Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Easttown Region III School Board Members Betsy Fadem and Anne Crowley decide not to seek re-election to TESD

As a follow-up to my last post on Tredyffrin Township supervisor candidates and TESD School Board candidates, I have updated information on the two Easttown, Region III positions on the T/E School Board. The two current Region III Board members Betsy Fadem (R) and Anne Crowley (D) are not seeking re-election.

Exceeded in longevity only by Pete Motel, who is in his fourth term on the School Board, Ms. Fadem has decided that three terms on the Board is her limit. Ms. Fadem was elected to the Board in 2001 and 2013 marks her twelfth year in office — she will finish her third term this December. Currently Ms. Fadem chairs the Finance Committee and serves on the Facilities and Policy Committees.

When I asked Ms. Fadem if there was a reason behind her decision not to seek re-election, she responded with the following:

I have decided not to seek re-election for a fourth term as a T/E School Director and will complete twelve years on the Board in December 2013. I believe it is time for a new generation of members to serve.

I am proud of the work and accomplishments of the Board and the District during my tenure and I look forward to other opportunities to serve the community.

The other currently serving Easttown, Region III Board member, Anne Crowley, has also decided not to seek re-election. Ms. Crowley was elected to the Board in 2009 and currently serves on the Policy and Legislative Committees. Behind Ms. Crowley’s decision not to seek a second term on the Board, is the idea of giving others in the community an opportunity to serve.

Since the first of the year, there have been two particularly important votes taken by the Board – the vote to hire former police chief Andy Chambers as the District security expert and the vote to approve a consent agenda that included administrator raises (therefore not allowing for public discussion). In both of these important votes, Ms. Crowley cast a dissenting vote. Lack of Board transparency was her stated reason in both of these votes. Transparency in our government’s actions is very important; thank you Anne for also making it a priority. I would be remiss if I did not also say that Rich Brake, like Ms. Crowley, cast dissenting votes on these two issues, stating lack of transparency as his reason.

There are four Easttown, Region III candidates for the School Board. Doug Carlson, Virginia Lastner and Maryann Piccioni are cross filed, Republican and Democrat and Jean Kim has filed as a Democrat only. The Tredyffrin, Region I candidates for the School Board, incumbent Kevin Buraks (D) and Peter Connors (R) are cross-filed, Republican and Democrat and Tredyffrin, Region II candidates for the Board, incumbent Rich Brake (R) and Scott Dorsey (D) are also cross-filed Republican and Democrat.

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  1. Thank-you for your service Ms. Fadem and Ms. Crowly.

    If school boards are to function with any potential independence, term limits are crucial. School board members are unpaid volunteers. Long meetings and school law issues cause and make it easy for board members to lean heavily on administrators. Board members turn to administrators to “teach them ” how things work increasing control by administrators.

    Citizen committees would go a long way in making sure board members are presented with more than one view. It would potentially alleviate the heavy reliance on school administrators to navigate the public school system, thereby decreasing their control over board members

    Even though I believe term limits are crucial for any potential independent thinking, I am sorry to see Ms. Crowly go. Her dissenting votes on the Andy Chambers matter and the hidden pay raises and bonuses slipped and hidden in a consent agent in the hopes of hiding it from public view and discussion, demonstrate that she is one of the few directors who was a guardian of public interest.

    In casting these votes, she was in service to the citizens of this community, and perhaps these dissenting votes and therefore dissenting views isolated her from her fellow board members.

    We need more citizens like Ms. Crowly to run for office. Citizens who have not forgotten that they represent the people who voted them in.

  2. Not that Mrs. C didn’t do her best on the job, but this token celebration of a vote she and Rich Brake made is totally bogus. The school board policynismthat ANY single board member may request an item to come off the consent agenda and be part of the recommended action. Leaving it on the consent agenda only to make this public plea for transparency is more an a tad disingenuous. Public Lamentations about the inevitability of something you can have a direct influence on…
    And for many, many years TESD had citizen committees. They ultimately fizzled out for lack of dependable attendance. It got to be that the only people,there were board members and assigned administrators, TE then made a greater effort to publicize committee agendas and schedules, do more “Board Talk” on TETV, have a full time public affairs/webmaster newsletter editor to engage a larger constituency. If you are concerned that only admins educate the board, write them, go to committee meetings, do an op Ed piece in the paper. You nailed it: they represent the people who voted them in. They represent them.

  3. Cowardly,

    We can only speculate why Ms. Crowley did not request the item come off the consent agenda. Crowley is a Dem and Brake is a Republican. Chances are, they were not collaborating together on their dissenting votes. They voted on what they thought was right. This was probably difficult for both of them and taking the next step to have it removed from the consent agenda required more courage than they could cobble together at the time. Neither one had party support.

    This is not a token celebration of their vote. It showed they disagreed, they voted what they thought was right and citizens like us are still talking about it so in my view, it serve a good purpose.

    Thanks for keeping this conversation going.

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