Pattye Benson

Community Matters

How can TE School Board approve longevity bonuses to retiring administrators equal to as much as 100% of their salary?

Tomorrow evening (Tuesday, 7:30 PM, TE School District Administrative office) at a special school board meeting, there will be an opportunity for interested parties to voice their opinion on the Valley Forge Elementary School tennis courts, and whether or not to demolish. Tonight Finance Committee will meet at 7 PM, followed by the Budget Workshop II at 7:30 PM at the TE School District Administrative offices. Click here for agenda.

The Budget Workshop II will continue the 2013-14 budget discussion, looking at expenditures and a projection model. I wonder if T/E administrator supplemental retirement bonuses and the potential impact on the budget is part of the discussion. Short answer, I doubt it. When the school board approved the ‘Administrator Compensation Plan’ which was buried in the January consent agenda, it was suggested that the process was “routine” and that any discussion on the bonus and compensation plan was to occur “after” the vote was taken.

Admittedly, in a budget the size of T/E School District, the one-time bonuses paid to the administrators is probably not a big deal – looking at the list below of the administrators and their bonuses, which was included with the School Board’s January agenda materials, the total is around $180K.

Administrators, base salary and one-time bonus, effective July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013:

Adams $130,897 $2,200
Boyle $125,000 $2,087
Capuano $125,000 $2,028
Cataldi $144,000 $2,356
Chipego $163,500 $2,754
Cohle $147,719 $2,486
Demming $143,512 $2,414
Dinkins $152,940 $2,549
Fagan $125,000 $2,080
Gibson $144,000 $2,418
Groppe $125,732 $2,103
Gusick $152,000 $2,513
Hickey $115,481 $1,902
McConnell $176,823 $2,963
Meisinger $151,000 $2,520
Mull $117,283 $1,968
Parker $115,481 $1,849
Phillips $125,000 $2,001
Roy $125,327 $2,063
Tiede $173,070 $2,900
Tobin $155,091 $2,611
Torres $127,003 $2,134
Towle $132,409 $2,225
Whyte $146,676 $2,468
Wills $142,000 $2,190
McDonnell $156,309 $2,623

It is my opinion, that the recently approved compensation plan for the administrators contains something far more costly than $180K one-time bonus, and something that should have been publicly discussed – the ‘Retirement Supplemental Pension’. The newly signed Act 93 Agreement (the Administrator Compensation Plan) of January 29, 2013 to June 30, 2017 supersedes the prior plan that covered 13 years, July 1, 2001 – June 30, 2014.

When the previous administrator compensation plan was signed in 2001, TESD was not facing the dire economic situation and level of cost-cutting measures as is the case in 2013. The District’s multi-million dollar deficit has required the Board to look at making difficult decisions to cut-costs, including outsourcing of support staff, possible demotion of teachers, increase class sizes, etc. We have seen educational programming affected by cost cutting measures — example, the ‘Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools’ (FLES) program is no longer offered nor Latin in the middle school. For the 2013-14 school year, TESD will be the only school district in the state to institute teacher furloughs. All of this to stave off the financial cliff that TESD, like every other school district in Pennsylvania, is facing.

For 13 years the T/E administration compensation plan included longevity incentive bonuses – a so-called ‘Retirement Supplemental Pension’ where administrators receive an additional bonus check when they retire, based on the years they have served as administrators in TESD.

For retiring TESD administrators, you apply the appropriate percentage from the schedule below to the final year’s base salary:

  • at least 5 – but less than 10 years: 45%
  • at least 10 – but less than 15 years: 60%
  • at least 15 – but less than 20 years: 75%
  • at least 20 – but less than 25 years: 90%
  • 25 years or more: 100%

Considering that the former administrator compensation plan covered 13 years (2001-2014), a complete and thorough analysis of the entire agreement, including the ‘Retirement Supplemental Pension’ would have been fiscally responsible. It appears that those individuals affected by the administrator compensation plan are the ones that reviewed the plan and presented it to the Board. The newly signed Administrator Compensation Plan is a 4-year plan covering January 29, 2013 – June 30, 2017. This ‘routine’ consent agenda item contains the same language for the long-term one-time retirement bonus as was contained in the previous plan.

What exactly does the ‘Retirement Supplemental Pension’ mean to the taxpayers of TESD? In researching the 26 administrators named above, how many are in the category that could retire and receive this one-time payment? The District has announced the retirement of Tom Tobin this year as Devon Elementary School principal. If I understand the Retirement Supplement Pension correctly, with 21 years of service as a TESD administration, means that Tobin will receive a one-time payment equal to 90% of his $155K salary or approximately $139,500.

Here’s an interesting example of the Retirement Supplemental Pension … the director of Technology, Robin McConnell, currently has 39 years of service with the District. According to the compensation plan, McConnell will receive a retirement bonus equal to 100% of his salary or $176,823 upon retirement. Many of the 26 administrators have been with the District a long time, which means there could be a number of retirements before the expiration of the new administrator compensation plan in June 2017. It should be clear that the one-time payment of the Retirement Supplemental Pension is in addition to their regular pension.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many companies who pay longevity bonuses at this level anymore; unless perhaps you are president or CEO of the company. It seems astounding to me that the School Board can be considering outsourcing of TENIG workers, going after nonprofit companies for property taxes and instituting teacher furloughs in 2013/14 yet no discussion of the removal of the Retirement Supplemental Pension from the administrator compensation plan. Or, if not removed entirely from the plan, what about a decrease in the percentage received? Why no discussion?

Does the School Board know how many administrators could qualify for this retirement bonus by the expiration of the administrator compensation plan in June 2017? Also, according to Dan Waters contract, he too will receive this one-time bonus when he retires. With his years of service in TESD, he will receive his one-time payment at the 100% level of his salary. Considering the state of the economic situation in this school district, it is incredible that this information was deemed unnecessary for public dialogue. So much for all the discussion that the teachers and TENIG employees need to ‘give back’ to the District. Where was the School Board on the administrators ‘giving back’ when they approved the ‘Retirement Supplemental Pension’ as part of the administration compensation plan? Where do these one-time retirement payments appear on the budget? Where does the money come from to pay for the one-time retirement supplement pension bonus?

Remember, there were no changes made to the levels of this one-time payment in the new plan, and the public was not permitted to discuss the issue until after the vote to approve the administrator compensation plan!

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  1. A few comments
    The one-time bonus mentioned above totals $60K, not $180K as stated in the article above.
    The article states, “it appears that those individuals affected by the administrator compensation plan are the ones that reviewed the plan and presented it to the Board”. Pattye, what evidence do you have to make this accusation of Board mismanagement? If TE functions like most districts, a Board committee reviewed the Act 93 compensation plan. In fact, the school code requires the Board to meet with the Act 93 group to discuss compensation.
    Let’s put the size of the longevity bonus into perspective. Tom Tobin will supposedly receive a $140K bonus upon retirement based on his $155K salary. To make that payment the district would have to put aside $7K each year for 21 years. That’s a small amount when compared to Tom’s base salary of $155K, FICA of $8K, PSERS of $22K, and healthcare of $18K.
    There can be legitimate debate about whether the Act 93 group is correctly compensated and whether they had the appropriate level of “give back”. And we have had that debate on this blog. What I find surprising is the attention given to this one clause in the 22 page contract. The contract has been on the web site for years and the longevity bonus has been there for all to see. The expectation that the Board should anticipate Pattye’s incredulity over the longevity bonus and initiate public discussion is unrealistic.
    Contrary to the article’s assertion, longevity bonuses in the private sector are very common. They come in the form of stock options that vest over a period of years.
    Pattye asked, Where does the money come from to pay for the one-time retirement supplement pension bonus? It comes from the fund balance. If I remember correctly the fund balance is up around $40M and even if every administrator retired tomorrow the payout would be less than $3M.

    1. The expectation that the Board should anticipate Pattye’s incredulity over the longevity bonus and initiate public discussion is unrealistic.

      Wow Keith! Unrealistic that a taxpayer should question a longevity bonus in the administrator compensation plan? Why? I agree that I was slow to read the comp plan, but what difference would it make whether I read it 6 months ago or yesterday? Remember, the comp plan was part of the consent agenda and the public was not permitted discussion until after the vote. I accept that this is a signed comp plan that runs until 2017 and there’s nothing I nor any other taxpayer can do about it. Accept it, don’t accept it — it’s signed, I get it. The problem I have is why is everyone else – the support staff, custodians, teachers supposed to appreciate the economics and ‘give back’. Here are TENIG workers facing outsourcing when employees in the same school district are rewarded with longevity bonuses. Where’s the fairness? In a time when the Board is faced with an increasing budget shortfall, shouldn’t every possible cost-savings be explored?? Wouldn’t that include analyzing the contents of the administrator compensation plan, and possibly asking for some relief from the administrators?

      Question for you Keith — does Unionville Chadds Ford SD have a similar retirement bonus plan to TESD for their administrators? If so, when was the last time it was updated and where any changes made due to the changing economic climate. BTW, I stand corrected that the total according to you of the bonuses is $60K, my mistake.

      I will stand on my assertion re longevity bonuses in the private sector. My husband retired from Unisys in 2011 (upper management) after 40 years, and no way did his retirement package come close to the administrator bonuses. The days of generous stock options and golden parachutes are long gone. I’m not saying that there aren’t some private companies with this kind of retirement plan, but economics has eroded the perks of the ‘good old days’ for many. And let’s not debate the difference between healthcare care benefits in the private sector vs that of public sector employees.

      1. Pattye,
        Let’s discuss longevity bonuses. Did your husband have stock options and what was the vesting period? He may not have gotten a longevity bonus as part of his retirement payout, but I bet he got some nice bonuses aong the way in the form of stock otions, Stock options are common and are used to reward and retain valued employees.
        Yes, UCF has a retirement bonus. It’s less attractive and pays 1% per year of service times the top salary. Thus, after 30 years of service the employee would get 30% of their salary as a bonus.
        UCF forms a personnel committee to review each agreement when it expires. Our current Act 93 agreement expires in June and will be in force for 2 years.
        I’ll address the fairness/giveback issue when I have more time to gather the data.

        1. Thanks Keith. For school districts that are often compared (top performing, test scores, etc.) that certainly is a significant difference in retirement bonues for administrators! An administrator works 25 years in UCF and receives a retirement bonus equal to 25% of their salary vs. an administrator works 25 years in TESD and receives 100% of their salary. Or, the UCF administrator with 10 years receives 10% as a bonus vs. the TESD administrator receiving 60% of their salary as a bonus after 10 years. In UCF, who sits on the personnel committee to review each agreement — would it be the superintendent, personnel administrator and business manager …? (Those affected by the Act 93 agreement) And your new agreement will be for 2 years, June 2013 – June 2015. Has it always been reviewed every 2 years? I ask because it struck me odd that the TESD had an agreement dated 2001 – 2014, 13 years. As for ‘giving back’ in the case of the administrators in TESD — if they were not asked to give back, I would suggest that they would not volunteer it.

        2. Pattye,

          Three UCF board members “negotiate” with representatives from the Act 93 group. The Act 93 group presents their position, the board presents theirs. The three board members usually consult with the business manager on financial issues and the superintendent on work issues. The word “negotiate” is in quotes because there is no requirement to negotiate – the Board can dictate terms because the Act 93 group cannot be unionized. However, to retain employees, it’s best to negotiate.
          There is no set length of the UCF Act 93 contract. It usually runs from one to three years. If one looks closely at the TE contract, it contains the following language, “Based on the Performance Appraisal Record (see Appendix A) the Superintendent of Schools and Board will annually review salaries and provisions for administrative benefits”. Also, the date at the bottom of each page is “November 17, 2008”.

  2. Oh, one more point . Let’s put this one-time payout into perspective another way.
    If you’re surprised by Mr. Tobin’s one time longevity bonus of $140K, think about this – Mr Tobin will receive approximately $120K each year for the rest of his life in pension payments.
    Need a discussion topic? How about the pension problem?

    1. The School Board has little control over the decisions made in Harrisburg but they DID have control over the retirement bonus plan of administrators, in place since at least 2001. I have as much sway in fixing the pension problem as I did in the School Board permitting public discussion of the supplemental retirement bonus in the administrator comp plan.

  3. Pattye
    It is important that you understand the PA provisions regarding compensation. This benefit could not have been taken away unless the admins gave it back. This is not a “generous” giveaway.

    There is significant history to,who tthis came about. But the part you are missing is that these are not longevity bonuses…these are bonuses for not taking sabbaticals…which admins are entitled to by school code at 50% of their pay. The longevity clock restarts if someone takes a sabbatical. So the actual cost of the bonus is underwritten by having the admin do their job. IF they took a sabbatical, not only is it disruptive,,it is expensive. They get half pay, and we pay someone to do their job. They lose no seniority and cost 150% for their job the year they are out. Because of this provision, we don’t have people on the payroll who are not working. There was also a quid pro quo at the time this was developed where the previous plan allowed admins to accumulate sick pay and cash it out. I have not reviewed the current language, bu this change in Ad. Comp ended the unlimited exposure to sick pay being cashed out.

    I would be happy to show you the math, and explain this plan.. .will try to read the current language before I defend this, but I assure you this was a cost saving measure AND eliminated admin sabbaticals, capped sick pay exposure, and virtually assured minimal turnover.

    In essence..sabbatical eligibility after 10 years of service…for a full year or two half years…and must return for a full year after a leave. benefits accrue during sabbatical…prior to,the changto ad comp to this plan, a principal could take a semester off two years in a row, and come back for one year, and then retire, and cash out sick days. And you could take more than one sabbatical during a long career. (Tom Tobin left TESD and spent many years two other districts, so I don’t think he’s the best example as anything he has would have been negotiated when he returned to TESD).

    John hates when I refer to my time on the board, but this one took a long time to research, develop, and implement. And unless my successors have totally screwed up, it was a cost savings, not a generous bonus, but was win-win, and the sick pay was a big part of why it worked. I presume that is still part of it, though no one on the TE board has ever talked to me about how this was analyzed and negotiated.

  4. School Board To Do List

    a. Threaten to Demote Teachers
    b. Cut Custodian Pay 10%
    c. Threaten to Outsource Secretaries
    d. Ask Students to Pay for Parking
    e. Ask Parents to pay for Activity Fee
    f. Cut FLES

    Shared sacrifice – not so much

  5. The administrators bonuses total 60.5K, but there are also “supervisor/confidential employee” bonuses for another 47K. Which gives 108K.

  6. No question, “if you want good people, you have to pay for them”. I know that the comp plan is signed and is in effect until 2017. Per Keith Knauss, in UCF their administration compensation plan is reviewed every couple of years — whereas our last one was in effect for 13 years. UCF’s policy is 1% of the salary as a longevity bonus versus TESD longevity bonus which starts at 45% for 5 years up to 100% for 25 years. With 25 years in TESD, an administrator earns 100% as a retirement bonus whereas an administrator in UCF receives 25% for 25 years of service. Hard to believe that administrators in TESD are that far superior to UCF administrators that it takes this level of incentive to keep them.

    The administrator retirement bonuses are what they are. It’s more about the fact that those at the lower end of the salary spectrum (TENIG) employees are threatened with outsourcing and expected to ‘give back’ to hold on to their jobs whereas there’s no suggestion that the administrators should be ‘giving back’.

  7. Consider yourself lucky in TE.

    In LM for the township management staff gets a 8% longevity bonus and a 8% “deferred comp” bonus – which can be taken as cash with no penalty other than ordinary taxes.

    So that’s a 16% bonus for township management staff every year in LM and nobody can find any evidence of the commissioners ever approving this longstanding and outrageous bonus plan, so the commissioners just formally approved it this year.

    Needless to say the board president is a former township management staff employee and the board VP has a brother on township management staff.

    No recusals on the vote, of course.

  8. I suggest everyone read Andrea’s post above. I glossed over the conditions under which the TE administrators are eligible for the Retirement Supplemental Pension. Here is the key language:
    “the District shall pay the administrator a supplemental pension for the number of consecutive years of PSERS service credited without taking a compensated leave of
    absence for professional development,…
    Most people don’t understand the meaning of “compensated leave of absence for professional development”. It’s the formal language for what was once commonly referred to as a sabbatical leave. I won’t go into the details, but all professional employees (teachers and administrators) are entitled, by law, to a leave of absence for professional development after about 10 years of service. During that leave, the district pays the teacher/administrator half their normal salary, full benefits (PSERS, FICA, healthcare) and tuition.
    The TE contract contains excellent language to accomplish what Andrea said: “I assure you this was a cost saving measure AND eliminated admin sabbaticals, capped sick pay exposure, and virtually assured minimal turnover”.
    As an example, UCF paid our last retiring superintendent a bonus equivalent to a year’s salary to forgo her sabbatical leave.

    1. Thanks Keith. That is precisely what drove us to,develop,this language. When Dr. Foot retired, he was entitled onto a sabbatical and the. Would have had to come back for a year…so TE looked at the overall process and the disruptions from sabbaticals and decided to put it in three contract. The part peopl don’t see if that prior to that, there was a provision to cash out sick days, with no limit. So there were bonuses that were not even called a bonus that could be well in excess of the 100% option, and were uncapped. This became an administrative reward that had zero additional cost exposure to real life and eliminated the uncertainty of an admin leaving twice (split sabbatical) and then returning for just a year. And the money,mwhile not formally accrue because of govt accounting standards, is “designated” in the find balance…at least it was on my watch. I’ll answer any of these questions because this was MY language and I works hard to develop it. I had reams of legal advice on eliminating the sick pay accumulation and how to end that provision legally. I shredded that only recently when I moved away…(thereby making my opinions invalid…)

  9. I think that Andrea and Keith provide good context in support of this bonus-in-lieu-of-sabbatical plan. I imagine that the overall intent of the new agreement was to recognize that administration compensation had been flat for I think three years (while unionized staff had seen substantial increases), rather than to take away earned entitlements.

    In the corporate world I think that such a liability would be accrued in the year it was earned (as Keith implies with his $7K per year) and thus become part of a balance sheet liability like the $8.2 million of “vested employee services” commitment in the General Fund Balance. Then the retirement payment would be taken from that liability and not hit the operating statement as a lump sum. As far as I can tell, TESD (and TT, for that matter) makes these OPEB payments as they are due, while accounting standards require that the liability be recognized, although not funded.

    I have been surprised in the past by retirement bonuses paid in other organizations.

    While I’m here, some things I took away from the Budget Workshop last night:
    – Much lamenting about projected increases in Special Education costs. Indeed, over the last six years a nearly 50% increase, but in the current year management programs appear to be holding the increase under 1%. What will drive the resumption of the trend line? I may have missed it, but I didn’t hear any basic data about the relative impacts of Quantity (number of IEPs, for example) and Price (eg third party tuition costs) that you’d think would be essential to ongoing management of this expense.
    – Similarly medical and prescription costs are projected to rise at 9% a year beyond next year. I think we should expect our management to do more than accept a national trend number. The district is expecting to get updated experience data from the current health plan in the next month or so, and that may inform a more realistic projection.
    – The variance in salary expense between 2012/13 and 2013/14 included a $300,000 decrease from “lack of movement”. The explanation for this was not entirely convincing. As I see it, a decrease would result from the replacement of retiring staff by lower cost new staff, and that would not be offset by any upward movement of retained staff.
    – The TENIG outsourcing analysis is proceeding at a deliberate pace and changes would impact 2014/15 rather than next year. More pressing is the issue regarding aides, paras and substitutes. Apparently recent AHA regulations have clarified that district employees who work 30 hours a week for 10 months a year can not be counted as part time, and therefore must be offered a healthcare plan (which they do not now have) or the district pays a fine. And I think I recall that if just one employee in the class is over the 30 hours, then the total fine ($1.2 million?) is applicable. This apparently would not be true for employees of a contractor, who for some reason would be allowed to average the hours over twelve months (= 25 hours/week = part time). So, the options are, to reduce the hours, to outsource, to provide healthcare, to pay the fine. The administration is to make a recommendation at the next Finance Committee meeting. I imagine that there would be a way to transition current staff to an external provider. Crazy, though.

  10. this whole thing makes me sick. “Longevitiy bonuses”? You have to be kidding me,. With great salaries, and Pension, and healthcare, LONGEVITY BONUSES>? HUH?

    If you want stock options, work somewhere else. Not all privates have stock options. You know, I think I am joining the proletariate SP..Seems like we have a lot of administrators..

    this whole thing is upside down. And yes, need to pay good people value.. but LONGEVITY BONUS? you have to be kidding…

  11. Amazing.

    Even if Andrea’s explanation is correct, this plan was slid into a consent agenda with no discussion.

    Also, Andrea was on the board years ago. We need an up to date explanation. Are you telling me that every admin in the entire state gets this benefit? I don’t believe it.

    Can’t believe we are quick to accept management bonuses, raises, retroactive money, with no discussion while we outsource the lowest employees and just after we had explosive negotiations with the teachers.

    This looks bad.

    Management doesn’t have to give back?

    Another one of several terrible Board decisions. Chambers (are you kidding me?); Tennis Courts(residents should have been notified long ago); Bonuses. What is going on?

    Agree with John. Throw dem bums out.

    1. This is in TEs contract, but sabbaticals are in the school code…and yes, people do not have to give back….this provision replaced a traditional admin benefit of cashing out sick days….which are in the school code.

      You are right to want current board members to explain it…but this is not a bad decision. as I wrote elsewhere, I had hours and multiple legal sources to put this in place and get rid of the sick pay provision. Not a single board member ever asked me for information about it since my departure in 2002. admin health benefits were also tied to all of this, but the board changed them since that time. This is not the same contract…it has not run unchanged since 2001. And when you throw “dem bums out”, do give a moment of thought to who will replace them….and what skills they need to do this extremely demanding and unappreciated job.

  12. FF and anyone else still calling this a longevity bonus doesn’t care about facts….just what they want to rant about.

    THIS is not a longevity bonus. Please read what Imwrote above, and Keith’s further explanation. Just because you a angry doesn’t make your anger valid. This is NOT a giveaway, and if you read the contract and the school code and the PREVIOUS Ad Comp plan, you would know this was a decent outcome. And for the record, this was NOT a plan in place since 2001. It runs for a few years and then new negotiations take place and either a new plan is put in place or the existing plan is extended. You NEVER get to start fresh…ever…because of the nature of compensation under the PA constitution…just like teachers are entitled to STATUS QUO if they don’t agree to a new contract.

    So this indignation is self-righteous because if you are at all interested in accurate information and not just an ignorant analysis (see ignorant meaning unaware, do not know vs. stupid) then you would see that this arrangement is not only okay, it is a good outcome for a multitude of reasons….

    Sigh. Context people. Want to know something stupid??? Conestoga is air conditioned, It is cooled through an antiquated technology called a 2-pipe system, which means you turn off the heat and switch to. Oolong, and vice versa. SO if it is cold one day and hot the next, nothing can be done until you shut down the heating system…which is done at some arbitrary date.

    What does at have to do with this? well, when we renovated and expanded CHS, there was resistance on the board to doing any a/c…but some of us made the case of 2000 students carrying books and 200+ employees should have “modern” conveniences…I.e. normal state of the art working conditions. The only way to get 5 votes to go,forward was to take the cheaper route…which made no sense strategically but was the only option. Now 13 years later, when we have unusual weather patterns and cannot cool/heat the school appropriately (rare), the answer is lame if you don’t know the history…,but tolerable if you do. So please have SOME level of trust that only those NOT on the school board have a clue. These a complicated issues and the solutions are evolutionary, not spontaneous.

    1. So, even though the former administrator compensation agreement states 2001-2014, according to your comment, ” … it runs for a few years and then new negotiations take place and either a new plan is put in place or the existing plan is extended”. OK, so if I understand your explanation, the newly signed agreement, that runs from January 28, 2013 to June 30, 2017 was to have had “negotiations” — when did those negotiations occur and who would have been involved? With the changing economics of the District, wouldn’t the administrator supplemental pension been used in negotiations — similar to how the economy was used in the teacher contract negotiations or with the upcoming TENIG negotiations. I’m just trying to understand the difference between the administrators, teachers and TENIG members when it comes to benefits. Also, would the administrator compensation plan negotiations have included a personnel committee like in UCF (as Keith explained his district does?)

      I don’t recall ever hearing about the negotiations and in reviewing the new agreement, it appears to be basically the same document as the 2001-14 version — certainly the supplemental pension levels is identical in both documents. Were you on the School Board when the original agreement (2001-14) was signed? Thanks Andrea for helping us to understand TESD negotiation process.

      1. Pattye
        Yes…I was chief in orchestrating the document that became this continuing one. There are legal limits on how long you can have this agreement, but you can extend it with amendments. There is typically a small committee that meets with Admins…it is not a negotiation, it is a “meet and discuss.”. These are not collective bargaining rules, which teachers and TENIG fall under. Admins have no contract protections EXCEPT as professional employees who are given the right to return to the classroom and the safety net of the teacher contract. Their Ad Comp plan is protected by the PA constitution…against “demotion”…Keith is certainly more up to speed then I am, and since I don’t live in Tredyffrin anymore,,we all know my thoughts are meaningless…:)

        So…there would not be any public discussion about the Admin Comp talks unless the board chose to make them public. These are professional employees who are paid based on merit, and the supplemental pension is not a bonus except that it is legally treated as one for PSERS and taxing purposes (pensions are not taxable in PA). It is a payment in lieu of a compensated leave that allows the district to plan for retirements in an orderly fashion, and it eliminated the practice of accumulating and cashing out sick days. But to be candid, I would guess few if any on the board know this….which is how Dr.Waters tuition support became (inadvertently) part of his compensation….

        Which is why I beat this dead horse about voting….voters need to demand aptitude not just transparency. And we need to approach the idea of status quo respectfully. TENIG jobs are less secure because they are not professional employees, they are NIG (non instructional group). The district has to ASK them to give back, but may outsource their job functions. Not so with other classes of employees…which have protected jobs…therefore status quo is a baseline.

        Good luck.

    2. If the facts were not kept from the taxpayers, maybe some of us would not be so confused. There was never any public discussion about the administrator plan, it was not allowed. Waters makes the decisions and then tells the SB. The SB buys into whatever Waters wants and then tells the public..

      1. Term limits are the only hope for any independent thinking by board members. The longer a school board member serves, the harder they are to influence.

        1. Shining, SB terms are 4 years, how many terms would you find acceptable. There are 4 openings on the SB this go around. Brake and Buraks are finishing their first term and are seeking reelection. Anne Crowley is calling it quits after 1 term. I think Betsy Fadem is in the third term but will not seek reelection. Pete Motel will remain as the longest serving SB member, in his 4th term. Do you not find an experienced SB member valuable to the Board?

        2. Excellent question. Evaluate incumbant candidates on their past stands on issues. I would give serious consideration to voting for Crowly if she were running again and if she lived in my zone because of her courage and independent thinking regarding her vote on the hidden raises and bonuses slipped in the consent agenda. That action alone tells you she is an independenat thinker, has courage and has a high probability of listening to you with intent if approached for discussion.

        3. I have stated that I believe we need to elect (preferably retired) rational, business/finance people with no children in the classrooms. A numbers person who is not afraid and has the time and the interest to dig deep into the financial bowels of this mess we’re in so he/she can make decisions based on the numbers and not on talk about the necessity of irresponsible tax paid “market driven administrator raises,” (because they will leave if they don’t get these raises) when children’s programs are being cut, teachers are being furloughed and support staff may be outsourced.

          I don’t know the challenger to Mr. Buraks so I’m asking around about his background and credentials. So far, I understand he’s a retired business/finance person with no children in the class room. I will continue to gather information about him and I encourage everyone to do the same. It would be helpful if candidates would post on this forum so we could become familiar with their stands on issues.

          I don’t know Neal and I don’t always agree with him but he seems like a very decent, involved, rational, patient numbers person who respects the opinion of others even when they do not mesh with his own. Had Neal decided to run, I would have offered my support.

      2. You are really disrespecting those who serve on the board. Waters has no power. The board must take recorded votes on every single decision. Dr. Waters works for the board and has earned the respect of boards throughout his time here. Do you believe idealogues or new members with an agenda are more likely to make good decisions? Educated participation is crucial…in contrast to opinionated participation. Learn and grow.

    3. Andrea, I am not really angry at the specific longevity payments. It just strikes me, and maybe its the tenor of these discussions, that I made a mistake by entering the private sector and should have been a teacher or better yet, an administrator. As budgetary concerns abound and the lower end employees are on the block, you can at least see how the perception creates a certain, well, picture that some things philosophically, arent right. And I will tell you I have usually sided with management in my opinions. Unfortunately, because or our general economic times, and reduced taxes coming into the SB, we are forced to look at the expense side of the ledger more closely. WOuld be nice if policies that trickle down (sorry) from the Feds and State would help loosen our financial asthma?

      As an aside, I can remember as a youth, teacher relatives on “sabbatical”. Wonder how that became institutionalized. Well, now I need a sabbatical. thanks for your input. I learn alot from you!

      1. LIKE
        Private sector feels cheated, and public sector doesn’t seem to appreciate the benefits. “Unfunded” pension liability doesn’t exist in the public sector because the taxpayer will pay the bill regardless. The school code provisions were developed at a time when salaries were well below market, but because of the law, the salaries caught up (unions) and the benefits just kept growing. Sabbaticals were to prevent burnout and to help profesisonal development. Benefits were to lure you to the job since the pay was inadequate. And pensions were because you didn’t make enough money to save…and every job had a pension. And the PA State constitution prohibits reduction in prospective pay.
        Sigh.We moved to reduce our cost of living. The idea of retirement isn’t even in the plan. My only frustration (because I don’t think they are overpaid per se) is that the folks in Harrisburg do not untie our hands. Status quo is a fall back position that still benefits the employee.

        1. I understand. and yet sabbaticals are to prevent burnout and provide development gets me.. Summer vacation.. have a good time but remember there are dangers in a summer,…. cant remember who sings that.

          A whole year of enrichment.. I take a day off from my work to take a course for enrichment. Maybe I take a week and get a course in a nice location. (Christmas, Spring break anyone).. would love that paid summer off… and that paid year… hard to change a convention. unions government, got it.

        2. ok ok..sorry pattye for getting off the topic.. you tube the Happenings “see you in september” if you are so inclined. such happy memories of an innocent time gone by.Not sure they make songs like this anymore?? Thanks pattye for the diversion,!!

  13. Agree there needs to be some changes, status quo is no longer acceptable and its not working. For change to occur, (like many have said on this blog) we must make our vote count. Use your vote for change.

    1. We must not only make our vote count and use it for change, we have to take an active role in matters concerning the school district by talking to newly elected officials.

  14. One request: Please learn the rules before you put on the referee shirt and try to call the game. making comments in this forum when you don’t understand what you are talking about is really a disservice to the community.

    Like status quo with teachers, compensation does not involve give backs. Teachers “give back” so they can move from status quo, which means frozen salaries despite the schedule.

    And I would suggest you talk to candidates, not newly elects members….

    1. Whoever controls the perspective, controls the perception. The administrators are the only segment to benefit in these tough financial times. Follow the money. They contol the perspective.

    2. It’s important to talk to candidates but candidates can say anything to get your vote.

      Newly elected officials have not been endoctrinated by administrator perspectives so are more likely to listen early in their first term.

      It is amusing how you tell people what to do, even when they don’t ask.

  15. I hear an incredible amount of whining over what a terrible job the current TE board has done. If anyone is interested in change I suggest the formation of a political action committee (PAC) such as the current West Chester
    The PAC can raise funds, construct a platform, raise awareness through articles, support a candidate, create a web site, speak at public meetings, stand at the polls on election day, etc.
    However, it’s slightly more work than a 10 line post on CM. :)

  16. John asked, “How would you like it if a few from here paid you a visit at your next school board meeting and ask you why you feel the need to constantly opine on board matters here?.

    Everyone is welcome to attend our meetings. However, note that the public comment period is for UCFSD business. Asking why I participate in the CM forum is about as relevant to UCFSD business as asking why I shop at Wegmans rather than Super Fresh. Of course, no one would stop someone from asking or from launching into a verbal attack, but I’m not sure what would be gained. After a decade in the public arena it certainly wouldn’t bother me.

    John said, “As for a PAC, please… That’s not what is needed or required here. This is an off year muni election. Money isn’t what wins these things. People and organizations do.”
    PACs ARE organizations with committed, energized people. Two different PACs have swayed two school board elections in UCF. One PAC was strong enough to have two write-in candidates defeat two Republican endorsed candidates that were on the ballot.

  17. I wish Kevin G would chime in again here…I understand your political analysis John, but the parties do not run the school board. Sharing political registration is all that unites the Rs or the Ds. Votes do not fall on party lines, thank goodness, and each candidate approaches their job with different levels of expertise and experience and interest. Odd that SL is calling for “preferably retired” as people serving with that distinction in the past were often chided for being out of touch. Pat Wood served for 4 or 5 terms and served us all, having been active in the schools and as the Volunteer Coordinator for TESD. Del Tweedy was a “rocket scientist” who lost to a younger candidate who did not yet have students in the schools, and Don Clarke served a few terms and didn’t believe in bond issues, only paying cash. So which of those retired people would you consider most qualified? The fact is, inconvenient as it may be, that John is right that people have to work for change, not just demand it. And what change are you looking for?

    I hear the frustration with the administrative compensation, especially as compared to the TENIG process. But again, it’s the pecking order of qualifications and legal protections. If you go back and review the last go-round with TENIG, you will see that the board chose not to outsource the custodial staff despite savings opportunities. The TENIG contract does not expire for another year, and right now the talks are just setting the table. Is it fair? No. Is fairness a part of life? No.

    Consider this real world scenario: A lawyer outranks a paralegal. A paralegal outranks a secretary. A secretary outranks the receptionist. A receptionist outranks the custodial staff. Payroll is likely to reflect that rank….unless it’s hard to hire someone at one of those levels, and then the market will dictate higher wages.

    I’ll leave the PAC discussion to the rest of you, with a reminder that a local district had a strong organization to support a slate to bring prayer back to schools. They won….and found that was out of their sphere of control. So when you want change, please educate yourself as to the “art of the possible.” And for the political perspective, I’ll remind you again….there is not a long line of qualified people who want this job. And with the sniping from social media, not a long line of people you could convince to bother. Trust the skills, not the agenda.

    1. This is not a business. This is not a law firm. This is a school system funded by the tax payer. We should be considered when decisions are made.

      When businesses and law firms aren’t bringing in enough revenue to make payroll and cover expenses, they consolidate departments, they cut staff (many executives and upper level management people have been let go. (astrazeneca comes to mind) 15,000 by 2014. Businesses don’t have a pile of cash at their disposal to do with what they please.

      This economy demands we elect business/finance people who don’t rubber stamp eveything the administrators tell them.

      The administrators granted themselves raises on the tax payer dime. They hid it from the tax payer. People in the private sector cannot and do not do that.

      1. Shining,
        Again and again you make a grievous error. Administrators cannot “grant themselves raises” no matter how many times you mistakenly say so. Only the school board can do so.

        1. The school board is clearly without a doubt controlled by the administrators. Every decision they make is based on bias information administrators give them.

          Because you say I “make a grievious error” does not make it true. I live here, you do not.

  18. interesting that 40 residents show up for tennis court debate but hardly anyone shows up for board meetings and finance committee meetings.

    Also interesting to note that 47.25% of the posts on this blog come from a former board member who doesn’t live here anymore and a current school board member of another school district. Guess the “experts” have intimidated everyone else.

    Just sayin

    1. TET

      I have thought the same thing many times. Cowardly insults, ridicules and mocks people when they don’t agree with her opinions , then she asks people if their comments try to intimidate people.

      Her decisions got us into this mess and she’ll say anything to justify them.

      Everytime I talk to tax payying citizens aboutt this topic, they are outraged. Someone needs to organize. They would get alot of support.

    2. I just read where Obama is taking a pay cut. Does he make as much money as Waters? Anyway, our president takes a pay cut and our administrators in TE get hefty raises, bonuses and logevity bonuses. Something is wrong here.

      There is nothing board members or past board members can say to justify this. There is no justification for this. And if you don’t think this effects the way the teachers go about there business, you are wrong.

  19. TET — Are you even trying to suggest these contributions intimidate people? Or is it just that people are too lazy to learn….they only want to protest?
    Perhaps we contribute because we know people do not attend meetings, and do not care unless something is in their backyard. My mantra in the old days — let’s move a bus stop so we can get someone to come to our meetings.

    So — at the risk of sounding like pearls before swine…cya.

  20. I’m curious as to what Tom Tobin’s years of service will be when he retires at the end of this year? He left for a number of years to go to Wallingford/Swarthmore and then came back to T/E. I left the district for two years and then came back. I had to start all over with my time in. I seriously doubt that he went back to “Day 1” when he came back. There are two standards in play in this district
    between that haves and have nots.

  21. SupportStaff…ask, don’t wonder. He came back from asst Superintendent at Lower Merion. remember–he is an independent person. He might have negotiated terms to return, but the board would be foolish to extend the retirement benefit beyond exactly what he qualifies for. His PA service never stopped, just district continuous time. But ask.

  22. Keith,

    I’m looking at pages 8 through 16 of the article you submitted this morning titled Hard Times – Not all College Degrees are Created Equal from Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce.

    These pages state detailed unemployment and earnings for college majors with earnings numbers for recent college graduates, experienced college graduates and graduate degree holders.

    When defending salaries and bonuses for administrators, you have said that it should be of no concern because they match what goes on in the private sector.

    A recent college grad in finance makes $44,000, an experienced college finance grad makes $72,000, and a graduate degree holder makes $95,000. Do you know what the business finance administrator makes in the TE school district? More than double the $72,000 salary an experienced college grad makes in the same field.

    The comparisons are the same down the line. An experienced secondary education teacher makes $47,000 according to the article. TE starts at $52,000 to $54,000.

    An experienced chemical engineer makes $94,000. A business economics person makes $77,000. A computer science person makes $81,000. Compare this with the salary of our computer science person.

    And they say we have to grant raises and bonuses to this segment because they will leave if we don’t?

    Compare these earnings on pages 8 through 16 with the salaries Patty posted April 1st.

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