Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Clarification of TE School Board receipt of outsourcing alternative strategy

This post is offered as clarification regarding the ‘outsourcing alternative’ strategy that Neal Colligan prepared for the TE School Board’s consideration and the receipt of the document . On June 4, Neal sent the following email to the school board at the District email address ( ) with the outsourcing alternative document attached. (I was copied on the email). As previously explained on Community Matters, the document represented the collaborative effort between community members, District aides and paraeducators and, health care experts. (You can find a copy of the document at the end of this post).

As you know, a group of community members, along with many of the Paraeducators working in the district have been working on an alternative to the outsourcing strategy discussed at the May 13, 2013 Board Meeting. Attached is the result of these efforts. The many citizens of our community who have supported this initiative ask that the Board please seriously consider what we propose. In essence, we urge you to comply with the letter of the Affordable Care Act and keep these several hundred jobs in the District. We believe that this can be accomplished in a fiscally responsible and budget positive manner as you will see.

To be clear, we do NOT represent this employee group. They, like us, are members of our community searching for solutions to a community issue. Unlike those of us who have volunteered to help, they will be directly impacted by your decisions on this matter. Their input was critical in considering the design of this strategy. Many of these District employees are living in fear of workplace retribution for being a part of this effort. As such, we will not attach their names to this conceptual plan.

Finally, it is a conceptual plan only. As we did not possess all of the data necessary, we used estimates where necessary. You will not be limited by this lack of information. As in any conceptual plan, there will be issues to work out in the implementation process if you choose this alternative. We believe that this concept can produce a viable alternative to your current strategy that is good for the District employees, taxpayers and the community at large. As engaged members of the community, we are prepared to help in any way we can as you search for a solution to this issue.

Please accept this in the spirit it is intended…as an attempt to help. Let me know when you receive as I can send this attachment in another format if necessary.

Neal Colligan

Rather than a response from the School Board to this email, a receipt from business manager Art McDonnell was sent to Neal. It was unclear whether the Board received the information. Because the outsourcing alternative document was to be publicly distributed on June 5, and because it was important that each Board member receive a copy in advance, I forwarded Neal’s email (with accompanying outsourcing strategy document) to each School Board’s personal email address (Neal was copied on the email) with the following message:

All –

I am re-sending Neal’s email and attached ‘Outsource Alternative’ on the outside possibility that you may not have received it.

Over the course of the last 3 weeks, we have met with many of the aides, paras and substitute teachers and I’m certain that as Board members, you share our interest in saving these District employees and their jobs. It is impossible to fully measure the value that this group of employees brings to the District’s children and their families daily. Understanding the current economic requirements of the school district, I hope that you will give Neal’s plan the complete review that it deserves. We both believe that the aides, paraeducators and substitute teachers are valuable assets to this community and their jobs need to be preserved, not outsourced.

Please let Neal or me know if there is anything we can do to help, as you review the various options.

Kind regards,

Pattye Benson

Following the re-sending of the email with the attached outsourcing alternative document, I received no notice of receipt from any Board member nor was there any response from the District. As a result, it remained unclear if individual Board members had received the information. A couple of days after sending the initial email, Neal did receive a personal email from Anne Crowley (no other Board member or myself were included on the email) stating that she would review the information he had sent regarding the alternative proposal. She went on to thank him for his “attendance, comments and thoughtful participation regarding school board issues.”

Other than the private email from Anne Crowley to Neal, I am unaware of no other school board or District communication to Neil in regards to the outsourcing alternative document – official or otherwise. Neal received no Board ‘thank you’ for his efforts as was stated at the Finance Committee meeting. And for the record, there was no response to my email (above) by any School Board member. I hope that this clarifies the matter and I apologize for any misunderstanding.


Click here to read the outsourcing alternative strategy as provided by Neal Colligan.


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  1. Geeze…let’s get over this thing. You must be name is spelled all different ways above.

    Sorry for any confusion. I received this as a response to my e-mail to the Board at the same minute I sent in our conceptual plan:

    Thank you for contacting the Tredyffrin/Easttown School Board with your comments.
    All emails, with the exception of anonymous comments, will be forwarded to members of the school board, the Superintendent, the Board Secretary, and the Communications Specialist. Anonymous and unsigned messages will not be forwarded. Although email is reviewed on a regular basis, individuals may not be available to read email immediately.
    If you require a response, please contact the T/E School District Administration by calling (610) 240-1900 and you will be connected to the appropriate office.
    Thank you for your comments.

    I had a nice conversation with Karen C. last night…and I’m sorry if I did anything to upset her. I received confirmation that my communication to the Board was received (copy above).

    Not sure what all the Hull-a-ballou is about…hope this clears it up. No one lied…no one tried to mislead … I think we’re getting hung up on semantics. Was it a member of the Board who reached out or an automated response … was there a Thanks…no matter at all…not to me anyway. I understood they received my communication and I sent the conceptual plan to Art McDonnell under separate e-mail in case the attachment got stuck in a spam-blocker.

    Geeze…let’s get back to the issue at hand.

  2. makes me wonder if his e-mail was stopped by administration. ALL e-mails to the Board go to District (Waters, McDonnell, Teide and a probably a few others), and are filtered before the board gets them.
    Once again, who’s running the show??

    1. EVERY EMAIL goes to everyone. This conspiracy is getting tiresome. Personal emails to board members are rarely if ever read as the board link is sent to everyone with attachments. If you contact an individual member, it would be problematic for them to re-distribute, and with an attachment, few people would open an email that wasn’t checked.
      IF an email is signed — i.e. the person sending it will be accountable for what they are saying — it goes on.

  3. When I asked board member Karen Cruickshank after the meeting to explain her comment thanking those who sent in alternative plans, she told me that board members receive so many emails that a policy has developed whereby a point person – in this case she said it was Art McD. the business manager – responds for the board and I guess in this instance, the administration. She assured me again that she and other board members had carefully reviewed Neal’s “skinny plan” but that their counsel once again advised them not to go in that direction. And that they had complete faith in their lawyers.

  4. Yep, that policy is what I discussed with Karen last night. Makes sense….others can worry about the semantics.

    We also talked about the Board’s relationship with their solicitors. While this vendor has been around working for the District for a long time and are obviously highly trusted…I (as a citizen) don’t want them MAKING policy. This is the job of our elected officials. Advice is fine, the decision authority must still reside in the hands of the Board.

  5. Decision authority should reside with the board, not lawyers and not architectural firms. Citizen e-mails should not be read and responded to by administrators. This should also lie in the hands of the board.

  6. This board doesn’t seem to like to take responsibility….but I’m not sure they dodged it here. They got advice. The advice is what they consider when they make policy. IF they follow bad advice, shame on them. If they trust the advice, and agree with it, well…..

    In the end Neal, you are correct — the decision authority lies in their hands.

    And Administrators don’t necessarily respond to the emails. The business office/public affairs acknowledge receipt of it.

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