Pattye Benson

Community Matters

TESD Calendar update — Students will have 179 school days & other updates

An article written by Yuge Xiao & Lavi Ben-Dorin in StogaNews online this morning, reports on the school board meeting and the updated school calendar, stating that“… students now have 179 school days. Staff will still have 191 days, with the last being on June 30. Originally, the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District (TESD) had scheduled 182 instructional days (the state requirement is 180). However, the district has chosen to not reschedule the two additional days.”

Thanks to Ray Clarke for attending TESD the meeting last night — Finance and Special School Board meeting — his notes are offered below:

Ray Clarke – Notes from February 10 Finance & Special School Board Meeting

1. Off-off-the-presses Affordable Care Act changes. The Board committed that the district will analyze the impact and report the results at the February 24th Board meeting. This is a hard commitment.

ACA Change: Companies with 100 workers or more are getting a different kind of one-year grace period. Instead of being required in 2015 to offer coverage to 95 percent of full-time workers, these bigger employers can avoid a fine by offering insurance to 70 percent of them next year

2. As suggested by some CM commenters, there are ways to save Spring Break and have the last day no later than June 20th: reducing instructional days from 182 to the state minimum of 180 and also counting three non-instructional days towards the 180. At the moment (before the the next storm on Thursday!) there are two days that remain to be used in this way and thus preserve Spring Break. The explanation wasn’t the clearest and I didn’t have a good angle on the screen, so the public should check the TESD web site for the approved calendar. Interesting here that the recently hired cafeteria manager was credited with bringing these ideas to the District from his previous public accounting (I think) experience.

3. The preliminary Budget was approved, with the authorization to file for Exceptions, which – if approved by the State – the Board has the discretion to use to whatever extent they deem necessary for the final Budget, which has to be passed by June 30th. Governor Corbett’s PA budget proposes reducing the increase in PSERS, which Art McDonnell stated would have the effect of reducing expenses by $600,000, if enacted exactly as-is. (I think that benefit is net of the state’s contribution, and presumably therefore the allowed exception would also be reduced by this amount – giving an allowed exception tax increase of ~0.6% rather than the current 1.1%). Many moving pieces here, and obviously important to make sure that the latest and best information is brought to bear on the final decision. Much reference to the March and April budget workshops, which hopefully can include fine-tuning across the board, incorporating things like salary “breakage”, for example.

4. Not discussed at the Board or Finance Committee, but there is an important Education Committee meeting tomorrow at 1:30pm. Topics include a review of the Special Education program (which we have told will be over-spending this year’s budget by $850,000 [over 5%], for over 1,000 students receiving special education services in the District]. Also on the Agenda, enrollment projections. At 12:30pm the Legislative Committee will be reviewing the Governor’s education budget and perhaps providing some insight on its prospects.

5. The district’s transportation staff drove the bus routes on Sunday to check that the roads were cleared sufficiently to allow the schools to open today – quite an effort and accomplishment, I think.

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  1. How can the board count a teacher in service day as a school day when No students will be present? I think that I’ll send in my 2013 Fed. Tax check with an account that has “zero” funds.

  2. very strange. sounds to me like some angry parents with spring break plans got a hold of somebody.

    if anything, they should’ve left spring break at a long wknd and returned the last day of school to the 17th.

  3. The whole thing is odd.
    Take spring break away. Cancel hotel. Spring break back lost hotel.
    They make decisions that are way off the cuff. Like this decision should have waited until after the next storm that they know is coming. Just odd.
    Teachers…going until June 30th. Really? I know what people are going say…I work 12 months so can they!
    But that is the point…many teacher I work with work in the summer. Sports camps. Some go away to the mountains to work at camps. Some work summer schools in other places. This puts their summer work in jeopardy Dan and the board do not think about that when they keep adding days. Like…child care for their own children…they have to scramble for those two weeks. The board…treats the teachers like robots often…like they should not have lives. last note…they just saved money on aids. A lot of money….remember that!!!!

    1. Here’s the latest Calendar updates:
      Day 1: June 17, 2014
      Day 2: June 18, 2014
      Day 3: June 19, 2014
      Day 4: June 20, 2014
      Day 5: February 17, 2014

      Day 6: Student Day Not Rescheduled
      Day 7: Student Day Not Rescheduled
      Day 8: Student Day Not Rescheduled
      Day 9: Student Day Not Rescheduled
      Day 10: Student Day Not Rescheduled

      So … what happens when Thursday (and possibly Friday) are snow days. Is it back to taking the spring break days or adding to the end of the year. I know of several families that were planning on using spring break to visit colleges and plans were made accordingly. I’m guessing that they would have moved forward with those plans regardless.

      1. It seems that I had it right in my note – there are two more days now available to be used as snow days before there is any need to use the Spring Break days. Thursday could be one of those two days.

        I think this was well-received at the schools and is an important issue to many families with plans for Spring Break. Many might not have changed those plans even if school were in session. When our children were in school we expected a few extra days added to the end of the school year and often tried to take a trip of some sort in the Spring.

        1. When ever my family takes a trip I always take travel ins. in the event of a problem.
          The real loosers are the kids in the final analysis (fewer instructional days).

  4. worrying about spring break vacations… I thinking. our kids are lucky….is this an issue in some other districts? Some like ours, maybe.. some others, maybe not so much.:)

  5. The district instituted an automated calling service a few years ago called TE all call. (I’m pretty sure that’s what they call it) It calls all families of children with school age children to let them know about closings or delays. I remember when it was first put in place, many parents did not like it one bit because the service calls homes as early as 5:30am to give school closing updates for the day. I’m sure the administrative office got many, many calls from parents complaining about the early call time. I don’t know about now but I’m sure they get a at least a few complaints. I’m sure it’s not pretty.

    The message is usually short and sweet and just says whether school is delayed or closed, in the case of delay, it says to check other listings or listen for the phone in case the status changes to a close.

    I have been very impressed with the way it has been handled the last few weeks. It not only gave closing information, it gave detailed info on road closings, bus stop instructions in case a child’s bus stop is not accessible and the number of schools with power and without power etc. I hate to say it, but I was shocked by the transparency.

    It called maybe once or twice at 5:30am but mostly the calls were respectfully generated at a reasonable time the day or night before the closing. I’m not complaining. I realize there are times when it is impossible to make a call before 5 in the morning and I’m sure Dr. Waters and some staff have been up at at least 4 if not earlier every day for 2 weeks. And I know it probably isn’t easy to make the decision to have school or not. I wouldn’t want to do it.

    I have never known the district to be as transparent with information and it was so nice. My family had no power for days. Our office power was out too and it was all we could do to keep our business operational as most of our clients are in TX, FL and CA and although they knew about the storm, they did not care. The only sympathy we got were from clients in NJ who had gone through Sandy and thank God were upper management and told everyone else to lay off demands from vendors in this area for a few days.

    So, thanks to the district. Transparency is really the best way to go. TE all call was one of my only sources of information and I only got that a few times.

    1. Good news about the TE school cancellation notifications from the District — I have a feeling that TE parents will be getting another one of those calls tonight!

      I was at Wegmans this morning and ran into a utility worker from Syracuse, NY who has been in our area for days helping with the power restoration. He and his crew had expected to head home this morning but just got the word from PECO to stay here and ride out the next storm. In his opinion, he thinks there are going to be another round of major outages. As he explained it to me, there were able to restore power but there are a number of trees that are laying on wires and any additional weight from snow/ice is going to bring the wires down. It’s interesting that he mentioned this because I noticed on Rt. 252 South between Swedesford Road and Rt. 30, before Central Avenue, there are many trees pulling down the wires now — can’t imagine that it will take much to bring them down. This is just one example, I’m sure that this is the case throughout the township. There hasn’t been enough time to adequately clear the lines since the last storm — the focus was on restoration of power (as it should be).

  6. Let’s not forget one thing about this whole discussion — teachers are paid for a school year — so that’s why they will work their 190+ days. Their contract specifies days and hours and minutes…

    How ironic that parents would complain about spring break plans and that would result in a reinstatement. Our kids only benefit from instruction when they are there for it — and especially AP kids are woefully short-changed in these times because they are taught TO the test, and will now lose many, many hours of instruction before the nationally scheduled tests.

    When people bemoan public education standards, these are the kind of decisions that affect them. Most countries ahead of the US don’t pay by the hour, and don’t try to reduce time in the seat. All kinds of uproar when the state sets standards that TE parents claim are “below” ours, but only too happy to accept “minimum school year” calculations. Divide the salaries by 190 and that’s what each day costs you to pay the staff….and when there are big gaps between instructional days and staff days, you are paying for a whole bunch of “non student contact” time…
    Just saying. One would think 10 days out of school for snow might be enough of a “break” for this year?

    1. Agreed.

      In reality….10 plus inservice days for teachers.
      It is almost silly.

      The teachers in the middle schools are just shaking their heads.

      I wish the tables can be turned, if the students are not coming in, bring Dan and the board in..I am sure the teachers can teach and enlighten them.

      1. When the teachers are in, the admins are in. Just how much work do you think teachers do when the students aren’t in IF the admins are not running workshops etc?

        The teacher year is a made up number designed to get the teachers a specific salary…when they want a raise, sometimes they get a raise and 2 extra days, which results in a bigger raise. In years past, sometimes they would claim a specific raise amount — which was on the base — and then they got extra days, which added to the base. It’s all smoke and mirrors. And for the record — the admins don’t get those holiday weeks off…unless they take them…that’s another smoke and mirrors deal.

        And as for the APs….it’s not about how long the kids go — time in june IS a waste…especially in our un-airconditioned elementary and middle schools….so adding the time to June is useless for all concerned. Spring break is an opportunity to make up instructional time. Just realize THAT is what you are giving up for that trip to Disney World. I’m not saying that trip isn’t important — it is. But life is about trade offs…
        How many of the sports teams are playing in tournaments in Florida during Spring Break? I’m guessing THAT is a bigger issue….but I may be wrong.

  7. one of the problems is that makeup days are extremely unproductive – many people with break plans will not change them (fyi – most travel insurance will not cover if “school is in session” as a reason for canceling). It is difficult to cover the material when 25% of the class (or more?) isn’t in attendance.

    Also, T/E is typically the last school in the area to go to school-this year they get out June 20. How much productive instructional time occurs in June? Adding days in June is worthless.

    Most teachers are happy to get their spring break back. The reality is that they will accelerate their lesson plans to get the critical information in before testing. (btw, all PSSA’s are scheduled before Spring Break, so adding Spring Break doesn’t affect that testing preparation). And Seniors taking AP classes? They don’t have to makeup the days at the end of the year anyway.

  8. Seniors taking AP classes lose 11 instructional days for snow…they cannot make those days up…the 4 days of Spring Break WOULD have made those days up. (And many, many taking APs are juniors…and sophomores…)

    It’s a matter of educational priorities. Class time. Vacation time. Break time. The state doesn’t care — they waste time giving PSSAs.

  9. I never noticed until this year that TE didn’t pad the schedule with at least a couple snow days. I think I just assumed that’s why school was ending on June 16.

    a full week for spring break is too much anymore. Aren’t most districts off that now? I agree that going far into June accomplishes almost nothing since kids are in summer mode. So why not go for a long wknd instead and get the kids out no later than the 2nd week in June? Because spring break is huge for a lot of family trips is what I was told by rich gusick.

    Also, why 182? What do radnor and LM do?

  10. sidelines… I understand your concern about kids taking AP classes, however, here are a few counterpoints.

    1) if a kid is smart enough to take an AP class, they are smart enough to study independently over Spring Break.

    2) most of the students are NOT in this category – so you essentially want to “punish” kids AND teachers to come during Spring Break when this bonus instructional time is: hard to use (many kids out) and after PSSA testing?

    3) many of those kids taking AP classes already have plans for Spring Break – so would not be here anyway.

    4) many Seniors have college visits planned over Spring Break so will not be here.

    At the rate of this year, we may still end up coming during Spring Break (winter isn’t over yet!) anyway!

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