Pattye Benson

Community Matters

The School District spins the roulette wheel on outsourcing vendors – What’s going on in TE?

The saga of outsourcing continues in Tredyffrin Easttown School District … Last week at the infamous TE School Board meeting, we listened as the Administration and School Board members presented the case for outsourcing of aides, paraeducators and substitute teacher positions. The business manager Art McDonnell, personnel director Sue Tiede and superintendent Dan Waters provided the background and the reasons for choosing Substitute Teacher Services (STS) as their preferred outsourcing vendor.

At the meeting, I asked McDonnell for the names of the other four outsourcing vendors and he was unable to remember the complete list. I do recall Kelly Services was one option however; the services and fees of the other vendors were not presented to the public. I asked McDonnell if we could assume that STS was the low bidder at a rate of 22.5%. Although McDonnell responded that the District was not required to accept the low bidder because no RFP (Request for Proposal) was required, he did offer that STS was indeed the lowest bidder. McDonnell further stated that the 22.5% was a negotiated rate, down from 34%.

Tiede, McDonnell and Waters repeatedly told audience members that STS would provide a great opportunity for our employees, that they would make more money with the outsourcing company, have the ability to contribute to a 401K, keep their same jobs and on and on. We heard that even though STS was the largest employer of its type in the country, that the District would retain complete control over who worked in our schools and that interviews would be conducted on site, etc. Waters volunteered that an administrative employee of STS would actually have an office in the administration building! In other words, the public sales pitch of STS knew no bounds.

During the District in-service training for aides and paras today, Waters announced that STS is no longer involved in the proposed outsourcing, stating that the company had pulled their proposal. Eight days since the School Board meeting and the preferred outsourcing vendor is no longer a consideration and that replacing STS is CCRES (Chester County Regional Education Services). Why the change … this made no sense to me. Little over a week ago, the Administration led the community to believe that STS was the best fit for the employees and that the company offered the most experience and maximum cost-savings to the District.

Absent any details from the School Board or the District to explain this outsourcing vendor change, I contacted STS and spoke for 45 min. to Jay Godwin, the president of STS. Although Godwin would have liked to work with the TE School District, his decision to remove his outsourcing proposal was two-fold.

The first reason that Godwin offered for withdrawing his proposal was the School Board’s decision to delay the vote on the outsourcing plan until June 17. Godwin did not believe that there is adequate time between June 17, the earliest date that the Board could approve the outsourcing agreement and July 1, the start date of the agreement to meet all the necessary State documentation requirements.

According to Godwin, Pennsylvania state law requires school district employees provide certain documentation, including Act 34 (Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Background Checks), Act 114 (PA Department of Welfare Child Abuse History Clearance) and Act 151 (Child Abuse History Clearance). Unless TESD employees had this required background checks within the last year, all necessary background checks, etc. are required.

When asked, what he thought the adequate time frame to accomplish the necessary ‘paperwork’ to move 175+ employees to an outsourcing plan, his response was 3 months. Had the School Board approved the outsourcing plan at the May 13 meeting, although less than his preferred 3 months time frame, Godwin felt he could accomplish the task. However Godwin was of the opinion that a 2-week turnaround timeline was not possible for his company, STS. He was unwilling to say whether another outsourcing vendor could meet that 2-week requirement.

The second reason for withdrawing the STS outsourcing proposal was based on TE School District resident and employee sentiment. Godwin was overwhelmed by the anti-outsourcing feelings of the public and the employees. Typically, when a school district is considering outsourcing, there is a longer timeline for public discussion. The District plan to outsource the aides and paras took the residents, parents and employees off guard; and was met with swift and immediate opposition. If you couple the short timeline with misinformation and inaccurate budgetary numbers from the District, the reaction should have come as no surprise to the School Board and Administration.

As much as Godwin wanted to be a part of the TE School District, he said that he knew there would be unhappy employees and an unhappy community, and that was something that he did not want for his company. Based on the sentiment of the residents (and employees, many of which are also residents) Godwin is of the opinion that this “is not the time for outsourcing in TE”. Godwin has worked with many school districts and the community’s anti-outsourcing response is the loudest and most significant he has seen in his career.

We discussed the uniqueness of TE School District and the education and background qualifications of our current aides and paraeducators. Godwin acknowledged that the high level of education and commitment of these employees was not typical and would probably not be achievable by an outsourcing company. I do believe that Godwin intended to hire all our current TE School District employees – I think that he truly understood their value and credentials. Personally, I think Godwin feared that he would lose many of our current TE employees if the District outsourced and, may have been concerned whether he could replace them with the same high standard.

Godwin and I discussed how helpful it would have been for the outsourcing company (in this case STS) to meet with the aides and paras before the School Board meeting. Such a meeting would have given the employees an opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, understand the benefits, healthcare, etc. etc. School Board and Administration transparency was discussed, with Godwin agreeing that an issue as important as outsourcing needs all options thoroughly vetted, and discussed in public, as part of the decision-making process. Godwin was forthcoming and extremely willing to answer all my questions — his candor much appreciated.

Based on my conversation with Godwin, I am left with many questions including:

  1. If the School Board approves the outsourcing plan on June 17, how is it possible for any outsourcing company to meet the deadline of July 1?
  2. If STS was the preferred vendor offering the best cost-savings to the District, where was CCRES on the ranking?
  3. How does CCRES propose to complete the necessary background checks, etc. within 2 weeks, should they receive the contract?
  4. The Administration is not meeting with CCRES until tomorrow, when will the aides, paras, substitute teachers be given the proposed plan?
  5. When does the School Board intend to explain that STS, the preferred outsourcing vendor has withdrawn their proposal?
  6. Presumably the fee schedule, cost-savings, benefits change with a new vendor, when is the public given this information?

The taxpayers deserve to know what is going on in this District. Where is the leadership of the School District?

Following the last School Board meeting, I sent two emails to School Board president Kevin Buraks. The emails voiced concern on two topics – my opposition to outsourcing of aides, paras and substitute teachers and the issue of intimidation by the Administration towards the employees of this District. My first email ended with the following, “You must lead … the employees of the District deserve your support, they need your help. It is no longer acceptable for District employees to live in fear of their jobs.”

I closed my second email to our School Board president with, “We need governance, we need leadership. To say nothing and to do nothing is not an acceptable solution.”

For the record, there has been no response from Mr. Buraks. Today is Primary Election Day and Kevin Buraks is on the ballot seeking re-election.

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  1. I commend Mr. Godwin for taking the time to speak with you-and so openly.It is very telling that HE knew the value of our aides/paras while our own employers don’t recognize ( or maybe just don’t acknowledge) their value. I wonder how the district will be able to find another outsourcing company if Mr. Godwin thinks it is unattainable? Pattye Benson, thank you so much for all your time that you devote to our community and keeping us informed. You are priceless.

  2. ADDENDUM to this post:
    Yesterday TE School District resident (and parent) John Petersen sent an email to Dan Waters, Art McDonnell, Sue Tiede and Kevin Buraks. Primarily the email addressed the rights of District employees (who are TESD residents) to speak at School Board meetings in addition to the issue of outsourcing. John has received no response to that email. After reading my latest post, John immediately sent a follow-up email to the same individuals. I was copied on both of the emails with the permission to post them on Community Matters. Below is John’s latest email to the District; the former email will appear on Community Matters tomorrow.


    Just when you think it cannot get worse…

    For the record, given your titles, salaries and job responsibilities, if I had to power, I’d fire you three immediately for cause. The cause being professional incompetence and misconduct.

    In simple terms, STS decided it was better business TO NOT do business with TESD. Their reason is simple in that STS is not of sufficient size to scale to the needs of TESD. Art – as you said, they were the low bidder. That much is clear and given that that STS was an unqualified firm, it is of no surprise they were the lowest bidder.

    In fact – had you constructed an RFP to qualify service providers, a firm like STS would have been disqualified. It may very well have been the case that no local firm would have met the grade.

    For whatever reason, you three have decided that it is OK to sell out educational quality for “lower costs.” I put the latter in quotes because it has not been proven that there would in fact be any net savings at all. FURTHER – matters regarding qualitative factors as to education impacts were never discussed and quantified relative to the alleged hard $’s savings. In short – you failed to perform any sort of due diligence.

    Art – I have to come back to you as business manager. You’re the guy Dan relied on for numbers. To be candid, I wouldn’t let you manage a lemonade stand…much less a $125++ Million enterprise that is the TESD. Dan – for hiring Andy Chambers alone, you should have been fired. No due diligence then, no due diligence now. Sue – I don’t know you at all. From what I’ve seen, you are a follower. If you are following these chaps, that is fire-able offense.

    Our schools and community deserve better.

    And Kevin….as the TESB President, this is all happening under your watch. Do you have any clue as to how much this supports the conclusion that you are incompetent as an elected official, school board director, and in particular, a school board president. It’s hard for me to believe you have kids in the system. I don’t know what responsible parent allows this sort of thing. Hopefully the voters in November will terminate your tenure on the board.

    The four of you likely find this email offensive. I can tell you that there are 100’s of citizens that find your behavior and actions more offensive.

    Pattye – the same rules apply to this email.


    1. Great email John! Can we get the email addresses of the board published here so we can all begin a letter-writing campaign?

      Even if we aren’t as poetic as John, we can send a few words against the plan to outsource.

      Lets hit them with their own methodology: quantity, not quality.

    2. Let’s not be surprised that there is no response to John’s email. There was no question posed that seriously requested further information. Pattye, you need to be fair, just as you demand others to be fair.

        1. You wrote on this blog that John has not received a response to the email you posted. No specific question was asked that warranted a response. John “gave them a talking to”. I feel you insinuated a response should have been sent. It is not fair to expect a response when there was no question.

  3. John you have officially grown on me. Brilliant note and let me tell those 3 1000’s of people in T/E not hundreds are hot and bothered.

  4. Soon, Dan Waters will resign. Next year is his last. But unfortunately he has spent his tenure gathering a crew of sycophants who I doubt have the ability to lead at all. There are so many problems that are coming to a head and a major theme is lack of respect for the staff. Unless you do as Dan says (down to what kind of car you can drive as a Prinicpal), you will never see any position of power. Get out of step and you fall out of Dan’s favor and you are not long for the administration. Dan only wants loyal followers who will do his bidding. I just hope when he leaves we can purge the District – unfortunately, I don’t see that happening.

    1. I really hope that the next superintendent is Rich Gusick. He is super bright and really creative, he knows how to talk to people and communicate ideas effectively, and he has not forgotten what it’s like to be in a classroom and work directly with students. From everything I’ve seen, he would be a great leader, one that would be respected by all levels of the staff and a straight shooter, one that all members of the community could trust.

      1. Tet let’s. Look outside the district too. We need fresh ideas and new creative ways to deal with problems.

      2. I beg to differ a little here he’s part of the bully beat down, a puppet to Sue T and the only one left standing . The first in got chased away and resigned the second is leaving our district in June.

        I say we start totally fresh and bring in some new, fresh, untainted blood.

      3. I’ve worked with Rich Gusick as a lead for a task force of community members. He is open-minded and most importantly, he understands the governance role of an administrator. He is a stand up guy. I urge you to not discredit him because of the fault of others. Rich understands the demands of PA and the demands of our community on the education provided via our schools. From my personal experience, he is a savy people person and I was fortunate to have worked with him.

  5. unfortunately and no matter how the aide issue shakes out the district is going broke. that will be this and previous boards legacy and waters too. next leadership is going to have to deal w this obamacare psers union contracts. administration pay all add up to trouble. im not even sure an eit will generate enough revenue. the state govt deserves credit for this statewide crisis too.

  6. Do you suppose Dan has chosen a successor? Shouldn’t citizens have a say in who replaces him? Many surrounding districts have formed citizen committees for vetting new supts. I think we should too.

    John I suspect your bold and courageous e-mail will go unacknowledged and unanswered. The fact that they have so quickly replaced sts leads me to believe they fully expectbto follow through with this plan in June.

  7. If I had hours of free time — which I do not — I would go back on this blog and look at all of the people who fought against tax increases, fought for the FLES program, fought against activity fee, fought for custodians, fought against outsourcing: And compile a list.

    I would bet this list is all the same. Want everything, don’t want to pay for it. Criticize while offering no solution.

    I will also add another thought to why STS may have withdrawn that may not have come out in a phone conversation. Perhaps because they were getting their name drug through the mud for ruining TESD before they even had a chance to perform. That is a horrible position to be in as a business and I am not surprised they would be more motivated to leave the table.

    1. not true CJ, Citizens are willing to pay. The problem is the bulk of the funding goes to inflated salaries and cadillac heathcare plans for the teachers and administrators. Because people don’t want to pay for this does not mean they don’t want to pay for academic programs for students.

      Many districts have raised taxes time and time again and still have major problems. Raising taxes does not work. If it did, I would be all for it.

      If you go back and look, people who criticize have often offered solutions.

      1. B.

        Just like outsourcing, when the freight train is in front of them, they’ll make a move and not one moment before.

    2. CJ, Solutions WERE offered, the board didn’t want to hear them. Reducing hours, bringing in an ACA expert to figure out the REAL numbers. If people had the notice and were given more time (instead of the board trying to sneak things through) we would have had even more solutions.
      The “list” against outsourcing, activity fee, etc. would probably be the same, I agree. Because it’s the same group of people that are involved (much like your school PTOs, sports teams, etc.) We do want all that we already have and ARE willing to pay for it. What we are NOT willing to pay for is bonuses, golden parachutes, parking lots and all the other crazy things that the board keeps trying to vote on and getting caught because they are not transparent. The board needs to set priorities. They keep saying “childrens needs first” but that’s not what they do. Actions speak louder than words.
      STS was very smart to have pulled out-they in no way would have been able to provide what TESD students need and what parents expect. We have high standards and there is no reason to apologize for that.

    3. “they were getting their name drug through the mud”

      That is how I read their actions too. I think a serious consideration of the tone of things needs to be considered.

      I also agree with pretty much everything else you said. I wouldn’t say facilities (parking lots) are a crazy thing to pay for.

  8. I’m not sure if we have a local psephologist (John?) who can tell us the significance of both Board incumbents running for re-election in Tredyffrin being beaten in the Primary by about 5 points (at the time of writing, combined R and D votes). Probably needs some magic to adjust for turn-out differences between now and November.

    A strong showing by the challengers in any event?

    Maybe this is a message that will get through, as it seems they are having trouble with their email.

    1. Thanks, John. As I see it, Dorsey did a more than decent job by getting 203 R votes – in fact enough to win the night.

      Which maybe sets up an interesting situation for the Board decision on June 17th. Buraks seems to have doubled down on the out-sourcing strategy, reportedly playing a supporting role(!) to Waters in the recent meetings. Support from Fadem, Motel and Bruce seems guaranteed. Key possible swing votes would be Brake and Mercogliano.

      Brake is certainly smart enough to be paying attention to those 200 votes. Will Mercogliano fall in line? Might she be a good target for those seeking both a fair solution in this case and also responsible governance going forward?

  9. If Dan chose to rehire Andy Chambers don’t you think he’s tried to mold his replacement?

    He had a few in line he was grooming. Left standing is Rich G.

    The other two fine individuals well one left a few years ago after a scandal of gossip and not adhering to Dan’s law.
    The other is leaving in June.

    If the board is smart and finally sees what we have seen for years we’ll start fresh and let Dan go with his puppet show.

    1. We’ve lost the best two…I know both personally and that being said, I’m sure they couldn’t stand by and watch what was going on any longer. Both are brilliant, caring men and I think they will be better off in the long run although it’s a loss for TESD parents and students.

  10. “you will do everything to ensure his defeat.” Is it that you don’t like him so much or you think Pete Connors will be better.

    Please tell me how you think Pete Connors will be better. Not saying he won’t be. I’m just not so sure.

  11. Sidelines, maybe what you don’t get, or don’t want to admit, is that a few well place rumors can end someone’s career in this district. You cite “personal reasons”-maybe those reasons were created by the higher ups. The one who is retiring, I don’t care about. Never liked him. The one who took another job-good for him! He’s a smart man, saw what was coming and jumped ship before the s*** hits the fan, so to speak. Where are you going to go for another job if you are given a lousy reccomendation? They stay only until they cannot stand it any longer.

  12. John’s e-mail if nothing else was bold.

    Persuasive letters are proven not to work with this group. Many times, persuasive letters go unacknowledged and unanswered. This group is prepared to outsource a whole segment of employees, some with more education and experience than the people outsourcing them. It is ludicrous. Do you really think they have demonstrated they are interested in listening to any one’s opinion. They clearly are not.

    They served 3 years with a wage freeze and no turnover because their wages are already more than double the national average, they and their families are set and very happy in their life situations, Kids in this district are motivated, driven, smart and have parents supporting them who make sure junior is on the right track.

    I don’t know about principals being bullied or told what car to drive. They could drive whatever car they choose, (maybe that’s why)

  13. Look at the salaries of the administrators — if I was making the kind of money they are making I’d stick around too! As for Delvin Dinkins — wonder if he’s getting TE retirement bonus of a year’s salary before heading off to Episcopal. Don’t get me wrong Dinkins will certainly be missed but to pocket a year’s salary, just sayin’.

    1. I think he will get the retirement bonus as that vote was already passed. It won’t be the 100%, based on the years he’s worked in the district, but it will be a good chunk of change. You’re right Sad, why would they leave-ride it out for as long as you can and get all that $$$.

      1. Why would Delvin not be eligible for the bonus? He’s been here more than 5 years. Does he have to categorize his leaving as “retirement”?

        1. From the Act 93 agreement: “Provided the administrator is retiring from an administrative position under normal PSERS guidelines or disability retirement; has served in an administrative capacity in T/E for at least ten (10) years; submits a binding letter of resignation at least six (6) months prior to the effective retirement date (except in the case of disability retirement) the administrator is eligible for the retirement supplemental pension;”

          It’s a RETIREMENT payment for someone who has not taken the “Compensated leave” (read: sabattical)

    2. Dr. Dinkins, what a sad loss to our district VF Elementary school went to hell and a hand basket after he left.
      Likely had enough of the BS.

  14. im thinking how we in PA will have a public education system like florida and delaware where parents clamor to send their kids to private schools..

  15. It is so obvious by this recent turn of events that, as John so eloquently put it in his email to key members of the school board above that they have decided its “OK to sell out educational quality for “lower costs.” (Although the lower costs are debatable given the “fuzzy math.”)

    Now the board-acclaimed STS (which presented numerous concerns once someone bothered to dig a little deeper) is out and TE gets second best. As Pattye says, when do we get to see the numbers and the plan around this new agency? Based on the lack of due diligence around the plan the first time, ample time for the residents of the district to do their own homework is the least the board can provide.

    Or perhaps, as the, president of STS so astutely realized, now “is not the time for outsourcing in TE.”

    If you agree, please continue to circulate this petition!

  16. Thank you, Pattye, for the information on STS and the reasons they withdrew from the T/E “deal”.
    Interesting that you were able to learn of the details and yet at the PM meeting with paras and aides, all Dan Waters could say was that “STS withdrew”…not explaining details at all. In addition, when an employee challenged him to be totally transparent from this moment on about these issues that affect so many employees, Dan, half-heartedly, said yes there would be more info and email notifications about the situation.
    Sounds to me like he already was avoiding the transparency aspect of the discussion when he couldn’t explain the vital reasons STS gave to you, Patye, regarding their withdrawal.
    Dan did say that part of STS’ decision was due to the tremendous public outcry and “bad press” so to speak AND then he said to the very passionate group of aides and paras…”so don’t go calling CCRES…let us meet with them…don’t call!
    So, do we live in a free society or is BIG BROTHER watching and listening to our phone calls?
    I hope people do, indeed, call CCRES. I read the information on their website and it clearly brings many questions to mind as to how T/E would be the appropriate type of client for this company.
    Thanks, again, Pattye…

    1. In reviewing CCRES website, it was interesting to note that the company offers additional services to school districts including business office organization, security analysis, superintendent searches and temporary staffing services of business administrators and principals.

  17. This kind of stuff really drives me crazy.

    I gave up year-round, perfect weather in Phoenix so my daughter could have what I assumed would be a superior education. Having grown up in Ardmore, and attending Haverford High, I was well aware of the reputation of TE. So, I moved into this township specifically for the schools. It consistently has top scores and ratings yet is affordable compared to Radnor and LM.

    But what i have seen in my 3 years here is very discouraging. I don’t like this school board or this guy Waters at all. I’ve been to SB meetings as well as the safety meeting following Sandy Hook. This SB and Admin come off as sneaky, condescending, and dismissive while at the same time, agenda driven, uninformed and unappreciative. The treatment of the teachers during the contract talks was horrendous. The SB and Admin act like they’re the reason the kids do so well. Uh, its the teachers morons.

    Last week’s meeting was an embarrassment. Deer in the headlights, especially the president Buraks. This is nowhere near what I expected from such a highly regarded district. How long has this style of management been going on? Honestly, they should all be gone, the whole thing.

  18. Not just the teachers. It really helps to have an educated, and engaged population. It is part of what attracts good educators. And makes up part of the reason that more teachers don’t give up and go elsewhere. I think if you check with teachers they truly appreciate working with our kids.

    I think what we are experiencing now is the fruit of Dr Water’s tenure coming to bear. He is a very controlling and domineering individual. He has handpicked admins. Others within the schools have been encouraged to pursue admin certifications only to be set aside when they fall from favor or “align” or get support from the wrong person or someone who has fallen from favor themselves.

    Much of this has been kept from parents. As a parent if you get to Dr Waters – your issue (regardless of merit) will typically be resolved. When it comes to parents, he is very attuned to making sure he looks good. But the staff is entirely different. And admins are very hesitant to make their own decisions (which risks falling out of favor). This kind of toxicity does not happen over night. It sets in after time – old guard move on to be replaced by those who are more pliant.

    These are my observations. I could be somewhat off base but if so not by much. I’ve heard from too many sources and the theme remains the same.

    1. JP,

      School districts around the country are in the same spot we are in. Even if teachers wanted to leave, where would they go?

      You say Dr. Waters has hand picked administrators and that others have been encouraged to pursue administrative certifications only to be set aside when they fall from favor……..

      Is it an unspoken rule that you pursue administrative certification only when you have been tapped by Dan? That would lead me to believe Dan (or supts.) control supply and demand for administrators so therefore have a built in justification for the high salaries that continually go higher.
      And their salaries are such that it makes it nearly impossible to leave. Where could they go to make these salaries in the private sector? So they’re handcuffed.

      I have often wondered why more teachers don’t go for certifications. It never made sense to me.

      1. You are correct that other districts are in similar positions. Accounting for limitations in comparable opportunities for administrators and to a lesser degree teachers will also provide clues to why movement is limited.

        I wouldn’t say there is any rule spoken or unspoken regarding pursuit of certification. People decide to pursue certification mainly of their own accord. What I would say is that once known or even as part of the decision process, encouragement is given. It isn’t always the case. But this District has had a number of well respected individuals become certified and not even considered for any past openings. Point being is that if you don’t pass the Dan test you will not be considered regardless of how the teaching staff and community view your work.

        More teachers don’t go for certification because not everyone wants to be an Admin. If you view it from a salary perspective you would say that it is logical that they would pursue higher pay. But teachers are not motivated primarily by money. Not to suggest that they are entirely altruistic but they also enjoy the art of teaching and working with the kids. As an admin you do a great deal less of that. So if you are a teacher and are decently paid (as ours are) there is less motivation from a financial point.

        These are my opinions based on observations and discussions. I could be wrong but I think I am more right than wrong.

        1. So we do have individuals in the district who are certified, they just don’t pass the Dan test.

          We are told the reason for the high salaries and raises is market driven. There aren’t enough administrators to go around. I knew this wasn’t true. This is an “industry” that has been created by the administration for the administration.

        2. It’s important to not only look at the difference between admin and teacher compensation, but also to look at the work day and work year. Teacher are only required to work 7 hours and 5 minutes each day for 189 days. Administrators work the standard 220 days and spend many nights at meetings and events. Yes, many teachers voluntarily work a longer day and work extra days. So do administrators.
          It’s also important to note that there is an active marketplace for administrators leading to competitive compensation. The compensation is high enough to attract qualified applicants, but not so high that no one ever leaves for a better job. (UCF hired one of TE’s asst principals last year; Downingtown hired one of UCF’s this year)
          In contrast, you’ll find in UCF and TE that teacher vacancies are oversubscribed and movement to other districts is miniscule.

        3. admin. work the standard 220 and spend many nights at meetings and events. So What?

          “There is an active marketplace for administrators leading to competition compensation.” Sweeping broad statement that means nothing. We have certified employees who can’t serve as administrators because they haven’t passed the Dan test.

          There are only two districts around this one that pay (slightly) more than this one pays. I highly, seriously doubt there is a big threat of administrator defection in this district because of their very high salaries and cadillac benefits. If they want to leave, be my guest.

          UCF hired one of TE’s assis principals last year. And did TE hire another one? No

          Movement to other districts is miniscule because there are no jobs in other districts, just like this one, and the pay and benefits are so good, why would they leave?

        4. So what? There is no barrier to administration — it requires certification. People get those credentials on their own initiative….though the district pays for much of it (or at least used to) The “Dan Test” ….is something you are making up. When you have your company, if all your employees want a promotion, they don’t all get it. In fact, most of the administrators that have moved from the classroom were part of an administrative internship program under Marie Slobojan, who was director of instruction in TE for many years (retired). TE developed many admins after doing searches outside the district and finding very little they wanted. It is harder to understand the culture around here than to learn the job…so internal candidates are better suited in many ways. And 220 days vs. 189 days, with considerable difference in hours, accounts for pay differences.
          If you look at the admins in TE, and place them on the teacher schedule, you will see that they need financial incentive to stay in their jobs….and there is nothing wrong with that. But they would not need to take big pay cuts to return to the classroom. And TE did not replace an assistant principal for cost reasons. You cannot complain they are overpaid and then complain when they reduce staffing and combine jobs to save money. There ARE jobs in other districts….aren’t you the one telling us about how other districts have parent/taxpayer search teams for Radnor? UCF’s Superintendent came from another local district. Our HS principal came from another district. It’s a job without tenure unless they return to the classroom.

        5. Please read JP’s post 5 comments above. This district has had a number of well respected people go for administrator certifications only to be passed over when they fall out of favor.

          I have a suggestion. Why not have board members schedule interviews for certified candidates? Let them decide who would and would not be good candidates. Better yet, form citizen committees to help with the vetting process. This way, we increase this labor market pool bringing down salaries that are set at a premium.

          As always Keith, thanks for keeping these conversations going. I always enjoy reiterating excellent points and you always provide comments that allow me to do just that.

  19. My issue is the lack of transparency. Had parents been notified of the budget crisis, we may have been able to find solutions and avoid the outsourcing mess. Parents in this district are SMART. We could have found other solutions, including holding some kind of fundraiser.

    Instead, parents have not been formally notified on the staffing change (sans it being listed on the website). Granted they claim they want to “maintain” the same pool of employees, but that means nothing when outsourcing is in play. Once the outsourcing happens, staffing of aides and para’s is out of TE’s hands.

    Morale continues to be very low at work and decline by the day.

    Pattye, when are the next board meetings?

    1. Finance Meeting June 10th at 7 pm
      School Board Meeting June 17th at 7:30 pm. Both at Conestoga.

    2. Have you been living under a rock? The district has been dealing with a variety of budget crisis for several years. As an Anonymous Angry TE Aide it would seem to me you are only angry and engaged now because it effects YOU. Where have you been for the last several years when it effected the whole district?

  20. Also, we are told by adminstration that parents won’t mind about the outsourcing, so long as their student on an IEP has an aide, per their IEP regulations. This is almost comical, as the TE standards for working as an aide are VERY high. Per current TE standards, ALL aides and para’s are required to have at minimum a bachelor’s degree.

    Most of the aides I know are even BETTER QUALIFIED THAN JUST HAVE A BA, many are certified teachers and/or have a master’s degree (including myself) or above. I don’t know what CCRESS(the purposed vendor) requires. I do know it seems morally unsound to lower standards and lie to parents and say they are being a “comparable” service for their special education student.

    1. The CCRES requirements for a one-on-one aide (from their website)

      “Position requires a Bachelor’s Degree in a human service field or a Bachelor’s Degree in any other field with one year’s paid work experience with children; or an Associate’s Degree / 60 college credits with three year’s paid work experience with children.”

      Quite a bit higher than STS, and so is the pay: $17 -$20 / Per Hour

      1. aides… that is interesting about the hourly rate. While some damage has been done already, and some/many aides will leave, NOW is the time for information about the CCRES company.. When will it come? time is short..

        1. PS if no info abourt CCRES is forthcoming by next week from the district, you all BETTER call CCRES! Sc*@W dan waters….

        2. The info mentioned before is from the CCRES website. From what I can gather they do not have a true pension plan. Medical is about $450/mo for family of 3, but I recommend you check if you qualify for Blue Cross Special Care. Only pay stubs are accepted.
          They key is that the School District decides what we will get paid, supposedly, not CCRES. So expect $13 and not a penny more, even though we all exceed their qualifications. So if they sign with CCRES, just quit TESD and get hired independently – which is exactly what Waters is afraid of. The disadvantage is that you may not end up back in TESD to work (might not anyway, since they will probably have the right of REFUSAL, only, not request).
          Another wrinkle is that if you get vested in PSERS, you can buy the supplemental medical insurance required to go along with Medicare for much less than on your own. An untold bargain, and big reason to keep PSERS.

  21. Yesterday, after our inservice, we were visited by Dan and Sue to “sell” their plan. In a snicker, Dan tells us that STS is now out, so who knows if you all can get “unemployment”-as if to say-ha ha, you screwed yourselves. Are you @#$% kidding? Anyone who is terminated for an outsourcing can get unemployment. So, now T/E will have to pay for it. Ha ha yourself. Besides Dan, that was never a motivation, when will you listen? The major shock, was the incredulous comment that he has been in contact with “Harrisburg” and “no one is working on the PSERS problem”. I kid you not, he really said those exact words-unreal. He asked us not to call the new vendor. Are there no limits to who this man thinks he can control? We don’t earn much (eally, maybe $13/hour), from what I’ve heard few need of us need health insurance. Yes, we want our PSERS benefits to continue-do you blame us? We are the staff that has worked for many years, love our school (the Superintendent, not so much) love the students, and have been a consistent presence in our schools. This is all bordering on the absurd!

    1. One last thing I forgot to share about the inservice, Dan said many Aides feel that they will not come back, but that’s only how you all “feel now”. I’m suddenly reminded of something my father used to say (He was a Corporate Executive for many years). He once told me your problem isn’t the employee who quits and leaves, it’s the employee who quits and stays.

      1. Dan’s had a good run and this management style had always worked for him. The question is will it work this time.

    2. Dan has gotten away with this behavior for so long, he thinks its normal. He’s accustomed to people, including the board, doing exactly as he says. It’s hubris.

      1. Agreed John. The board has ceded much of its responsibility/duty to oversee the district to Dr. Waters. But electing people who have so little understanding of the process and the district adds to that. People tend to defer to people when they do not understand something. To lead, you have to have the first clue about where you are going, and this board has prized secrecy over analysis….too many decisions reached in private with data not properly vetted by the community. That’s on them.

    3. I know that Harrisburg was trying to work on PSERS. Warren Kampf (who is from here) introduced a house bill dealing with the problem, last June. I don’t know how far it’s gotten, but it was in the works.
      It’s House Bill 2453, if anyone wants to read it.

      1. it is my understanding that at least some of the aides get school contribution to PSERS.. so it isn’t a red herring. Maybe small number, but its in there

  22. Most of the people on the school board fear upsetting the apple cart as they have children in the schools.
    When does the power trip end? When we call 20/20 and Dateline? Exposing all of the above and then some?

    Rally the parents of a child an aide touches the lives for on a given day. Ask them about this plan and oh tell them about the new plan because the first idea Art thought of was an epic fail. T/E is really priding on caring about the kids who need it most.

  23. john, you are correct in your assessment. The failure to plan ahead, by this board and previous boards is now coming home to roost. And that includes revenues and expenses. And proper allocation of funds. Yes, you cannot cut your way to prosperity. One of the board members said they have many consituencies, different ones at different meetings. While it is important to listen to the community at large, it seems now that this is a war between constituencies and the most perserverant ones win.. seniors in favor of no tax increases? this is where leadership comes in, and courage to make hard choices. With our federal government running amok, you can see or at least understand why taxes is a tough subject, why there is a lack of trust in more taxes, even locally being fairly attributed. people are fatigued NOW, by all of this, deficits are up across the board and people, right or wrong are fed up with MORE taxes. Not disagreeing with you, as I said above….obviously we will need PSERS help from the state, and relief from perhaps a well intentioned but terribly ill conceived health care mandate. Both are stifling. I wonder NOW, how much of a tax increase will be necessary to make this all work out.. How much is left in any rainy day account? Should we use that? What happens going forward when that is used up? I notice advertisment signs around teamer. very sad that we have to ugly up a nice venue because we need the income.. Your thoughts always appreciated. Where would you go now with these issues, aside from voting out the incumbants? Would an EIT be sufficient to help the budget? what are your ideas?

    1. The tax increase would require voter approval…so an EIT might be the only lasting solution…and a cohesive campaign to enact one would be brutal. Domany of these new candidates support that…on the record…because if you run from the issue as a candidate, it ain’t gonna happen as one of 9msitting at the mic.

    2. Why doesn’t anyone talk about the raises and bonuses that were handed out after a vote that was imbedded in a consent agenda? The admins make more as a group one fifth the size than the aides do. Also don’t forget the promised retirement bonuses, supposedly for staying in this lap of luxury for so many years, that will likely be as big as n entire year of salary. Giving out sweet deals like these are SPENDING problems that if not done would easily make cost savings of the kind proposed unnecessary.
      This is a SCHOOL district and we are talking about taking flesh from the very people that work the closest with the most vulnerable students. What would happen if they all quit and went independently to CCRES, got say $18 to start because of their qualifications, and THEN the district had to go through CRESS to get aides – for 20% or more? I don’t think they would be saying it was a better idea then just to get out of AHC(especially when most of them wouldn’t take it anyway) and PSERS (which at their salary is far less than those who make $100,000 or more).

      1. The administrators applied for jobs as administrators, with salaries and benefits. The aides and paras applied for and have apparently happily worked as aides/paras with low hourly wages and no benefits….isn’t some of this about what people have expected/demanded? The market set the value. It’s the botched outsourcing that has created the “poor us” mentality.

      2. Not sure how it makes your point, John? In your post on 5/23, You suggest necessary tax increases of $1000 per household and therefore an EIT is inevitable. Given that you admit your math is flawed by 10x, the necessary increase would actually be $100 per household.

        Your forecast of the EIT will be like your’s Kampf would not win the Rep nomination in ’10 and would lose in the general in ’10 and ’12. “That said, my forecasts tend to be accurate” Lol!

      3. Jim Bruce sits on the board of CCRES as a director AND gets paid a compensation for his approximately 5 hours a week work for that board. There is definitely a conflict here!
        What is this district thinking???

        1. Bruce has got to go! He is a master community manipulator. I assumed that there was some collusion in all of this. Always watch the quiet one! Others at the IU and buisness managers from county districts have a self interest in CCRES as well! This is filthy dirty!

    3. doubling real estate taxes is going to cause a riot. But I do appreciate your answers to my questions..And it is frightening to consider the hole we are in when you say what will be necessary to dig out.

      PS don;t think Betsy fadem seriously meant cancelling sports… maybe to make a point though…

    4. Here is alternate viewpoint to the one put forth by John.
      There is no doubt that Tredyffrin Township has a large unfunded liability that will come due in the future. I’ll believe John’s estimate that the amount, when divided by the number of households, equates to around $1,500. But this is a one-time expense that can be discharged with a one-time levy of $1,500 per household or a $90 levy (finance charges included) per household each year for 20 years – hardly a scary number. This is not a recurring expense that requires a $1,500 RE tax increase each year forever.
      John also talks about the school district’s loss of $1.5M in tax revenue from reassessments amounting to approximately $1,000 per household. That would be important if TESD didn’t act to control expenses, but they did. Remember, even during the recent economic downturn TE spent more each year and still managed to run a surplus each year. TE may have a leadership problem; they may have a transparency problem, but they don’t have a financial problem.

      1. Keith, sitting board member a Unionville Chadsford is advocating for a one-time-expense for TE taxpayers.

        Please go to

        You will read about how Keith was the ONLY board member that held out for a budget that fell entirely under the Act 1 limit of 1.7%. So while Keith works hard to advocate for increases in our taxes and “one time expenses”, he works hard to keep his own taxes as low as possible in Unionville. Good work Keith!

        I encourage all readers in TE to read about Keith and his views in the Unionville Times paper. There is also space for comment.

      2. As always, Shining Light twists the facts.
        SL says, “ advocating for a one-time-expense for TE taxpayers” and “Keith works hard to advocate for increases in our taxes and “one time expenses”. Not true. Any reasonably intelligent reader can see I’m not advocating for anything; the expense has already been incurred and the township can vote to discharge unfunded liabilities any way they choose.
        SL has finally gotten one thing correct – I do work hard to keep taxes reasonable for UCF taxpayers (under the 1.7% Act 1 Index).

      1. Well Keith, I guess readers can make their own determination based on what you wrote and what is in the Unionville Times paper.

        You are the one who twists words, meanings, and facts in order to further your own agenda.

  24. 1.)
    This is about proper allocation of funds.

    Just because you would properly allocate funds generated from an EIT, does not mean the people makiing decisions would too. Do you really think money coming in from an EIT would go for something like aides and paras? Look where the money goes now. It would be a reflection of what is going on now. We would be in exactly the same boat we are in right now, it would just be a bigger mess.

  25. FF and John
    Where you go has a great deal to do,with who,will take you there…voting is about choices and while I concur that this group is a rudderless boat, I don’t know that any candidates are all,that much better. I get the teaching a lesson by eliminating Buraks, but he is only President because the alternatives were so weak. I am not sure the vetting process brings leaders…like our federal and state governments, we aren’t exactly offered top choices. So let’s not forget that 70% or more residents (is that the number?) have no kids in the schools and those no-EIT signs won their vote and intimidated incumbents. Who will step forward ? I think DC is a mess because we have a President with ideas but no clue how to lead. So who on the ballot will help reorganize the district??? Did Radnor find a new super? Who exactly is this Devil we don’t know? Because analyzing the problem is helpful, but making progress is a whole different process…and anonymous posters here aren’t exactly the way to step up and be counted.

  26. I may be wrong but one of the reasons EIT was shunned even by board was because it was hot during teacher negotiations and that would have supported teachers in push for better deal..
    And yes, EIT where would you go? So true is it that taxes are levied, used for unintended other things and we have a higher tax base with no result.. This is how our governments work now…Where is the waste that could be cut from any government budget? Notice every township from here to philly, nj to ny has road construction. some in perpetual noncompletion…..perpetual major projects.. yes, too that there are no real choices.. Scott dorsey may be one, who else? I would think him an honest man, but not sure he has solutions. Offering to work with someone or a group doesnt equal competence in finding solutions.

    1. FF
      Chiming in on this — about 20 years ago we looked at the options before there were all these rules about how to enact, on an EIT and a PIT….because the data showed that something like65% of wage earners had kids in schools but only 20% of property owners did…

      We FILLED the Conestoga auditorium with people protesting loudly that they would not allow the schools to stick their hands in another pocket…they were done paying for schools and why did we need computers and aides and small classes….property taxes reflected the value of living in the community. Stay away from income. I was shocked, but certainly learned an important lesson.

      So John’s analysis may be interesting, but it is not new information….and unless you all step up from behind your anonymous posts and start sharing this stuff in the community in a public way, these stay the dirty little secrets that blogs navigate, but the general public ignores. Until Tom Tobin retires and Delvin takes a great job at Episcopal, there has been a very stable administrative team in place, so this sudden Waters hating seems to be coming from silent places. (And Delvin personally talked to me about his opportunity and decision, so I have little concern that he has simply seen the light?!)
      Back in the dark ages (2000) we had major opposition to expanding Conestoga — Act 34 hearing filled with lots and lots of protesters — but we were committed to getting it done and had done months of research at alternatives. John loves to complain that I want a gold star, but I was there and I do have some history to contribute to these discussions. In the case of CHS, I actually received a death threat about the project I resigned from the board at the meeting after we got the project approved. And I don’t remember what the public vote was, but the actual board vote was not unanimous…it was a fight the whole way. I have shared here before that it was a fight just getting 5 votes to air condition Conestoga… Being on the board used to be about working for a result — but especially nowadays, the public scrutiny is something many cannot bear. When I tell my stories here, things that actually happened, I get bashed and few if any of you have the first clue who I even am.

      Step up people. You get what you pay for. You cannot save every one and every thing. You cannot even save much. I would have gone another way with the Aides and Paras, but I’m not on the board. And as I said before — the state put in place very strict controls over revenue, but they did not give the boards of this state any power to truly control expenses. So do the little people take the hit? Yep. Teachers cannot be outsourced unless the district basically charters itself– it’s the law and it’s also in their negotiated contract. (which is why distance learning, Delvin’s specialty area, was shut down). Administrators have an agreement that is negotiated and sets a floor each and every time it is renewed. No give backs or take backs. If you recall, Kevin Grewell told us all here a while back about the escalation of Dan Waters compensation based on his performance and the experience of other districts in their Superintendent hires. A then leader of the board was generous on behalf of us all….but it still took 5 votes.
      Learning this stuff requires a lot effort time than just reading minutes and articles. There are contracts available on the district website. There is a PA School Code with all sorts of pieces to it — and all sorts of modifications relating to taxes and compensation (Act 1, Act 93….can’t even remember all of them) . We look to Harrisburg for relief from PSERS…but there is a large and very unfunded pension liability…and the PSERS costs are not even enough to fund the liability. The state legislators already capped the rate of increase so that unless inflation kicks back in, we cannot possibly fund the liability. It’s a giant Ponzi scheme….like social security. It requires current workers paying in to pay pensions, because the taxes don’t cover it.
      So ask the candidates where they stand on EIT and a referendum on raising taxes. Don’t ask what they would cut unless you understand what little influence they can have on cuts. I am deeply discouraged by the approach this board and administration have taken to accomplish this with the aides/paras, but I am also somewhat accepting that they feel very handcuffed by options.
      Any people who run for boards with agendas rarely understand the kind of effort it will take. John says people like him don’t run because they don’t pander — well — if by some unfathomable outcome someone could run telling people they would raise their taxes, it still takes 5 board votes to get it on the ballot, and then it takes the community approving it. Those EIT signs didn’t come with much if ANY explanation….and the board only shunned it after the signs were planted.

      Long road — big hurdles. You know I have moved away…but don’t accept the platitude of responsible government. Demand that your candidates step up and tell their plans. If they don’t have the nerve to tell voters, they won’t be able to get it done. And if they don’t learn the limits of their power, they will simply get discouraged the way Crowley and Bookstaber did. Don’t just look for skills — look for history of running organizations. Community organizers are not the same as leaders. Give it YOUR best shot. Good luck.

      1. andrea, what you say is true about the state limiting revenue and not controling expenses that must be incurred by the districts. It is the definition of insanity. Im wondering if the ultimate answer is the state will come in a bail out the districts. Not sure where they will get the money though. Ponzi scheme exactly. What was the purpose of basically killing school districts? Was it a very strong teachers union? Still, they would have to realize that the store would go broke? Was it a strong senior citizen lobby? It seems the situation is going from dire to hopeless. Does radnor have these problems? are they facing huge deficits with no where to turn except cutting programs and the peripheral costs?

      2. Andrea:

        While I respect your past experiences as a board member it was a long time ago.
        I also work in the district and saw two loyal, hardworking people get moved and told to be silent over a major ordeal.
        I was also passed over for a job I was not only over qualified for to take over. Why? I was friends with the two people who got moved and they hired a friend of a friend who was not qualified to take over the position.

        I saw a good man govern a school and a new principal take over and hide in her office all day.
        Building morale is awful. Teachers can’t talk but if the walls could the town would cringe.

        Many of us can’t speak up we have children in the district and the ones who have spoken up and got caught doing so got a big note to be quiet.
        So stop telling us to to quit hiding and what you think of Dan Waters, or others they aren’t the same.
        This district has changed who is to blame?
        The tax payers for trusting the board to trust the district.
        It’s like a big fat cat chasing a tail.
        If you were to work in the district day in day out and see what we see or hear you’d be up to speed. Since you don’t even live here anymore thanks but we’ll try our best to tell our story.

        1. I don’t get why you work there. Life is not fair. Life is NEVER fair. And you can say you need to remain anonymous to protect your job, but why do you want your job? And if things are this bad, then going public is about the only way to make a difference. I made a rather strong statement to the board and the union before they settled the teachers’ contract. Stand behind your concerns….and talk to a board member privately. I have never hesitated to step up. I am still close to many teachers and administrators. I can’t make a difference — you can. Why don’t you? Trying to tell your story on a blog just doesn’t help anyone or anything. And it poisons the well.

  27. Does anyone know the figure for the deliquent taxes? I know they were trying to collect, sending letters, etc. but I think that was last year and I don’t remember hearing if they collected a good portion of that money or not. At this point, they need to go after those who haven’t paid and get that money.

  28. Delinquent taxes are a non-issue. A lien is placed on any property that is delinquent. There is no question of collecting any delinquent tax plus penalty (9% per year). It’s only a question of when.

  29. It saddens me to hear the Tredyffrin Easttown School District plead poverty. Outsourcing is bad for our Tredyffrin community. Our children will suffer. Our schools will suffer. And dedicated, but vulnerable, employees will suffer. Apart from my being opposed to outsourcing in principle, do we know that it saves that much money over the entire course of its implementation? Do we know the real dollar impact of the ACA and continued pension contributions? It is convenient to place all of the blame elsewhere. Can we trust the numbers? I question the School District’s doom and gloom predictions for the coming years. I know that we sometimes have to plan for the worst and hope for the best. I lost my crystal ball. I look at the facts and choose optimism. I believe that that the economy will continue to improve and the School District’s financial position will also continue to improve over the near and mid-term. The Commonwealth created pension “crisis” will be addressed to no one’s complete satisfaction within the next few years. That will be the best outcome.
    I fear that the School Board will be taking a long-term adverse action to address a short-term issue. What about in-depth analyses and understandable math for an honest, open look at the outsourcing issue? What about the reserve? The reserve exists in part to help in difficult times. Are we being resourceful and creative? After all, this is Tredyffrin Township. Can all parties say that they have creatively explored all options and ideas to avoid the unwanted outsourcing?
    It’s all about what’s best for the children of Tredyffrin. Outsourcing is not the answer.

    1. I was at the last School Board meeting and the only candidate to speak out against outsourcing was Scott Dorsey. Actually I don’t know if the Easttown candidates even attended. I get the sense from Mr. Dorsey that is a man who owns his words. He doesn’t appear to be a political party person like so many of these candidates. That is a criticism of both the Rs and the Ds.

    2. John,
      You’re not happy unless you’re pronouncing some public official completely incompetent, a liar, or (your personal favorite, an “idiot”). Candidates’ motivations are always suspect. There’s hardly a worthwhile human being to be found, by your account.

      New readers on CM who are agreeing with your take on the outsourcing fiasco probably have no idea how often you’ve waged personal attacks on just about every regular commenter on this blog. They never laid eyes on your unfiltered “political notebook.” They don’t know that you dominate this blog under different pseudonyms, that you dash off rude, incendiary letters filled with dire predictions, insults and threats. It seems you never regret anything you say.

      As a committed and active member of the TTDEMS, I am particularly incensed by your frequent attacks on our party and our candidates. You’ve done nothing but send numerous insult-filled emails to me and other members of my party.

      So BOS candidate Murph Wysocki didn’t meet your timeline for commenting on a school board matter? Who made you the royal timekeeper? Party members may publicly express their opposition AND speak to SB members privately. The goal is to persuade them to be transparent in vetting CCRES, listen to parents, district employees and concerned residents, and to put off making a time-pressured decision that will negatively affect the children of T/E. Clearly, a school district that can afford to give bonuses and raises to the highest paid employees, spend hundreds of thousands on protective film for some school windows and doors, and has one of the highest reserve funds of any district in the state — can value and preserve the essential relationship between students and those who work one on one with them. I understand there’d a mind meld on pension funding, but a school board committed to meeting this obligation doesn’t refuse to apply for exceptions.

      And John, despite your certainty, past is not prologue. A single-minded focus on cutting costs that lowers the quality of life in our community will drive people to the polls. The 2013 Republican platform calls for continuing to cut, cut, cut to balance budgets and opposes any application for exceptions by the school board. I know many, many people who strongly disagree.

      1. Kate,

        What a candidate says, and when they say it, matters. I also found Mr. Murph’s post to ring hollow, shallow and disingenuous. Why not come out with this position weeks ago?

        Then you say, “a school district that can afford to give bonuses and raises to the highest paid employees…………Kate, we can’t afford it! I know many, many, many people who agree with me.

        Now you say you want the school board to apply for exceptions? So we can keep paying Ms.Teide $173,070 and Mr. McConnell (who is this guy anyway and what does he do?) $176,823 (these salaries exclude their bonuses) No Kate, no. The governor of New Jersey, Chris Christy makes less at $175,000. And I know him and I know what he does. This is ridiculous.

        Pete Connors – I’m going to hold my nose and support your candidacy. What can I do?

    3. Outsourcing is not the way I would go, but let’s please stop saying “our kids will suffer.” The job as it is now only pays $12 an hour, and it somehow has attracted these phenomenally qualified and dedicated employees. Of the alleged 175 people in these jobs, how many do it for the money? SO — if the money isn’t the reason, how is a different name on their paycheck going to alter their jobs….except that we have joined forces to say our kids will suffer.

      I appreciate your comments Kate, that not posting here does not mean people have not spoken privately. And when I say privately, I mean ‘not anonymously.’.

      But I’ll say again — stop with the TTDEMS and the TTREPs….talk to the candidates themselves. The parties clearly have no influence over serving members — otherwise John would not be so focused on blaming the Dems for Buraks. You want to consider people who have a history of good judgment….and the willingness to listen and debate publicly. People who have done their homework to run, not just been solicited by the party. Once they are on the board, they are ONE vote. It takes 5 and those votes don’t fall along party lines…nor should they.

      Candidates often have coffees. Host one or go to one. TALK TO THE CANDIDATES. Make your judgment completely personal. If they won’t talk to you when they want your vote, they surely will continue to ignore you when they are on the board.

  30. Please go to:

    This article talks about increasing school costs, including pay packages for supts. that put strain on tax payers and school budgets.

    “Superintendent pay deserves an extra level of public scrutiny,” says The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which monitors fiscal issues

    One of the highest paid governors in the country, PA’s governor, makes $186,256.

    We know Dr. Waters’ salary far exceeds this salary but for perspective, Ms. Tiede’s salary comes very close at $173,070, not to mention Mr. Robin McConnell at 176,823.

    Administrators across the country are “agreeing” to pay cuts. Ours are agreeing to pay increases while they work to outsource employees in the lowest wage earning segment.

    1. SL — EXCELLENT information.
      With the PA plans to regulate administrative pay, this will finally get under control…but watch the wild retirement exodus when that happens state-wide.
      And the hardest part of these bloated salaries is that each year they are around, they earn another 2.5% of that salary as pension….and that is on the state taxpayers, not just our own. I don’t know how many service credits those 3 have, but I’m guessing they will all get about 100% pensions…which is why they get 2.5% raises if they have a wage freeze…….but this board has NEVER understood that. Just one year of service for these 3 adds $16,500 to the pension liability of the state……and THAT is irresponsible.
      By the way — it’s true of teachers too….PSERS is simply a flawed system in today’s economy. 2.5% of your 3 highest years for each year worked…and rarely do employees even understand that (which is why the PSEA negotiates raises for teachers, ignoring the fact that the cost of the salary is far beyond the salary number).

      So — go to Harrisburg. That’s the only fix.

    2. :) :) :) Keith,

      As a sitting school board member talking to a tax paying citizen, I am still surprised at the undignified way in which you present yourself.

      Please read the above 2 posts and go to the fox business superintendent pay article I provide.

      In it The Mackinac Center for Public Policy supports the information that I shared which you so rudely mocked and ridiculed:

      “Superintendent pay deserves an extra level of public scrutiny” It also supports the many other facts referenced in my post. I know how much you like data to support facts even though claims you make, when checked, are half truths and maybe right a little bit. Please take another look

      I also still like the article you provided for readers last November. The one from the Milton Friedman Foundation talking about administrator Bloat in the public school system in this country.

  31. Thanks sidelines. I know what a compliment that is coming from you.

    I’m surprised to hear you call them bloated salaries but that is exactly what they are and the fact that they granted themselves or were granted raises and salaries and bonuses on top of these already bloated salaries is not only wrong, it is shameful. The board should sit down with each and every one of them as soon as possible and the administrators should “agree” to give back these raises in recognition of this tough economic time all tax payers find themselves.

    The information you provide on the hardest part of the bloated salaries makes me cringe and is all the more reason we have to stop this now. Such irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars is indefensible.

    I noted in the article, it said, “School superintendents, too are supported by a ballooning staff of school administrators.” There is a system in place that supports the system in place.

  32. If CCRES will pay $17 or more per hour, why not let them stay at $13 with PSERS and health insurance-most of this group says they don’t need health insurance. Common sense here?

    1. Dan Waters told the aides not call CCRES, because ‘they will try to hire you’. That is his biggest fear. STS paid less than TESD; CCRES pays 30-50% MORE. Even with a 12.5% deduction for PSERS benefit, that is still >20-40% more than they are getting now. (PSERS is a deduction from the hourly pay of $12.95, not an addition of 7.5%, and it is only partially canceled out by the matching 12.5% PSERS pays.) If all the aides quit and went to work independently for CCRS, with their qualifications they should get more than the minimum $17, and the school district would then be in the position of hiring the aides through CCRES for say $19/hour PLUS the commission of say, 22%,( unless they went with the GED-qualifying aides from STS.) That would cost a lot more than keeping them and giving the few that want it healthcare and maintaining their PSERS benefits.
      The district may work out some agreement with CCRES for our highly-qualified TESD aides to get less pay than other less-qualified aides for the same work. What then? The only benefit then would be to work with their students in the schools they are familiar with. WATCH OUT and make them let you read the contract before they sign anything. And don’t sign anything for the district saying you will come back if you do not know what the wages and benefits will be, in case there is some penalty for not coming back. Providing of course that the outsourcing actually happens.
      It is obvious that the aides are 20-40% underpaid already, can the administration say that when they make more than most of the governors in the United States?

      1. The budget is $X. If the cost goes up, there willbe fewer people hired. Keep a good job, lose a great one.

      2. The PSERS cost on the employer side next year is over 20%. The 7.5% is the employee contribution. The state typically reimburses half the employer portion. The aidesby definition are not underpaid, as they are working at a job they choose at a rate they accepted. They are free to quit at any time–no contract.
        Is CCRES operated by the IU?

        1. A simple web search will find the CCRES website – they are independent company – not operated by the IU.

          Maybe the aides at TESD will take your advice and quit to get the wages offered by CCRES which are $17-20 for the same job, with less qualification required. The aides at TESD now make less than $13. The math says this rate is $20-50% less than CCRES (industry standard).

          Then, TESD can rehire them with a 20% commission to CCRES on top of the wages. If that happens it would have been cheaper to give them a 10% raise to keep them, including PSERS, since less than 20% would probably take a minimal healthcare plan. To restate, if your individual yearly income is less than $22,900, you can qualify for Blue Cross Special Care.

          INCIDENTALLY A SEARCH OF THE PSERS SITE SAYS THE PSERS CONTRIBUTION IN 2013-2014 IS 16.9%, AND THE EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTION IS 7.43%(average). THETOTAL EMPLOYER projected NUMBER DOES NOT GO OVER 20% UNTIL 2014-2015 AND THAT INCLUDES HEALTHCARE WHICH THE AIDES DO NOT GET. You are correct in pointing out that “Non-school entities and the Commonwealth each contribute one-half of the total employer rate.” So the District contribution is really only 8.5% for next year.

  33. I have just learned that the superintendent profession in New Jersey has been “turned on it’s head.” Christy set tough limits on school administrator salaries. Salaries top out at $175,000 (Christy’s salary) with districts that exceed 10,000 students allowed to go over this amount with a waiver approved by the commissioner.

    Of course this has created mass turnover in the state with many of these supt. migrating to PA where we have no such caps.

    The cap has been challenged many times by administrators and supts. but Christy is showing no signs that he will amend the cap.

    If interested read:
    NJSPOTLIGHT where issues matter
    School Superintendents Try Once More to Overturn Cap on Pay

  34. Aides person

    Your info on PSERS is not accurate…which is why this is all more about perception tha reality…the 16% number you reference is for employees hired since Act 120.

    SL–PA is proposing something similar, but capping pensions, which is why you will see a similar,exodus in this state.

      1. Exodus only means they get a new admin job in the new state, and after 5-10 years, collect another round of bonuses, raises, fat retirement checks and retirement bonuses. It is called double-dipping and should be capped at a reasonable level. One golden parachute should be enough for anybody. And if they don’t know what to do with that second lifetime medical benefit, I am sure there are some aides out there that would gladly take it.

        1. seems like the fiance committee meeting will be the nuts and bolts for this decision. The board meeting a week later will be a rubber stamp for decisions/recommendations made at finance. hopefully a salient argument will be made at finance for alternatives to outsourcing. Also, WHEN does outsourcing info become available to the public? Timing will be important, and could involve subterfuge with this governing body.
          Need in writing what the outsourcing contract will look like in order to make an informed decision. I don’t feel good about any of this, and my feeling is the school district won’t feel good about the panic to staff new aides in september. Hope cooler heads prevail and with proper info, which we have none of now, a good decision can be worked out for all. Perhaps a one year moratorium should be placed on this decision to have time to sort all this out. Yes, the school board and administration are clearly responsible for the tumult THEY created, so maybe a step to the side, much like the tabling of decision at last meeting but on a larger scale would be appropriate.

        2. We can’t control what other districts do. We can control what our does — We should take Chris Christy’s lead and cap the district supt. pay at $186,000 (the salary of the governor of PA–the highest in the country) This would not only save a bundle on this one salary alone, it would surely bring the others in line as well.

          Is it not absurd that administrators earn higher wages than many governors in this country? Especially when they are working to outsource an entire segment that make $12.00 an hour and who actually add value to our district because they work one on one with not only special needs but all kids in the school system.

          In times of financial hardship, many CEO’s and leaders have not only given up salary increases, they take pay cuts. We can’t cut student programs, institute activity fees to students, try and squeeze tax dollars from non proifits, and ask teachers to take furloughs when we completely ignore the inflated salaries of administrators while also granting them raises and bonuses.

          Giving back these salary increases would set the right example, and would show willingness to do the right thing.

  35. Teachers support the aides and paraprofessionals, but we are just as afraid as they are of speaking up. Can you imagine, we teach students to speak up, but we are in fear for our jobs. I know that administrators try to figure out who is writing on this blog, but at this point I do not care.

    I ask the community to get involved in the schools and find out what is going on. School has become a dismal place for the staff. Overworked, fearful, no communication. And still most of us bring enthusiasm and positiveness to school everyday.

    Thank God for this blog reporting what is going on. I notice the Suburban almost completely ignores any controversy. Are they in the District pocket?

    1. if you support aides and paraeducators, then make your voices heard. If AFRAID of bully administrators, then sign a petition” TEACHERS of TE”.. think your union would allow that? twists and turns.. stick up for the little guy!

  36. By the way, just saw next year’s calendar. I am so angry that we agreed to four half day furlough days next year. (this means we are not paid for these days) I voted for this, then found out that the District had an extra $4million sitting around, and had enough money to give administrators bonuses and back pay for raises. Does the community know that we are taking these no pay days? Are any other teachers taking furlough days in other districts. I don’t think so.
    How can we believe anything the board or the district administrators say? I don’t think we will make that mistake again.

    1. Don’t believe what you hear from the administration — because the story changes daily! The administration is changing their story to suit the audience and pitting one group against another is classic.

  37. “most of us bring enthusiasm and positiveness to school everyday”

    Wow – admitting that you resent furlough days….and doing it with such “positiveness”….. TWO DAYS PAY….and still fighting the district to prevent online learning and teaching more than 5 periods at the high school out of 8. Afraid for your tenured job?

      1. Not cynical…realistic. TE is not a world into itself. The US economy is brutal, and teachers simply have no apparent understanding/appreciation for tenure, virtually free health care, and a pension that typically provides at least 75% of your pre-retirement income free of PA taxes (30 years of service…). Plus social security (in PA anyway). Everyone works hard. Teachers are not exclusive in that claim. But teachers collectively bargain,,so the best among you get no more than the worst among you.

        I moved to downsize our expenses. I have family and friends that are barely holding on…and outside teachers and government workers, with jobs paid for by a tax paying public, it is hard to realistically put a timeframe on retirement, because there is no guaranteed income once you stop working outside of SS…

        Life is not fair. And I read here about what a horrible job you have, and I can only ask why you stay? I remember a teacher back in middle school that complained to me that his friends in industry could play golf on Fridays while he worked. I reminded him he could get a 3:30 tee time every day…or he could change jobs. And he does get 70 days off (working 190 days) plus weekends. Oh–he is 2 years older than I am…he’s been retired for several years.

        So I just find that when you spend your time measuring what you have by what others have — it is a victimless crime… I don’t begrudge teachers what they earn. I am annoyed that few (on this blog anyway) seem to understand the complexities of the tax laws, the eroding tax base, and that they teach (or work for TESD as aides//paras/custodians) by choice. I stepped forward several years back to expose the board for overpaying some members of the admin. Dr.Waters has not taken a raise or bonus since that declaration. There were board members who were incensed that I did an RTK to analyze every single salary. They sent me a bill and would not provide electronic copies. I made it clear– no one makes too much, but the board does PAY too much in some cases.

        I left the board in 2002. In place at that time was a defined benefit plan for administrators, and a 6 year contract with 3 years of wages based on parameters for teachers. We had explored a defined benefit for teachers and were heading that way.

        So…ask Betsy Fadem or Pete Motel why all of that changed. What did either group give to undo those parts of the working conditions? Or ask Kevin Mahoney why he chose to give Dr. Waters a benefit reserved for tenured physicians at the Hosp of Univ of PA? And did he realize he could not terminate the benefit once it was given?

        My consistent concern on this blog since I began posting is the voting public being uninformed…by intention in some cases and by circumstance (not asking) in others.

        The tax limits are in place to manage the tax burden, which requires managing spending. Voters simply need to understand the opportunities and limitations of that reality. AND teachers need to recognize that 2 days of furlough were easily offset by again failing to negotiate a health care plan….and again only talking premium contributions and copays…with no real deductibles to manage the costs. A $2500 bonus vs. two days…where is that wage freeze again?

        Who cares what other districts are doing? If there was a state contract as in Maryland and Alabama and even Texas, every teacher could expect a major pay cut. Do other districts match education options? Personal days? You cannot cherry pick going up and then try to do the opposite when you yield something. cynical? Not a single teacher is obligated to teach in TESD.

        Long winded and short fuse. Cronyism within the district, the voting public, the administration, the board….it’s a ticking time bomb.

        Good luck y’all.

        1. It’s easy not to take a bonus when you are already paid over 120,000 dollars like most of the administrators and are… If you told me I could make that for the next twenty years…. Sold…

          You always focus on teachers… But the admins get paid with that same money, have that same pension, and have the same healthcare…

          1. And let’s not forget Waters’ retirement bonus of a year’s salary. Who gets this level of retirement bonus in today’s world? CEO of a major corporation … maybe? TE Administrators … yes. I find it incredulous that the highest paid employees in this District receive raises (again, NO public discussion, consent agenda!). Then 3 months later, some of those same administrators who benefited (Waters, McDonnell, Tiede) along with the School Board members who approved the raises in the consent agenda, are now deciding the fate of the lowest paid in this District. Waters, McDonnell and Tiede combined salaries is more than the salaries of the 175 aides and paraeducators in TESD.

        2. Pattye,

          And let’s not forget about McConnell at $176,823 which is significantly higher than McDonnell at $156, 309.

        3. Pattye,
          You said, ” Waters, McDonnell and Tiede combined salaries is more than the salaries of the 175 aides and paraeducators in TESD.”
          Would you check you math again please?

          1. Keith — OK, to be fair, the combined salaries and benefits of Waters, McDonnell and Tiede is around $1 million whereas the aides/paras work for $10/12 hr.without any benefits.

    1. Let’s be careful with pitting those issues on all of our teachers… Those are high school issues. Not elementary or middle school.

  38. I guess it’s human nature to forget what gains were made and concentrate on the few concessions – one of which was the possibility of 4 furlough half days. I say “possibility” because it’s in the best interests of all parties to eliminate those half-days if revenues come in better than expected.
    Maybe the better question to ask would be, “Could I find a better teaching job somewhere else?”

  39. Keith. You are incorrect. There is no uncertainty. We are being furloughed on 4 different half days next school year. Read the calendar. Name another district doing this. I don’t think you can.

    1. TeTeacher,
      You might be right about the furlough days, but I wouldn’t bet my life on next year’s district calendar. If it were so accurate we wouldn’t have any snow days.
      The reason I mentioned that the half-days might disappear is that the contract UCF just agreed to eliminates two of the three half-days that were in the last contract. We all realized that half-days were ineffective. There was very little quality instruction taking place and instead there were movies and questionable exercises. The students were in vacation mode. Parents had to modify child care plans.
      While TE may be the only district in the state with furlough days built into the contract, furloughs have been a common occurrence across the state as a budget balancing tactic. It may be that both sides felt that four half-days were preferable to either the district furloughing 1% of the teachers for a year or the teachers agreeing to 1% less of a compensation increase.

  40. Keith,
    Again, incorrect.
    1- The half day furlough days are half day inservice days. No arguments about lost instruction, daycare, etc. Those are full days of no school for students.
    2- if they were going to give back those furlough days if there’s extra $, then wouldn’t they have done that with the $5 million surprise surplus?

    1. You are correct. Thanks for letting me know that the deleted half days were in-service days. I assumed they were student days which was incorrect.
      Where is the surprise $5M surplus documented? Typically, accounting for the current 2012-13 year is not finished until October.

  41. Union contracts and administrator agreements have insulated teachers and administrators from the harsh economic realities citizens in the private sector– who pay for these salaries, experience.

    The retirement benefit programs for both segments are far more generous than most of us can look forward to.

    I have great respect for teachers, however, tax payers feel resentment when they are paying for these salaries and benefits which are more generous than counterparts in the private sector experience.

    Tax payers must stand up, take control, and begin to abide by common sense and good judgement.

  42. Final comment on this repeated reference to admin retirement bonus….IT is in lieu of a previous (and routine in many, many districts) option to cash out unused sick days, and only applies if the employee does not take the sabattical offered in the school code. IT is not a bonus in any conventional sense. The traditions in education harken back to Mr. Chips….when teachers/admins were not well paid…so they got generous benefits and pensions. SL is correct that education compensation is insulated from economic realities…but you can and should read the fine print everywhere to understand it. The supplemental pension (admin “bonus”) SAVED money. The state of PA constitution protects benefits and compensation…

    I had 100 pages of legal advice to get to this “bonus” feature because it involved taking away sick day accumulation. (260 sick days would be a year’s salary). The subsequent board NEVER asked to review any of it. And subsequently ignored much of the rationale and effort in reaching the agreement. You may find this frustrating, but TESD puts it all in writing on the website. Just try and figure out what other districts do….good luck. The secrecy of this board (consent agenda) is on them…any board member can ask for a topic to be moved to the public discussion. Until you all jumped, no one on the board was willing to do that. Pay attention to the voting process…pick good people, not good signs.

    If you have any questions, Pattye can send them to me. My disappointment in this whole process does not need to be played out in public…especially when so many here remind me I have no business having an opinion.

    Again…good luck. This is ALL cronyism.

    1. Thank you for your insight Andrea. It is interesting to read what you experienced when you served and how things have changed and some things not so much. Hopefully, now that citizens are starting to see what this board is up to, the momentum will continue and people will stay involved and interest past this outsourcing issue. As for this being “played out in public”-it’s really not. It’s more or less being played out here on this blog. Fox 29 News and I believe Action News were at the school board meeting but I never saw anything on the tv and I have yet to see anything in the Suburban newspaper yet. Has anyone else seen/heard anything?
      We thank Pattye for giving us a place to air our concerns and frustrations and share what information we do find out.

  43. Can we consider separating out the TENIG subcontracting from the aides/paras? TENIG employees are in jobs that pay their bills. The highly (over)qualified aides and paras are people who took on jobs that were clearly below-market compensation, and are mutually deciding if they will just quit. They seem not to be a class of employees who work for the paycheck…and are more indignant they would be outsourced…not desperate to,protect their jobs/income.

    The aides/paras are an asset…always has been TEs good fortune to have so many highly qualified individuals who did not pursue professional positions…but to continually refer to them as the lowest paid ignores the economic fears in TENIG. Our custodians are fighting to,preserve their jobs. The money has to come from somewhere, and indignation isn’t going to create a new source of revenue. Our kids need them all. Let’s consider the economic realities.

    1. The kitchen staffs should not even be considered in the outsourcing even though they are part of TENIG. The kitchen is self-sustaining through the money they make providing lunches/snacks. This covers all expenses including the Food Service Director’s salary as well as his secretary. It also covers all the PSERS contributions. There is no need to look out outsourcing the kitchens.

  44. Sidelines, I find part of your entry obnoxious, and the rest boring. The aides are concerned about outsourcing because of the pay/benefit/ accrued pensions that may be lost. I am sure they will gladly accept more hourly wage. do not be misled by the perceived lack of interest in wages. I can tell you that even the “meager” wages they receive go to help support their families. As I said, they would gladly accept more. They are not unionized, not rabblerousers, not trouble makers. There is NO organization, at least not until last month. While some may volunteer for this position, not one of them would guarantee to be there 5 days a week and put up with the crap they have to put up with, on a volunteer basis. The meager salarie binds them to the job, creates an atmosphere where there is at least some exchange, and the concommittant responsibility of a full or part time JOB… Hope you get it.

  45. Sorry to hear that FF. Wasn’t it you that said your wife could walk away and do other things?

    I do not agree with the approach and encourage people to continue to discuss and advocate. I do get it. I get it’s a job…I have many friends who are aides…for years. And paying people does create obligation to show up and obligation for the employer to treat you fairly.

    If no one will do the job, the compensation will change. I get it. I get that starting salaris in the US for college grads reflect the market demand for those jobs…and that our union wages far exceed the national averages. Do which is it? market forces or union forces?

    Keep on fighting…I only ask that we not lump this group in with career support staff as many of our maintenance, secretarial and custodial staff are. YOU are the free market guy FF. Which is it going to be? Is this about price=demand, or about a bungled process?

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