Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Decision Time – Will T/E School Board Directors Vote in Favor of an EIT Voter Referendum Question?

Monday night is a case where I would like to be in two places at once . . .

Tredyffrin’s township finances and the proposed 2012 budget is on the Board of Supervisors agenda at 7:30 PM while the T/E school directors will hold a Finance Committee meeting at 6:30 PM followed by a special school board meeting at 7:30 PM to discuss the EIT. (Both school district meetings will be held in Conestoga HS cafeteria). I will attend the Board of Supervisors meeting and I am counting on my friend Ray Clarke to attend the school district meetings.

In reviewing the agenda for the T/E Finance Committee meeting and the draft minutes from their October 17 meeting, I read the following:

Education Committee Recommendation:

At the prior Finance Committee meeting the Committee was informed that the State reinstated $1.3 million in funding that was not included in the District’s 2011-12 budget. In light of this information, the Committee authorized the Superintendent to restore education program cuts made in the 2011-12 budget. Dr. Richard Gusick presented the proposed reinstatements of budget cuts to the education program and explained that they were already reviewed by the Education The Finance Committee asked that the proposal to reinstate these budget cuts be presented at a future Board meeting.

I am confused. Although I was aware that the State had reinstated $1.3 million in funding to the T/E school district, I was not aware there was a decision as to whether (1) restore the district’s education programming cuts or (2) add the money to the fund balance.

According to these minutes, the Finance Committee (or Education Committee?) authorized the money go to restoring education program cuts. Restoring which programming cuts? Latin in the Middle School? Foreign language in the elementary school? Technology purchases? Specifically, which education program cuts did the committee authorize restored? In addition, are we to assume that the option of adding the $1.3 million to the district’s fund balance is off the table for consideration? These are questions for the school board directors at Monday’s meeting.

I also noted that the Finance Committee meeting minutes indicate that the school district will wait until 2012 to release a RFP for the outsourcing (if needed) of custodial services. It is not clear at this point if custodial outsourcing will be on the budget reduction strategy list.

Immediately following the Finance Committee meeting tomorrow night, the school board will hold a special meeting at 7:30 PM to consider notification to Tredyffrin and Easttown townships of the intent to levy an EIT. November 16 is the deadline for the School Board to provide the townships with notification so the board will be taking a vote at this special meeting. The school board will vote on whether to include EIT as a voter referendum question on the primary election ballot on April 24, 2012. For school districts to levy an EIT requires voter approval. The maximum that TESD could levy is 1%. If approved by voters, all residents, including renters, in Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships would be taxed at 1% on earned income. If an EIT were to be approved, the townships have the legal option to request one-half of the 1% collected by the school district.

Leading up to Election Day, we watched as EIT become the ‘buzz’ word of the local campaign season. Early on, the local Republican Party took a stand against an earned income tax and furthered the issue by labeling the Democrat candidates as EIT supporters. Feeling the pressure, all the Democratic school board candidates responded that ‘they’ were personally opposed to an earned income tax.

The politicizing of the EIT prior to the public presentation of TESD’s tax study group troubled me. The EIT became a political football between the local political parties and in my opinion, damaged the community’s ability to completely understand the EIT as presented by the tax study group. Not to mention the confusion that occurred at the polls on Election Day! Three different precinct judge of elections have reported to me that there were some confused voters — asking where the EIT question was on the ballot. Based on the campaign mailers and political signs, many in the community came to the polls on Election Day expecting to vote on the EIT issue.

Now that we are on the other side of the election, how can newly re-elected school board members Karen Cruikshank (D) and Jim Bruce (R) now vote in favor of taking the EIT issue to the voters. I do not know whether re-elected Easttown school board member Pete Motel (R) made a public statement one way or the other re the EIT. Based on the pre-election political hype of the EIT, the vote count of the school board members will be interesting. Will we see the school board members following the lead of their political parties?

If the school board members vote in favor of an EIT voter referendum question on the April primary ballot, do many of us really think that the residents would vote in favor of this new tax. During the school board budget cut strategy meetings, there were residents asking for tax increases vs. further educational programming cuts.

Faced with the possibility of further programming cuts in the next school district budget, would there be sufficient support from voters for an EIT?

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  1. All interesting questions — but we need to remember that the TSC report is clear that an EIT would not solve the budget problems for the longer term. I’m guessing going into a negotiation that the board will not want to add the community concerns to the bargaining topics — and if there was an EIT primary vote, the teachers would be out in the community looking for support.

    THIS is why I believed the candidates shouldn’t have taken the bait. Jim Bruce has opposed any discussion of an EIT, not related to the party strategy, but Karen C was one of the people seeking new revenue options. Mahoney didn’t run again and is a prime mover on this. See where he can take the board. I’m hoping we’ll see some “deliberations” on this — not just posturing and a show for the public.

    As to the reinstated money — Ipads for the library are my bet. No one — especially the administration — understands the complexity of this budget crisis. We’ll still see them advocating for what we want == not what we need.

    1. Perhaps you have heard Jim Bruce make statements regarding the EIT, however, it is common for board members to express misgivings and then still vote for something. If you look at the minutes of the October 25, 2010 board meeting (available on TESD website), there was a vote to authorize the tax study group – it passed 7-2, with five Republicans voting for it – one of these was incumbent TTRC Region 1 candidate Jim Bruce. Interestingly, the “prime mover” Mahoney voted no on Oct. 25. Not sure why.

      By the logic of the Republican campaign, apparently Jim Bruce too wanted to impose an income tax and also took the first steps to enact an imcome tax. The dishonesty of the Republican campaign is beyond dispute.

      It seems that a factual, rational discussion has been hijacked by the politics of fear. We can only hope that the SB (including newly elected members) can think independently and not be concerned for what any political committee thinks.

      1. To recap, the School Board authorized a Tax Study Group a YEAR AGO but chose to wait until the two months before the election of 4 School Board members to do the Study. Now, some are shocked and outraged that this highly controversial (and very unpopular) issue became part of the political campaign.

        In the TSG’s meetings and presentation, they held a “factual, rational discussion”. However, the basic premise remains – a new, second tax on thousands of working families – one which will not reduce property taxes nor solve the financial challenges of the TESD.

        Frankly, the hand-wringing seems to be coming from those whose dreams of an EIT have been crushed, yet again.

        1. I have taken no position on the EIT. I have no “dreams of an EIT” as you put it. In fact, were it on the ballot I might well vote against it myself.

          The fact that the issue was raised in a political campaign is not what I am objecting to. You miss the point entirely – the problem is the untruthful way it was made part of the campaing. The Republicans could have taken any position they wanted on the EIT and simply left it at that. But they went way beyond that.

          What they did undermines public trust and confidence in the board, and makes collaborative, factual, non-partisan discussions much more difficult. The school board, by law, is supposed to be non-partisan. This has served us well in the past, but the kind of nasty, partisan, untruthful campaigning we saw this time around will make the process more divisive, to the great detriment of us all.

          As I said elsewhere, for partisans, politics is the equivalent of war – and in war, the first casualty is the truth!

        2. I agree that it went too far in this election, on both sides – Rs and Ds. On the EIT issue, I was fine with the R’s yard signs, but their mailers were “over the top”, as were the D’s “Lower Home Values” signs and robocalls.

          My other point is the Board invited the partisanship, by their decision to study this right before the election. Maybe that was exactly what they intended?

        3. Carla,

          Nobody wants to pay more taxes, but to ignore the option of an EIT would be totally irresponsible.

          You missed the point of discussing an EIT. TESD is projecting financial difficulties due to:
          – increases in PSERS and other unfunded mandates
          – declines in property tax revenues from property reassessments
          – reductions in investment income
          – increases in operating costs
          (Salary increases beyond current contracts aren’t even included in the financial projections.)

          TESD’s options are to significantly increase taxes and/or drastically cut school programs. Tax increases can come from property or income – not necessarily both.

          A factual review of the EIT option is worth discussion. An EIT is not designed to reduce your current property taxes – but to offset significant increases in property taxes. Working families with property will see taxes increase one way or another. Do you seriously believe that if an EIT were enacted that TESD would raise property taxes at the same time?

          The TSG’s efforts were critical in starting the discussion and getting the facts out. This doesn’t mean that an EIT will be voted on this year or even next year. The TSG’s purpose was to identify the pro’s and con’s of an EIT. Get the facts. The next steps would include comparing it to other options. Given all the misconceptions out there, it is evident that a considerable amount of education will be needed.

      2. Kevin —

        While it is not so for you and you call it politics, it is real “fear” for many — fear of paying more, not getting more in return and having less in their own homes.

        This is real money and real people you continue to seem to wish to take more money from.

        T/E is well run and done so on a tight budget and, as you have pointed out, spends less and delivers more than other school districts.

        As a parent and taxpayer, I can actually live with losing some programs (I know this is heresy to many) that benefit only a few students to help keep the whole community in a strong fiscal position.

        When I went to TE, we didn’t have all these extras and my education helped me just fine…including getting into a good college, etc.

        There is a difference between a quality education and an education that is filled with bells and whistles. And, yes, my kids benefit from some of the extras, but perhaps they will learn the world isn’t fair if one of those extras is cut. i know this puts me in a vocal minority, but it’s the truth.

        1. I respect your point of view and the way you go about expressing it. This is not about the merits of an EIT – I am expressing concern over the process, and what this kind of campaigning will do to it as time goes on. Your points about the EIT per se are well taken. Others disagree, and they raise some good point as well. I think the issue should be decided by good people like you and others who want to engage in a thougtful debate on the merits. Sadly, I don’t think that is how this will be decided now, after the campaign.

  2. This is a large scale issue that is bigger then any one elected official and any one party.

    Every school board member can say that they represent their constituents, but do they dare sway from their party line? It’s possible, but not typical. Considering their constituents are spread across Republican, Democrats, Independents and non-affiliated residents; following party lines are hardly representative of all. Not to mention that each only directly represent their own section of the school district.

    As a board, they come together to represent all. But there is truly no way to know what the majority of the people want. Therefor in this type of decision, I can only suggest that they allow the voters to distinguish the answer by vote. To claim that people do not want an EIT without this vote would, in my opinion, be a drastically uninformed decision.

    We are not talking about vendors to use, methods of educational delivery and other management decisions. We are talking about methodology of taxation and fundamentally WHO it is collected from and HOW.

  3. Pattye,

    I spoke with a local business owner last week and he said that his company was already being requiered to withhold the EIT from the salary of its workers and put it into escrow in case the tax was enacted. I think he may be confusing the EIT with some other payroll deduction. Do you know if businesses in the School District are already taking the EIT out of employee pay checks?

    1. Companies are required to withhold taxes from employees that reside in jurisdictions with an EIT, not from TE residents. For example, Vanguard withholds it from 5200 of its crew, but not from the 440 that live in TE.

  4. We continue to talk about the EIT as a “new revenue stream” when, it really isn’t except for those who live outside the township and work inside it.

    What the EIT truly represents is a second tax on residents. Even renters pay property taxes (and rising property taxes) through their rent.

    Further, it is an additional tax, not an alternative tax. Those who pay property taxes will pay this in addition to their property tax, not in place of it.

    Finally, there is no guarantee that an EIT will result in lower property taxes; in fact, when it is discussed as nothing more than another revenue stream, it is pretty clear the intent is to spend it along with the property tax.

    And, yes, the EIT is a factor for businesses, etc. in making decisions on whether to settle here; perhaps not the driving factor, but still a factor. In this economic climate, we should not make attracting new businesses even one degree harder.

    Vanguard, in its testimony to the study group, said they would be wary of an EIT without offsetting property tax relief. I can’t imagine what a group like Shire would think as we say we want to keep them here, then add an EIT without offsetting property tax relief.

    1. It is a new revenue stream for those who live in the district and work somewhere else that is collecting the EIT. This is a lot of people.

      It does not cost a business any money. Additionally, there are very few places left in PA to go hat does not have an EIT. East Whiteland has one and they have a huge business district, far greater then Tredyffrin and Easttown

      1. Actually, it does cost businesses money in additional time/effort/cost relating to payroll, reporting, etc.

        Of course, it is small facts like this that have caused so many costs to be borne by small business owners…when the government and those who really want more money say “it doesn’t cost them anything.”

  5. I was at the Tax Study Group meeting for Vanguard’s presentation, and I don’t believe the term “wary” was ever used. In fact, I was surprised that the Vanguard representative said that the company wouldn’t be vehemently opposed to an EIT – since Vanguard pays substantial property taxes and already has the administrative machinery in place to collect EIT, any pressure taken of property tax would be work in their favor.

    1. Go back to the notes. They did not use the word “wary” but were not in strong favor of an EIT without prop tax reduction.

  6. I agree with From the West, an EIT would be a second tax. It is an unfair tax and penalizes working families and renters (and yes, there are many working families who do not currently pay an EIT) and it would be a substantial increase for these families. Let’s be realistic – it is extremely unlikely that property taxes would ever go down with the addition of an EIT. Plus, an EIT would give the local union and the state teacher’s union a barganing chip that we can’t afford going into contract negotiations. Not having an EIT in this school district was definintely a positive factor when we bought our house here. And time to stop blaming the downfall of the EIT on the election – I don’t think it was ever popular here.

  7. TE Parent,
    See my comments above to Carla –
    Yes, an EIT is a second tax and will not reduce your property taxes but it can reduce the expected increase in property taxes — which will be significant if they are the only revenue option pursued to cover the expected future deficits. Again, working families with property will see large future increases in taxes either on property or an EIT.

    An EIT is not necessarily “unfair”. Renters with children currently only pay school taxes indirectly. Working families with children desire excellent schools – that’s why they/we moved here. TESD is projecting large financial deficits. Is it unfair to ask these families to pay for their schools?

    I do agree that this is not the year for an EIT. We need to be fiscally frugal (and fair) in the upcoming union negotiations.

    1. IW —

      The problem is you continue to use words like “can” regarding tax relief.

      Massive spending cuts “can” provide tax relief as well, but they are not going to happen.

      All the EIT is going to do is give government more money to spend — and the teachers’ union more money to strike over.

  8. In October 2010, the T/E School Board held a special Earned Income Tax Information session for the public. There was no vote taken at this meeting as it was solely informational, given by an outside consultant. Following this meeting, at the regularly scheduled T/E School Board meeting on October 25, 2010 there was discussion from the school board members and a vote was taken. Here are the minutes from the October 25, 2010 meeting — hopefully this will help clear up some of the confusion.

    Mrs. Fadem introduced Board discussion by offering three options for consideration: 1) to approve a recommendation to inform the townships of the District’s intent to levy an EIT, 2) to reject the levy of an EIT or 3) to postpone a final decision until November. Following extensive Board discussion, the Board decided not to move forward with an EIT referendum at this time, but instead to determine a process for further study of EIT in 2011.

    Mrs. Fadem moved, then the motion was seconded, that the Board of School Directors determines not to provide notification to the Township Managers of Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships of intent to levy a tax on earned income and earned net profits of School District residents, effective July 1, 2011, and that the Board determines to further study the EIT topic in 2011.

    Upon the call for the question, the motion was approved 7-2.
    Aye: Mrs. Bookstaber, Dr. Brake, Mr. Bruce, Mr. Buraks, Mrs. Cruickshank, Mrs. Fadem and Dr. Motel
    Nay: Mrs. Crowley and Mr. Mahoney

  9. Kevin, the reason non-partisan school board elections “served well in the past” is because in the past, everyone who ran was a Republican. Perhaps if the Republican party in Tredyffrin kept the school board “non-partisan” and entertained the notion of allowing someone who was a registered Democrat to serve on the board, it would not have come to this. Also, you served as a Republican for many years, willingly, knowing that type of behavior went on. So, please spare us your attitude. You used to be part of the problem.

    1. Wrong on several counts –

      I was elected in 1999 as a Democrat, after running an independent campaign on the class size issue. Some of the things that make our schools great (like reducing class size) would not have happened but for independent people running for the board. Also, some of the things that make our district great (upgraded facilities, more mental health and guidance counselors) also depended upon “Republican” school board members who exercised good independent judgment and did what they thought best without regard for what anyone on the TTRC might think. I changed registration so as to not have to spend the money to run a campaign to keep the seat. That did not entail any quid pro quo with the TTRC. All they cared about was whether you had an “R” or a “D” next to your name. At that time running as a Democrat was really not an option – they had no organization or money to offer and it would only have been futile. I did not care about party – I did care about issues, particularly class size. I believed that if I did not keep the seat for at least a second term, the gains in class size would be undone. I did exactly what I came to do, exactly what I said I was going to do.

      Contrary to what some may think, there was never any interference from the committee – no phone calls before important votes, no smoke-filled back rooms – the TTRC folks came around at budget time only and all they wanted to know was are you raising taxes, if so, by how much and please don’t do it. Then we would do it anyway – so much for Republican control. Another way of putting it was they were citizens like everyone else and apart from having an influence in endorsing candidates, once the candidates were on the board, the TTRC did not try to interfere. They migh express opinions like everyone else, but that was it. I had respect for the committee – I thought it was an ethical outfit in those days.

      As for “being part of the problem” I don’t know what you mean. I always told people exactly what I thought and what I wanted to do, and was honest about the implications – for example, when I ran on class size, I acknowledged that that would cost more money, as it would require hiring more teachers (over and above those already needed for enrollment growth) but that I believed it was worth doing. I did not lie. But you are defending exactly that – lies. Are you saying you are OK with that?

      As for “that type of behavior went on” I am not aware of anything like this during the years I was on the board. If there was, I was certainly NOT a part of it. I have been to exactly two TTRC meetings to sit for endorsement, and one or two other meetings in which they invited school board members (three or four of us went) to discuss the budget issues. I had NOTHING to do with the TTRC. I have been to a couple Democratic committee meetings by invitation as well.

      And when I ran (twice with the TTRC’s endorsement) I controlled my own message. I paid for my campaigns too – I think one year the TTRC bought $500 for each candidate worth of signs, and they wanted reimbursement from the candidates, but I refused since I was sending a mailer at my own expense. I would not have tolerated someone putting out something in my name that I though was misleading or that I could not agree with. At the time, I don’t think the committee would have done something like this. There are a lot of good, ethical people (or at least there were) I don’t know what happened, but it is something new, and it has crossed a line.

      By the way, I am not impressed by “anonymous” posters, particularly when they level charges that I “willingly” went along with – what? Apparently “that type of behavior” whatever that is. Your comment falls far short –

    2. In fairness to Kevin and to contradict this response — Kevin was a Democrat when he was elected to the school board. He ran an independent campaign against two endorsed Republicans, Rick Zagol and Andrea Felkins (correct me if I’m wrong Kevin). Kevin won. When he went to run the next time, he switched party registrations to get the endorsement of the only party doing endorsements — the Republicans — so that his campaign was not run indepdently, but with some support. (At that point I believe “kids Count” ran against Kevin in a rather ugly display of partisanship that had nothing to do with parties, just ideology. The Republicans have never had a loyalty oath as part of the vetting process — but I believe have asked candidates for consideration to at least be registered Republican. It’s only in the past few years that Democrats have even had a process for candidates to step up (or be found). Liane Davis was once President of the board and she too was not originally a Republican when she was appointed, but became one when she ran. So enough.

        1. Ah yes — that was Betsy Fadem, Debbie Rollins, Pat Wood and Liane Davis….and the “smaller, more flexible neighborhood schools” and a second high school. That was when the candidates told us Lower Merion should be a model for us — no hindsight second thoughts?

  10. I would be in favor of an EIT if anyone could show me any evidence that it would lead to long-term solvency for the school district. So far, I have seen no evidence at all that would justify the EIT.

    It would serve as a short-term band aid only. As long as the economy is in the doldrums, there will be a revenue problem for most school districts. The directors have a tough job because much of the budget consists of things that are difficult to control – unfunded mandates from the states (where they have no control) and teacher’s contracts, where the control is at a specific point and time but certainly cannot be classified as easy to control.

    I am a parent in the district and I think an EIT would be overwhelmingly voted down at this time. I am in favor of bringing the EIT to a vote however. It will send a very clear message to all parties involved.

  11. Kevin,
    I’ve seen this statement by you twice – “The school board, by law, is supposed to be non-partisan.”
    I’ve never seen this law. Are you referring to the ability of school directors to cross-file? If so, the ability to cross-file doesn’t require or promote non-partisanship. Let’s remember that the candidates appear in the general election under either an R or D heading, and either party can choose to endorse, oppose and/or financially support a candidate.
    It’s interesting that the legislature chose to allow cross filing in school board elections, but not for other local level offices or state level offices. What’s so special about school boards?

    1. The intent, as I understand it, is to promote non – partisan dialouge. But it is a crude and ineffective way to accomplish that goal.I wish the legislature had thought of something better. It is too important to leave to partisan politics – this election cycle is an example of why that is not good. Sure parties are free to endorse and run candidates. There is no mechanism to avoid the usual partisan struggle for control. But too much of it – especially if the truth is distorted – is not good. There are other local boards where the board members used to assassinate each other in letters to the editor, and the boards would turn over from R to D and back again every election – and nothing gets done, while the kids go without and costs escalate.

  12. One comment I started with has generated no response, so I’ll make it again. The $1.3 M restored by the state is being used to fill in the “educational cuts” — including the recommendation of a pilot program for Ipads in the library. The board and the administration just don’t get it, and if you give them a new source of revenue, nothing will contain their exuberance for a “top flight” educaiton — which apparently despite all kinds of data to the contrary does not require just money, but does require discipline and fiscal strategy.

    SO — as the woman earlier who complained that Radnor has a full-day camp and Tredyffrin does not was told here, there are other resources in life than what is given to you at school. Wanting the best for our kids requires tough choices to be made. IF the Board saw fit to cut $1.3M out of our program, there ought to be a NEED — a COMPELLING NEED – and not just an inclination to restore those cuts. Because the money isn’t there next year….and given the strategic failures of negotiations (and I’ll tell you how they have screwed up benefits later in another post), this board and this administration are behaving like children == we want what we want. In this struggling economy, we better only GET what we need. Because at some point, we won’t be able to get even that.

    1. I don’t think that is fair. TE is a top ranked school district for a reason. I don’t think Ipad’s in the library is excessive. Frankly, this is how much of education is going to be delievered in the very near future, at least for many universities who will have no choice but to offer on-line options.

      I don’t understand the logic of not having something because we may or may not be able to afford it next year. The ipads program doesn’t sound like something that costs $1.3m by itself. A lot of other programs have been cut. Some of those may be restored I assume. That is a GOOD thing not a bad thing.

      I am NOT in favor of just raising taxes as the sole answer to the problem (I am against the EIT). However, we need to have some balance. Property values are directly affected by the preceived value of a top ranked school district.

      I agree that everyone needs to share in the sacrifice at this time, including the teachers come contract time. However, we do need to have balance.

      1. That’s an honest statement — and I appreciate it. But if your family had a 25% pay cut, would you expect to do the same things?
        Last night Kevin Mahoney said he felt badly that his kids went through a system that was possibly at its apex — that he feels badly that things are going to go down was the implication. I feel badly too. But it’s a reality. This is not just a bad economy — this is a dangerously bad economy. Ipads are just an example of things that are “nice to have” and not “need to have”. The board cannot raise taxes enough to maintain this program. We can stop pretending the only problem is the PSERS. The problem is the shrinking tax base — because the “bubble” on housing prices was just that — a bubble — and it has popped. Your home value was never what we all pretended it was — and if the “reputation” of the schools is based on superficial things that are not human capital, we cannot keep it up.

        Think of the school board the same way you think of your family. If you lose income, and have no other source of income, you have to cut back. In this case, no matter how much we “cut back”, we have contractual obligations. The $17MM (or whatever it is) deficit into the future cannot be ignored. We can say we hope the state will fix it, and to some extent the state will have to help manage it, but they will not solve it.

        Restoring cuts sounds simple enough, but the projections going forward with huge deficits had those cuts in the base. Restoring $1.3M to the spending only means we are just that much further behind next year. Something has to give. There are HARD choices, and every district is making them. We have a lower tax rate to begin with, so we have a higher wall to climb, because we cannot play catch up. Maybe a referendum for a tax increase is what we all need — to see just what this community will support.

        1. When it comes to prop values, TE has held up very well when compared to others. Much of the “decrease” has been at the very highest end of the market in TE – the over $1million homes. I bought in Jan of 05 for $405k and just refinanced with a value set at $425. I have put $40,000 into the property so I have lost value overall. However, my value over that time frame hasn’t fallen nearly as much as it has for someone in a poorly ranked school district.

          I understand and empathise with people who are making less than they used to make, I am also not saying that no programs should be cut. However, we need to maintain some balance in the approach. Gutting everything but the 3 “r’s” will solve the problem but add to it in the long run.

          Many people purchased properties at inflated values because they got caught up in the specuation and believed their mortgage broker who told them that they could afford an exhorbitant mortage. They had no buffer for when/if things went wrong. I am sorry but I don’t think the burden should be solely on the kids to right that wrong or to take the bullet 100% for the economy. When I hear someone start to talk about what is NEEDED, then my radar goes up. Who decides what is essential and what is not? I think the Ipad program is essential and I am certain that it doesn’t cost a lot of money. Do I make that decision.

          We NEED to have TE maintain a top ranking. That is good for all parties concerned. We all need to share in the sacrifice. Yes, some programs need to be cut. Yes, the teacher’s and admin both need to share the pain as well. This is still a majority wealthy district with the vast majority being gainfully employed. Some tax increase can be born by the majority with includes myself. It has to be reasonable though. Again, shared sacrifice. Having a budget in balance makes sense. However, if the expectation is to have all cuts and absolutely zero increases in taxes, then those people with that expectation will be very disappointed.

  13. Kevin
    Given the difficulties in budgetting going forward, what is your opinion on keeping programs but changing class size policy? Clearly you advocated for it in good times (you mention that “you raised the budget anyway”). Now, do you think returning to previous class size levels, when as I recall the schools were every bit as successful as now across the state, is a budget strategy that should be examined? You seem to have the background on this?

    1. I think class size does matter and I would be very reluctant to let it increase. However, in times like these everything has to be on the table. I would look at all of the options very carefully and try to preserve the strongest possible program overall for the kids. I am glad I am not on the board right now to have to make these choices.

  14. Also, I am against the people who think a tax increase is all that is necessary and that will bring us into a state of fiscal nirvana. It won’t. The EIT will be a short-term band aid. I guess my position of a balanced approach will upset everyone.

    As for going to the state for the pension solvency issue, that just makes me laugh. They are even worse PM’s than the municipalities. There is no money there for that. Serious pension reform needs to happen. The promises cannot be kept unless bond rates increase and equities soar in value. The pensions have been mis-managed for decades and now that has become obvious.

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