive cuts to public education funding. 

School districts nationwide are looking for ways to balance their budgets in the face of looming deficits. Often budget discussions focus on teacher unions, which quickly turn into a debate about whether they have given too much or not enough at a time when school dollars are scarce.  There are those that vilify teacher unions as the cause of escalating school district budgets, claiming that their pensions, health care coverage and guaranteed salary raises have increased the property taxes of those who pay the teacher salaries.  Counter to this attitude are public school teachers and their supporters who claim that politicians are looking to balance budgets on their backs.

School districts and the teachers unions are vying to make their individual cases to the public.  As budget discussions become more heated, often times the divide increases between the two sides. School district officials are looking to balance their budgets and teacher union leaders struggle to protect the rights of their workers. There are always two sides to a story but there is a very important third party, whose rights are often overlooked in the debate . . . the taxpayer.

“ . . . It is well understood that this school district [TESD] like so many in this country is facing a financial crisis.  It would appear that this is the time for all of us to work together instead of against each other.  As a good first step, I would propose that the information disseminated be supported.  Unfortunately, when situations reach a crisis level within an organization (whether it is the school district, local government, corporations, etc) rumor mills explode and before you know it, things are out of control.”  Community Matters, January 18, 2010

I wrote these words 15 months ago in the post, ‘Is the Teacher Union aiding in the Fact vs. Fiction Component of the TESD Budget Crisis” and they are just as important today.

I believe in the value of transparency and availability of information from government to the public.  To understand a situation and to make an informed decision requires knowing the truth.  As I said in January 2010, “. . . when situations reach a crisis level . . . rumor mills explode and before you know it, things are out of control.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth. 

Residents in the T/E School District were told by the T/E School Board that letters (dated April 6, 2011) had gone to the two district unions, Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association, TEEA the teachers union and Tredyffrin Easttown Non-Instructional Group, TENIG.  According to the school board, the letters could not be made public for legal reasons. It is my understanding that the school board letters contained a request to both unions for a pay increase waiver for next year.  If you recall, Gov. Corbett had suggested that teachers unions in Pennsylvania encourage their members to take a salary ‘freeze’ for next year to help their budget shortfalls. Several residents have contacted me and some have spoken up at the school board meetings to ask about the TESD letters, and if there has been a response from either union.  With hands apparently tied legally, our school board was not able to provide much detail.  I was told last week that members of TENIG were considering some kind of ‘give-back’ offer to the district and were to vote yesterday on their offer.

Until earlier this week, I assumed that the teachers union was not considering any type of ‘give-back’ offer or concession. My impression from attending district budget, finance and school board meetings was certainly that no response (or offer) had been received by the district.  During the course of this week however, I have had phone calls and emails from numerous sources suggesting that a salary freeze offer was made to the T/E School Board but that the offer was rejected.  To clarify, these sources of information were not TEEA union leadership. 

Clearly confused but believing in the publics ‘right to know’, yesterday I contacted via email the members of the TESD school board and Pete DePiano, TEEA union president. The following email was sent to the School Board and DePiano asking for clarification:

Dear __________

I am in receipt of information that indicates, among other things, that there was an offer made from Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association teachers union for salary freezes for next year, in advance of the negotiations for the next contract.  According to several sources, the TESD school board rejected the teacher union’s salary freeze offer, citing that such an offer would only be acceptable if the current teacher’s contract were opened and renegotiated. 

I am working on an article on this topic and I am affording you the opportunity to comment on this matter.  If you wish to comment, I will need the information within 24 hours, by 10 AM Friday, April 29, 2011. 

Kind regards,
Pattye Benson

From the President of TEEA, I received the following email response:

On April 15, 2011, TEEA formally offered a salary schedule pay freeze to the T/E Board of School Directors.  The Board formally has responded to TEEA that they cannot accept the offer.  As the T/E School District prepares to finalize its budget for 2011-12, TEEA will continue to work diligently with its members behind the scenes to attempt to reach another cost savings offer.

Pete DePiano
TEEA President

In response to my request, I received the following response from T/E School Board President Karen Cruickshank:

Dear Pattye:

Many thanks for contacting the T/E School Board about a teacher offer in T/E.  As you know we are in a significant budget crisis, and have asked both of our unions in a sense of shared sacrifice to participate in a pay waiver.  At our Monday night Finance meeting we will provide a detailed presentation about why we can not accept a pay freeze but would welcome a pay waiver.  I would encourage you to attend the meeting so that you can see the entire presentation and ask any questions that you have of the board.

Many thanks for your commitment to providing information to our community. 

Most sincerely,
Karen Cruickshank
T/E School Board President

Karen Cruickshank sent a follow-up email:

Dear Pattye:

In regards to your request for information about union offers in the T/E School District, the TESD School Board does not negotiate in public.  We continue to remain in close communications with both of our unions.  

As I did say in my earlier e-mail there is confusion over the difference between a pay waiver and a pay freeze, and we will clearly point out the financial differences between them at our Monday night Finance Committee meeting.  The Board as always will be most happy to take questions from the community at the meeting.

Most sincerely,
Karen Cruickshank
T/E School Board President

Although we learn from these responses that there was an ‘offer’ from the teachers union and a ‘rejection’ from the school district, what did the offer letter and the rejection letter actually say . . . ? It is obvious there is confusion between a salary ‘freeze’ and a salary ‘waiver’ and it is noted from both of Cruikshank’s responses, that the school board intends to clarify those distinctions at TESD’s upcoming Finance Committee meeting on Monday night.

I did not receive copies of either the TEEA letter to T/E School Board or the letter from the T/E School Board to TEEA.  However, with a bit of research online I was able to track down both letters.  The letters are available online (and therefore public) and can be found at www.teeacher.org .

In addition to the TEEA and TESD letters, there is a note to the teachers from DePiano:

To all TEEA members:

Below are two letters. The first, dated April 15, 2011, is TEEA’s response to the TE School Board’s request that we waive the fourth year of our contract. It consists of a refusal to waive the contract and an offer to freeze the contract for one year and extend it.

The second, dated April 27, 2011, is the District’s response, a refusal to consider any agreement that involves extending our contract.

To clarify: A waiver would cancel the fourth year of our collectively bargained contract and put us into immediate negotiations for a new agreement. A freeze is essentially a one-year pause. We would work in 2011-2012 under the same provisions we have this year. We would then realize the negotiated final year of our contract in 2012-2013.

Yours in solidarity,

Pete DePiano, President TEEA

You will note that the TEEA offer letter dated April 15, 2011 to TESD states in part,

“ . . . In an attempt to prevent more painful cuts from having to occur (including program cuts, increases in class size, or an outsourcing of the custodial staff) yet also honor the contract that was negotiated in good faith, the Representative Council of TEEA has authorized a salary freeze proposal for the Board’s consideration.  This includes a salary step freeze for 2011-12 based on the current 2010-11 salary schedule, with the final year of the originally bargained contract realized in 2012-13, including step movement and salaries.  It provides PSERs clemency to staff that will be retiring next year, and maintains status quo on all other provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. . . . I estimate this proposal will generate over $2.5 million in savings for FY 2011-12. . . “

The T/E School District response of April 27, 2011 rejected the TEEA offer stating that their letter of April 6, 2011 called upon the unions to accept a

“. . . one-year pay increase waiver as their contribution to the shared sacrifice to support T/E students.  After June 30, 2011, a waiver indicates that there will be no movement vertically or horizontally on the matrix for the 2011-12 school year.  The settlement of the new bargaining agreement effective July 1, 2012 will direct the placement of staff on the salary matrix for future years.  A one-year pay increase waiver would waive contract raises for the two unions’ employees for the 2011-12 school year and would result in a cost savings of approximately $3,000,000. . . “

Again, as I said more than a year ago, “rumor mills explode” and there is only one way to correct misinformation and that is with the facts. 

The budget crisis facing the school district and our community should not be about ‘picking sides’ . . . it should be about providing transparency, factual information and letting the public draw their own conclusions.

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It’s Official . . . Announcing Candidates for Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors & Tredyffrin-Easttown School Board!

Tuesday, March 8th was the deadline to file petitions for Pennsylvania’s May 17, 2011 primary election.

Special thanks goes to Mike Broadhurst, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee and Dariel Jamieson, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee for providing the names of candidates for the Board of Supervisors and the Tredyffrin Easttown School Board.  Mike and Dariel have agreed to supply the bios and/or resumes of each of the supervisor and school director candidates which I will provide in a future post on Community Matters.

Note on School Director candidates:  To become a school board candidate, you must file a petition signed by at least 10 qualified voters of the school district for the political party with which the petition will be filed. It is my understanding that all school board candidates are cross-filing. To cross-file in a primary election (that is, to run on both political parties), a registered Democrat or Republican must circulate a proper petition for the other party. The petition must contain signatures as previously mentioned. If elected on both party ballots in the May primary, a candidate will appear on both party ballots in the general election in November.

The candidates for the May 17, 2011 primary election are as follows:

The Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

  • Region 1:  James Bruce **
  • Region 1:  Tara G. LaFiura
  • Region 2:  Kristine Graham
  • Region 2:  Elizabeth Mercogliano

The Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

  • Region 1:  Karen Cruickshank **
  • Region 1:  Jerry Henige
  • Region 2:  Scott Dorsey
  • Region 2:  Jenny Wessels

The Easttown Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidate for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

  • Easttown, Region 3: Peter Motel **

The Easttown Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidate for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

  • Easttown, Region 3:  No Candidate

For Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidates:

  • Supervisor at Large:  Michael Heaberg **
  • Supervisor at Large:  Kristen Kirk Mayock
  • District 1 East:  Paul Olson **  
  • District 3 West:  John DiBuonaventuro **

For Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates:

  • Supervisor at Large:  Molly Duffy
  • Supervisor at Large:  Ernani (Ernie) Falcone
  • District 1 East:   Victoria (Tory) Snyder
  • District 3 West:   No Candidate

For Tredyffrin Township Auditor, the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidate:

  • Bryan Humbarger

For Tredyffrin Township Auditor, the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidate:

  • No Candidate

For Chester County Magisterial District Judge, District Court 15-4-01, the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidate:

  • Jeremy Blackburn **

For Chester County Magisterial District Judge, District Court 15-4-01, the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidate:

  • Analisa Sondergaard

** Incumbent

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