Pattye Benson

Community Matters

After 86 Comments re $600K Offer to TE School Board, Community Matters is Starting a New Thread

The following post received 86 comments and I was just asked to start a new post, same topic. I guess it was becoming difficult to page through the comments. So here you go. We can call this one Part 2. If you click on the title below it is hyperlinked and will take you to the original post and the 86 comments. But all new comments should be made here and we can close out the other thread.

Question . . . Has our Local Teachers Union Made a ‘No Strings Attached’ Offer of $600K to the TE School Board?

New thread starting about the TESD budget, Teacher Union offer of $600K, Finance Meeting, program cuts, possible teacher layoffs. Teachers, residents, administrators, union leaders . . . let’s keep the good commentary going.
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  1. OK, per a suggestion from a reader I have started a new thread for anything TESD-related. With 86 comments, the other thread was becoming difficult to read. Teachers, residents, union leaders, administrators, school board members — you are welcomed and invited to keep the good dialogue going. I firmly believe that we all benefit and learn from each other by sharing our ideas.

  2. Thanks for this. I was unable to view it before with all the pages.
    Does anyone have the schedule for how the school board will move forward? When is the next meeting that will deal with the budget or the programs that might be affected — and how will we know if the teacher offer is being considered?

    1. As far as I know, the next formal event specifically related to the Budget will be the March 8th Finance Committee meeting. The plan for that meeting is to review the strategies from #12 on to the end, in a process like that used at the last meeting – although possibly with some limits on discussion in order to get through all the options. After that, there is a Match 15th “Budget Workshop”, and April 12th and May 3rd Finance committee meetings before a May 10th full Board meeting at which the “Proposed Final Budget” will be adopted, leading to the Final Budget adoption on June 14th.

      There is a regular School Board meeting on February 22nd. That might be a good occasion to find out whether there have been any official written communications from the TEEA, or any formal discussions about those communications or about anything else.

      There was one comment from one of the previous threads that caught my eye – suggesting that the budget ideas were financially motivated, despite administration claims to the contrary. I think that the commentator was right – it is the financial crisis that has focused attention on how our money is spent. However, although the initial stimulus may be financial, it should not be surprising that our experience and current practices can suggest better ways to do some things. In other cases, though, there is no doubt that there will just be fewer resources available, and programs that would otherwise be nice to have will have to go.

  3. Does anyone know if the 3rd snow day will have any impact on the TESD finances — just curious. Are there a certain amount of snow days factored in to the calendar (and budget). Guess this is not counted as the 3 free days from the teachers, right?

    1. As far as I know the answer is no. There have not been snow days factored into the calendar. (I don’t know why schools seemed to have dropped that.) Teachers and students will extend the school year by three days. (Teachers do not get paid extra due to being salaried.) In terms of a financial impact, I guess the district would only pay for their hourly employees and the secretarial staff.

      1. The district has their calendar online — Rescheduled student days for use in the event of emergency closings. — and it’s already updated to reflect these three snowdays to show the first 3 days as part of the school year:
        Day 1 June 16 Day 2 June 17 Day 3 June 18
        Day 4 March 29 Day 5 March 30 Day 6 March 31

  4. Ray – I agree that there is a financial component, but I would also like to suggest that the middle school and FLES changes appear to have been under study for quite some time — FLESbecause of the increasing requirements for curricular time at the elementary school in light of the PSSA testing requirements. The middle school changes are also likely to have come about because the Keystone exams really do change that the system will accomodate. Listening the other night to people talk about the plusses of a middle school program was fascinating for those of us who heard the exact opposite when the MS was implemented — how kids would be bored if they were not leveled, and how parents of elementary challenge students were concerned that their kids would not feel “special” if everyone got group time…painful to present in those days, but obviously so much of it worked out (despite no “data” to support the move at the time). Thanks for the dates of meetings.

  5. Here’s an interesting article from today’s Inquirer on the pros and cons of “pay to play”, with some benchmarks of fees charged in many regional schools.

    In general it looks as though the other district fees were higher than the $20 proposed in the T/E budget strategies (#17).

    It seems to me fair to place a little more of the cost of extra-curriculars on those who are actually benefiting from the activities.

    To Andrea’s post about the comments regarding the earlier changes to the MC program – it also struck me that there is always going to be a constituency that feels (rightly or wrongly) that any given proposed change is going to adversely impact their child. I’ve seen what a huge jump it is from non-leveled middle school Science to AP Biology and SAT 2 in freshman year at CHS, and I know that kids could get a lot more out of the latter if they were better prepared with more advanced science in middle school.

    Going to the discussion on the old thread about the grievance filed to get credit for “third party” courses. From my perspective the language in the contract regarding college accreditation (“Each 15 credit increment must include nine credits from a degree-granting college or university. The remaining credits may be earned through Pennsylvania Intermediate Units.”) leaves open the question of the status of a third party affiliated with a school (eg the TEEA mentions a course actually offered by a Bob Randall, not Gratz College). I don’t consider that needing clarification on this is a reflection on either the Administration or the Union. The Arbitrator decided that the courses do count, but only as part of the six IU credits. Seems like a reasonable solution to me.

  6. Ray
    I think your comments about the contract are right on — I read the contract and the Testifier per Dennis references — I don’t think it was a problem for any party — just a disagreement that the Union had to grieve and the Board had to oppose — think the outcome was pretty neutral, and did not look to me like the District position was anything close to trying to deny the teachers.
    The MS program comments are also pretty insightful — people fear change. “The Devil you know” is a very accurate cliche for most of us. The Middle School has leveled Math for a long time — the sad part about going to a leveling program is that the goal of the MS being unleveled in many areas was to prevent kids from self-labeling during a period of their lives when it can be so painful (I”m bad at English…I’m dumb in Science). The goal was to encourage kids to try to reach when they got to high school by not having them feel unprepared. AP Bio in 9th grade is an example that is troubling sometimes — because we all race to the top. My 11th grader took it at Haverford the same year that my 9th grader took it at CHS — both did well and both scored well on the AP — but there is no question that the 11th grader was far more prepared to LEARN and master the subject while the 9th grader simply acquired the information. Maturity? Don’t know. Somehow I think it was the course sequence that prepared him better (Physics First in 9th grade, then Chem then Bio, with Sr. year doing advanced Phys and Advanced Chem) AP Bio as a 9th grader is a big leap but sure the sequence serves the student as well as 9th grade science can/does.

  7. Some night owls on the site — this is a great article. Thanks for referencing it. Lots of good points — and one that affects us here is that when you lay off by seniority, you have to lay off MORE teachers to reach the same financial objective. However, we are doing program changes — so any lay offs will be less senior teachers, so it might not achieve the financial objective of doing the program review to begin with. Look forward to seeing your thoughts on it Pattye.

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