Pattye Benson

Community Matters

State Returns $1.3 Million to TESD — Restore Educational Program Cuts or Add to Fund Balance?

In reviewing the summaries of the T/E school board committees, I was interested to learn from the Finance Committee report (below) that almost $1 million is coming back to the fund balance due to lower than expected medical claims. That’s good news!

Also it was confirmed at the Finance Committee meeting, that the state would be returning $1.3 million in funding back to the school district. Now there’s a question for school board candidates — what would you do with the $1.3 million? Would you restore some of the educational programming cuts in the district? If so, which ones? Foreign language in the elementary schools? Maybe Latin in the middle school? Or, would you suggest that the $1.3 million go into the fund balance?

Finance Committee, Chair: Kevin Mahoney
Prepared by: Administrative Liaison

The Finance Committee met on October 17, 2011. The Committee reviewed a draft copy of the District’s 2010-2011 ending fund balances provided by the local auditors. The administration explained how the fund balances are required to be shown as committed, assigned or unassigned on the audited financial statements according to new GASB regulations. The Committee reviewed the fund balance commitments and agreed with the amount shown in the medical stabilization commitment and the fund balance from the athletic fund should be committed. The administration explained that due to lower than expected medical claims spending from the self funded health benefits plan, expenditures would be about $947,000 less than projected resulting in an addition to fund balance.

Next the administration presented the results of the September Treasurer’s report. According to the report the District will be receiving $1.3 million more in State Revenue during the 2011-2012 fiscal year than was originally anticipated and budgeted. All other revenues and expenditures are within the budget amounts. The Committee discussed how the additional State revenue would be used which included possibly reinstating cuts made to the educational program to balance the 2011-2012 budget or using less budgeted fund balance to balance the fiscal year. The administration presented the proposed reinstated budget cuts that they were approved by the Education Committee. The Finance Committee asked that the proposal to reinstate these budget cuts be presented at a future Board meeting.

The Committee also reviewed the budget calendar, paying special attention to the due dates that relate to the Earned Income Tax (EIT) Study Group and discussed how EIT revenue sharing with the Township would work. Finally the Committee reviewed the budget projection model and asked the administration to make a few changes to the assumptions for future review of the model.

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  1. Let’s remember that the 2011-12 budget spends $109M, but only brings in revenue of $107M. Even with the extra $1.3M, TE is still spending more than they bring in. Restoring programs would seem to be irresponsible.
    Even if TE weren’t deficit spending and the extra $1.3M appeared, we’d have to figure out whether it was one-time money or a continuous revenue stream before committing to additional programs. My guess is that the $1.3M was restoration of Basic Education Funding which would make it a continuous revenue stream. Anyone know where the $1.3M came from?

    1. I believe it was the decision to fund the whole FICA / PSERS match. (Not sure which). So it was money that typically was provided, and then the state backed off, and now have restored it.
      IPADS in the library….that’s one thing they are contemplating. No one goes to the meetings, and Kevin Mahoney isn’t running again. “Technology” — keeping up. NO one really understands how to reduce spending — cut a few administrative positions and maybe they would start to believe it. This is where the EIT interest comes from — tax revenue would rise without any tax rate increase….so no more scrutiny.

      1. TR
        ( IPADS) Wouldn’t that fall under Capital Sources & Uses ( 7 YR Plan) .. category #11 is listed as
        IT Capital Plan ( 1.4 million for 2011/12 and 1.4 million for 2012/13……
        TESD use that Bond money for education instead of land aquistion multi-,million dollar maintenance/storage buildings & a proposed parking lot.

    2. TR is right – it was restoration of the previous 50% social security payment payment. I got the sense from a comment from Art McDonnell that the percentage may go down again next year, but don’t hold me to that.

      The district comments listed by Pattye do not reveal the full flavor of a very lively discussion that I think I noted here a while ago. The administration proposal was to spend ~$200K on text books and ~$300K on technology “pilots”. There a few people on the Committee and in the audience looking for a description of the education benefit to justify the cost, so maybe it’s not all as bleak as TR states. The spotlight definitely needs to be maintained, though.

  2. PLEASE restore the middle school recreation program on Saturdays at the middle schools. They used to have open gyms for basketball from 9 am to 1 pm and the kids really enjoyed it. Last year they cut it without warning and the kids showed up to locked doors. This program meant SO much as this age group really needs a place to go in the winter for recreation. The Y’s gyms are rarely open for basketball.

  3. Restore the foreign language program in the elementary schools. How do we expect our kids to compete in a global marketplace without exposing them to foreign language – and the best time in the early years of education to create a life long interest.

    Cutting that program was a disgrace and it didn’t solve the budget problem.

    1. They did not cut the FLES program for budgetary reasons. They cut it for educational reasons. The way the cut was publicized just gave them more bang for the buck — and was the only way to get state approval to furlough the staff.
      The FLES program was not accomplishing what it was intended to — because there is not enough time in the elementary day to produce it effectively. I have shared here before — the state of PA is doing content testing for science in 4th grade. The stakes for fact learning are too high for a school to devote time for something that has no measurable outcome. The programs that make a difference in Foreign Language are immersion programs, not 2 or 3 periods a week. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. If you don’t do it well, the resources should be deployed to a program that delivers effectiveness. The administration was very supportive of the FLEX ideals — but the data of the kids coming through the program were not showing the benefit intended. In an economy where there are fewer resources, you use your money on programs that show clear cost-benefit. FLES was not one. It was not a program worth the time or money.

      If individual familes believe FLES is important, there is nothing to stop them from hiring a spanish or Chinese teacher and offering the foreign language outside of school time — several elementary schools already do that. The cost goes to the parents — not the taxpayers — and they can stay 5 days a week if they choose…..unless they have soccer, or piano, or scouts, or swimming, or homework. ….

  4. How about having the teachers in the high school teach five classes instead of six? My daughter has been trying to meet with her math teacher, but the math teacher has no time to see her because she is teaching all day. My daughter has after school activities and can’t see the teacher then. What is she supposed to do? It is ironic that students now have a mandatory period off per day, but the teachers have NO time to meet with kids. Why isn’t anyone talking about how the educational program is being degraded?

    1. It’s an 8 period day . Do a “right to know” request and ask to see the teacher’s schedule. YOu are being played.

      1. That’s a bogus accusation. Of all the teachers that I know not a single one would “play” a student or a parent as you suggest. Simple math would tell you that if you increase the number of students taught and decrease the time with which to meet separately with them you are bound to have problems.

        A more helpful suggestion would be for bluedog to meet with this particular teacher and see if there is truly a scheduling conflict. And if so, if there were ways around that conflict. Bottom line is the teachers have less availability this year than in years past and there is bound to be difficulties coordinating the teacher’s availability with the student’s availability.

  5. Exactly! I went to the school board debate and was shocked to hear we have cut over 70 teachers yet enrollment has gone up 20%. This is obvious ancedotal evidence of the educational program being degraded.

  6. Here are a few statistics, illustrating the complete picture:

    Teacher compensation, last 3 years, matrix + step: +30%
    Median household income, last decade: Flat
    Assessment tax base, last year: -1%
    Periods per day, high school, 5 to 6: +20%

    When there’s no more money available and price goes up, quantity (# of teachers) has to fall.

  7. Wow…salaries up 30% and they still are lower than other districts as mentioned here before. They did not get a pay raise, they got a pay equalizer.

    1. OMG, pay equalizer. The pay and working conditions for the teachers for the TESD are among the best in the state. The ridiculous benefits and two step salary increases enjoyed by teachers have to stop. That would be a real equalizer, teachers with benefits similar to the taxpayers.

  8. And with these parental comments, perhaps you can start to consider why I believe a student activity fee is the first step to “equalize” our costs. By the way — it’s an 8 period day….8 periods and lunch — so teachers are around. The”inability” to meet with students is part of the strategy to grieve the 6 periods. These are the kinds of little tricks we can all look forward to. Teachers are DONE at the end of the school day — if they stay for activities or coaching, they get paid extra. At our job, do you get paid extra for staying extra (that is, if you are a professional — hourly people clearly get paid by the hour). The kids got a mandatory free period — out of 8 — not cutting a class.
    Grow up parents. The higher the bar, the higher your child must climb. If you aren’t a varsity athlete or taking every single AP available, you can forget a “highly selective college”….so cutting the mandatory number of periods a kid can schedule is actually letting them normalize. And teachers won’t meet with them until they win the grievance. We are being played….by candidates and by the union. Think back to your own high school day — did you take 7 majors? Our kids can. And once some do, others must.

  9. To Michelle – Please supply evidence that TE has cut 70 teachers over the same time period when student population has grown by 20%.
    To bluedog – What is more important? Your daughter’s after school activities or her math understanding? Let’s remember that there are math tutors that a happy to help at your convenience if the teacher is unavailable.
    To dave – TE doesn’t have a monopoly on foreign language education. Band together with like minded parents and retain the services of a foreign language tutor. There’s plenty of time either before or after school.

  10. One more comment about the grievance: teachers have a 7:35 minute day. There was never a guarantee that they would not teach 6 — but there was a tradition to have them teach 5. In an effort to manage our resources,, the work load was increased (it’s called productivity increases) to 6 periods out of 8.

    Our teachers have a 7 hour and 35 minute work day. Read the contract — page 31 ff. That translates to 455 mintues a day. The contract specifies 2,275 minutes per week. There is a promise of a 30 minute duty free lunch each day. There is further a promise of 200-250 minutes per week for “prepartion — which is guaranteed to be duty free and meeting free and no student contact required: , with a promise of 225 minutes in at least 30 minute blocks of time. . So we are at 425 minutes per day less 225 minutes for “preparation.” That averages 45 minutes per day, so we are at 380 minutes per day “for work.” (Granted preparation time is work, but most businesses require prepation for your job to be done to get ready for a day, not during a day).

    SO — 7:35 minute day has officially 6:20 minutes identified for “work.” 6 periods of teaching — we’ll even assign 50 minutes per period (it’s less than that — but those few minutes to change classes aren’t really productive). So — if we teach 6 periods a day, that’s 300 minutes for teaching, or 5 hours in the classroom. No matter how hard I try, I still find 1:20 mintues unassigned. Okay — duty periods? Study hall monitor. IF they win the “grievance” that means they get another 50 minutes not teaching. That’s 2 hours and 10 minutes open. Do you really think they need the cut in teaching time to see your child?
    These are professionals. Do YOU have a work agreement in your college-educated professional job that specifies how each minute can be spent?
    Read the contract. It’s on the website at under personnel. Is teaching 300 minutes a day — 5 hours — so onerous that a teacher cannot find time to meet with your child? I think not. Maybe the next contract will take out the prepration period — and they can do it at home at night like the rest of the world…or stay after 2:30?
    See where the myths come from?

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