Last night’s TE School Board meeting did not mark a good night for the District’s taxpayers! Many of us left the meeting disheartened and feeling like the warm summer evening would have been better spent with a glass of Chardonnay. Here are the highlights, or rather low-lights of the meeting.
New Maintenance & Storage Building: $4.5 million, approved 8-1 (Liz Mercogliano dissenting vote)
The District’s Business Manager Art McDonnell and the architect Tom Daley from Daley & Jalboot presented a lengthy presentation on the proposed $4.5 million maintenance & storage building. Helping to convince that the project was necessary, photos of current overcrowded storage facilities, closets, etc. accompanied the presentation. Taxpayers did not question that something needed to be done to improve the situation but did question the project’s escalating costs, the Old Lancaster Road location and the treatment of the neighbors. The fantasy architectural drawings indicate a tree-lined boulevard, not the realty of Old Lancaster Road … a narrow residential street of small homes sitting below grade to this new, large maintenance building.
2015-16 Budget: Approved deficit budget with a 3.81% tax increase, 8-1 (Liz Mercogliano dissenting vote).
The 3.81% tax increase marks the eleventh straight year that the TE School Board has raised taxes. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer from Sunday, June 14, the 3.81% tax increase for 2015-16 marks the largest tax increase in Chester County.
The last year the TESD saw no tax increase was 2004-05 as seen below:
• 2015-16: 3.81%
• 2014-15: 3.4%
• 2013-14: 1.7%
• 2012-13: 3.3%
• 2011-12: 3.77%
• 2010-11: 2.9%
• 2009-10: 2.95%
• 2008-09: 4.37%
• 2007-08: 3.37%
• 2006-07: 3.90%
• 2005-06: 1.40%
• 2004-05: Zero Tax Increase
Discretionary compensation increases above the 1.7% contract for Supervisors and Administrators: Approved 7-2 (Liz Mercogliano and Scott Dorsey dissenting votes)
Valley Forge Middle School Fencing: Board agreed to further discussion of hiring of a fencing safety consultant at the next Facilities Committee meeting. An RFP for safety expert to be sent in the Fall.
TE School District Redistricting: Based on the distribution of voters in the school district, there is under representation of elected officials in Tredyffrin, District 2. It was suggested that the Board’s Legislative Committee would review the redistricting issue at their next meeting, in September. Disenfranchised voters are discussing a grassroots effort of their own re redistricting.
Reflecting on last night’s school board meeting, had me wondering why should I or other citizens bother to show up? As some have often stated on Community Matters, the Board seemingly makes its decisions in advance and then delivers those decisions as a united front. Questions from the public are only marginally answered, if at all. The Board views comments from residents as criticism and/or annoyances.
Election Day is November 3, 2015. Five seats on the TE School Board are on the November ballot – Vote for Change!