Pattye Benson

Community Matters

TE School Board Approves Administrator Bonuses, $22K/yr Salary Increase to Business Manager & 3.2% Tax Increase to Homeowners

Four important votes took place at last night’s TE School Board meeting and unfortunately there was little surprise in the results.

  • Approval of bonuses to TESD administrators – check
  • Approval of bonuses to TESD supervisors – check
  • Approval of $22K/yr. salary increase & 5-year contract to TESD Business Manager – check
  • Approval of 3.2 percent tax increase to TESD homeowners – check

It was encouraging to see some new faces in the audience and one resident, Tracy Gould of Wayne, came prepared with handwritten signs (see below) announcing her displeasure. Gould explained that she is a parent of three children and like many families, struggles during these economic times. She appealed to the Board to consider the residents and not approve the salary increases and tax increase.

School Board meeting

You know how sometimes you can just forecast what the result is going to be before a vote is actually taken – well, that is exactly how last night’s school board meeting went.

To their credit, Board members Liz Mercogliano and Scott Dorsey were the lone dissenting votes on the employee bonuses, salary increase to Art McDonnell and tax increase to the homeowners. Both explained that they could not support giving bonuses and salary increases when the District does not provide basic healthcare benefits for the aides and paraeducators. Although Mercogliano and Dorsey are outnumbered 7-2 by the other Board members in their votes, I appreciate that they are concerned about the effect on residents of another year of tax increases. Providing affordable health care to all District employees is important; I personally thank Liz and Scott for taking a stand on this issue and supporting the aides and paras.

School Board Vice President Kris Graham is chairing the superintendent search committee which also includes Board members Jim Bruce, Karen Cruickshank and Doug Carlson. In her update, Graham reported that over 1,000 T/E residents responded to the Stakeholder Survey and the results are available on the District’s website,

According to the survey results, the top 5 traits chosen as the most important in a new superintendent are:

  • Honest (54%)
  • Student Centered (52%)
  • Creative Problem Solver (49%)
  • Approachable (37%)
  • Collaborative (37%)

The survey results indicted the top 5 strengths that the new superintendent should be expected to maintain or enhance:

  • Highly qualified staff (54%)
  • High expectations for students (39%)
  • Strong fiscal management (38%)
  • Safe school environment (38%)
  • Culture of continuous improvement (36%)

The top 5 most important qualifications of a new superintendent as selected by respondents:

  • Leadership (74%)
  • Budget & financial expertise (58%)
  • Administrative/education leadership experience (49%)
  • Educational experience (47%)
  • Strategic planning expertise (36%) tie
  • Significant classroom teaching experience (36%) tie

The final survey question, asked respondents to name the top 3 challenges facing the new superintendent:

  • Budget/finance (83%)
  • Government mandates (44%)
  • District labor relations (36%)

My takeaway from the Stakeholder Survey is that the vast majority of respondents believe that finances is the most important issue and that it is important to have someone with leadership qualities and a business/financial background as the District’s next superintendent.

The School Board hired a consultant to help with the superintendent search and Graham explained last night that the she has conducted a couple of workshops with school board members in this regard. According to Graham, there are currently five District employees with the educational qualifications for the position and they have received an application from one person. The in-house superintendent candidate was unnamed by Graham but she did say that the Board would be conducting an interview in the next couple of days.

In the District’s online update of last night’s meeting the following information was provided on the superintendent search:

President Kevin Buraks and Vice President Kris Graham updated the public on the work of the Superintendent Appointment Committee and results from the Stakeholder Survey. The survey results are available on the District web site. The Board will continue to keep the public informed on the search process.

Although the message here is that the Board will “continue to keep the public informed on the search process”, there appeared to be something missing from this online information and from the Buraks and Graham update last night. There was no mention about where the District has posted the job for the superintendent position. I would be interested in know which educational resources the consultant suggested to the Board and where the job is posted. Also, what is the timeline for the District to receive applications?

The Superintendent position is the most important job in the Tredyffrin Easttown School District and I know that the Board, parents, residents, employees and students want to make certain that the information is available to all possible candidates.

Although some in the administration disagree that a morale issue exists, too many District employees would suggest otherwise. I will continue to maintain that the only way to fully correct the morale issues in the District is to hire someone from the outside – an individual with strong financial/budgetary experience (business experience and background) coupled with the educational component and someone that does not have an existing history with current employees is what is sorely needed. The new Superintendent should fully understand the District’s financial needs and not simply rely on the Business Manager for answers.

Because the current Superintendent is not retiring for 12 months (June 30, 2015), the Board has the luxury to conduct a thorough superintendent search and fully vet all candidates for the job. Once the job applications are received from outside the District, the Superintendent Search committee will be able to short list the candidates and then include the residents in their analysis prior to the final selection.

As discussed at last night’s meeting, informing the public of the Superintendent search process is important. I look forward to the Board’s continued updates on the application process and search to find a new TE School District Superintendent.

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  1. Re the survey: It’s notable that the District releases just enough information to say that it has communicated with the community, but not enough to actually be insightful. There are four segments of respondents in significant quantity: parents of students in TE schools (290), residents with no students in TE schools (230), staff (157) and students (212). What are the differences between these groups? Should the groups be given different weights in light of what attributes are important?

    Let’s hope that someone is undertaking this and similar analysis. Although I wonder if the district is not just going through the motions towards a pre-determined outcome.

  2. I understand that taxes have to be raised as costs everywhere are going up and I really don’t mind that (in fact, I expect it) AS LONG AS THAT MONEY IS GOING TO THE KIDS. I don’t want my tax dollars spent on bigwig raises, bonuses and a multi-million dollar maintenance building that we don’t need. Ridiculous! Thank you Scott and Liz for trying to watch out for us. Shame on the rest of you!!!

    1. Totally agree with you Debbie. Raise the teachers morale way over those clowns in administration salaries.
      Better yet raise our taxes yet outsource outsource outsource.
      Cut teachers prep, next up something to ruin it for the kids.

      Shame on you school board! Everyone but Scott and Liz and we’ll remember this at the next election.

      Sadly T/E lost a few good people being groomed for Dan’s job. Those folks saw the writing of corruption loud and clear and got out while they could.

      1. CTP–again, you use the word corruption. You are lying and posing as someone with information. Those who left pursued other opportunities…which must surprise people since TE has such bloated salaries…or maybe not. And lets be clear about votng–7-2 means nothing. Strong convictions work to get 5 votes…tilting at wind mills otherwise. Debate the merits…call on others to justify their votes. That makes for a debate, not a symbolic gesture doomed to fail.

  3. Pattye; You write “I will continue to maintain that the only way to fully correct the morale issues in the District is to hire someone from the outside – an individual with strong financial/budgetary experience (business experience and background) coupled with the educational component and someone that does not have an existing history with current employees is what is sorely needed. The new Superintendent should fully understand the District’s financial needs and not simply rely on the Business Manager for answers.”

    You need to understand that the credentials for a superintendent are very specific, and someone with either business experience OR background is highly unlikely. Learning the culture of a community is not easy. Talk to the people at neighboring districts about their searches and the kinds of candidates that show up. I’m sorry to hear only one internal candidate has applied, as I can think of two that are well suited to the job…

    When the district hired Dr. MacKenzie, they had a forward thinking guy who wanted to run the show…I think he lasted 6 months or less and left without warning. Dr. Foot was the result of a national search and was a solid contributor to the district. He was miles above the other applicants, and frankly, his competition was meager…He retired after his term was completed. It was during his time that the district undertook the “apprenticeship” model for administration. We had to go outside the district time and again for administrators and the cost of the search as well as the quality of applicants made an internal development process important. WHen you hire someone else’s people, you do NOT get all the facts about them. Personnel laws of today do not allow true references, and I cannot tell you how many people leave jobs where you are HAPPY they left, yet you tell their prospective employer that they are wonderful employees. It’s just the way the world is. The devil you know….
    I did it several years ago, but it might be worth someone’s time to look at the “background” of neighboring superintendents…in most cases, they came from either neighboring districts or very small, “unsophisticated” ones, and were looking to step into a bigger job. I say unsophisticated in that not all districts have such a high bar to cross…we are in the top 10 of 500 districts in the state and the comments here are certainly not reflective of that achievement. We are one of the lowest tax burdens in the state based on wealth of the district and comments here do not reflect much of that either.

    There are few if any opportunities for candidates from outside the field of education — business background is not part of the credentialing for the superintendent. Likewise, the reason for a strong business manager is significant as you can NOT hire a business person, but only a highly credentialed educator for the job. The business manager position does not have that restriction when hiring.

    Did the board give you any reasons for the raises and bonuses? Whenever Keith suggests market influences, he gets pounced. As I have said here, we have a top 1% district in the state of PA, both in terms of costs and in terms of student achievement. What exactly do we need to fix? I get the morale problem, and I have said here and elsewhere that the problem is an epidemic in this country. I truly don’t know what kind of fix — what change of direction — would influence that.

    1. The best way to make certain that there are no outside applicants for the superintendent position is NOT to advertise the job anywhere. The Superintendent ‘SEARCH’ committee (and I use the word very loosely) will interview only one candidate, Richard Gusick (the only application which was submitted in-house) I have nothing against Dr. Gusick, I don’t know the man, except that his current title according to the District’s website is Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Staff Development and Planning.

      What I object to is the process, or rather the lack of process in hiring the next Superintendent. The Board hired an educational consultant for the Superintendent search (although we were never told the cost) – she met with the Board a couple of times and presumably made suggestions. Ther SEARCH committee conducted a superintendent survey that received over 1,000 responses from stakeholders. Through the survey results, presumably there was a clear picture of what was desired/needed in the next Superintendent. It would seem to me the next logical step in the process is to POST the Superintendent position on educational website, etc. To my way of thinking that is a PROCESS. I KNOW that there are very specific credentials required for the job — but I will not believe that this applicant is the ONLY applicant with the required credentials. But guess we will never know since the job is not posted.
      The School Board interviewed Gusick last night – they were given a set of questions to ask. Today certain stakeholders will interview Gusick – who is on the list was never made public. I spoke with Ray Clarke and he said that he received a phone message late last night (9:30 PM) from Jeanne Pocalyko, TE Personnel Director, asking to come today for the forum. When I spoke to him this morning, he still didn’t know where or when. I have heard from several sources that the vote for Gusick will be taken this Monday night during an executive session.

      Guess we have one job so there’s only one person needed to interview. I just say wow. The most important job in the TE School District deserves more of a process than we are receiving, don’t you think? There is over 12 months before Dan Waters contract ends — why not act appropriately and post the position. If Gusick is the RIGHT person for the job, he will still get the position. Gusick gets the job by default — he’s the only applicant because the job is NOT posted.

      Shouldn’t the School Board and this SEARCH committee feel a responsibility to the community and the stakeholders to make certain that the person chosen as the next Superintendent is the BEST person for the job? Without an appropriate application process, how can they know that this applicant is the BEST person for the job. There should not be a rush to hire – the community deserves better.

  4. and watch fort Tom Tobins daughter, newly minted degree to get kindergarten job at Beaumont over some other highly qualified long term subs who are most deserving.. lets see what happens.

  5. I really have no comment to add. 5 years ago the presumptive successors were all internal…two have left for other jobs and Rich is certainly highly qualified. He is a long time highly successful teacher–actually anti-admin in his classroom days…taught AP US and several other courses. Interviewing him first makes sense…he will set the bar for any other candidates. I understand your frustration, but again I will say that the “candidates” for,these jobs come with baggage as well as skills. Radnor made a bold hire one hire back–and she used her selection to get her final 3 PSERS numbers much higher and then left “for,the private sector”‘with a major increase to her pension…Phoenixville was without a Superintendent for a significant time period…and I imagine none of our internal people wanted to move or they could have had it. Would it feel better if Dr. Dinkins or Dr. Donovan were being interviewed? If Dr. Demming were interested?

    The national aearches can only uncover a small population…Dr. Foot came from Radnor, but we found him in Minnesota…we dont know how wide,the net is…a job in this field does not require an advertisement to draw interest…people talk. With a new Personnel Director, there a all kinda of links to the opportunity. It is infortunate that so much focus is on the devil we dont know….we are a top district…what is the upside to someone who knows nothing about the district? What ismthe downside to an internal candidate with a record of outstanding performance, father and teacher? ,

    1. ” …a job in this field does not require an advertisement to draw interest” — you are kidding right? People are just supposed to know that 12 months in advance of the superintendent’s retirement that there is a search underway where the job isn’t advertised? Exactly how would someone go about applying for the Waters’ job if the job isn’t listed? Without an application process, would the candidate (who happened to hear of the job opening 12 months in advance) just send a letter of interest. It’s interesting that you mention the new Personnel Director — Jeanne Pocalyko. She actually was instrumental in conducting a superintendent search in her last position in York. This post on Community Matters explains how the process worked there — When I wrote that article I was hopeful that her expertise would be utilized in the TE School District Superintendent Search.

      It’s is interesting that the Chester County Intermediate Unit will perform the Superintendent Search for FREE for this District. Radnor School District paid them $32,000 to conduct their recent superintendent search. What is the ‘downside’ to making certain that the best qualified superintendent is hired for the District. If Rich Gusick is the BEST candidate when compared to other candidates, then of course, he should get the position. Why shortchange the residents of this District by not posting the vacancy, accepting applications and interviewing candidates — it would appear that type of search would be appropriate and prudent. Your words, “we are a top district” so why not conduct a “top district superintendent search”??

  6. Pattye–this is just me and you debating this. I get your frustration, but I also see nothing wrong with someone working hard, moving through the system, and earning the top spot. Lets see how it plays out. Just because he has worked here a long time doesnt make him a soldier…he has the intellect to be a general. Lets see how the interview process advances.

  7. There are ways to improve morale in TE and one way has everything to do with breaking the ‘culture’ that has employees on edge because of the administrative ‘style’ that has been ‘coached’ to groomed employees.

    Just heard from VF middle school teachers that many employee moves were made when only one change was needed. What is the motivation for these changes? Wouldn’t you think the administration would ask if employees were interested in making a move to a new grade and subject before ‘forcing’ them? NOT in TE! One way to improve morale is to give employees a choice, allow them to teach an area in which they have a strong passion. But TE doesn’t care – it’s like turning the knife in an employees back and it has been going on for years now.
    Has the school board or administration ever wondered what impact making these unnecessary moves have on teacher motivation?

    As for the potential candidates who left, I suspect they were no longer willing to drink the cool-aide, especially Dr. Dinkins who was a class act. “Mr.” Donovan who had become assistant superintendent, left for an assistant middle school position under a cloak of darkness. Dr. Demming is a top notch elementary principal but it would be a huge stretch for her to make it to superintendent.

    A CHANGE in ‘culture’ is EXACTLY what is needed. Many employees in EVERY employee group no longer like working in TE but for most, a change is simply not realistic. They are stuck. And, I can’t imagine what the long-term ramifications will be to students and the district.

    Ray Clarke, I believe, suggested a survey of employees from an outside firm to help find areas of strength and those in need of improvement. I have seen no movement or willingness of the board or administration to act. And, you can bet your bottom dollar, if Rich Gusick becomes Superintendent, it won’t happen because he has been ‘coached’ so well.

    TESD’s long standing reputation is at stake. The district is at a pivotal point. Employee morale is critical in every organization but in the ‘business’ of educating children it is crucial!

    I was actually surprised when I read Pattye’s post. But, as a former TE employee has said

  8. I am glad they still have the “rainy day fund”! Yes I know it is for PSERS in the future. I keep hearing that. Yet the money sits and gains interest. Correction your money sits and gains interest for the district. Yet teachers have less one on one time in the HS for you children. Your children pay to park. Pay to play sports. Still the money sits. Correction your money sits. So you live in the district and you sold your house this year. The tax money that you gave up sits and you never got what you paid for I guess. But you did pay for bonuses for a bunch of people who have never met your child. I guess.

    1. Approximately 25-30 years of property taxes on the average house pays for the cost of educating one child,,,,the transfer tax doesnt even ante up for the capital bond expenses. The system is under financial pressures because of tax levels and resistance to actually taxing for what they spend.

      people who run schools are EDUCATORS…stop electing lawyers and other educators to the board…elect people with the skills that are missing.

      No one ever comments when I say it, but morale is a national malaise, not a TE problem. Snd whether or not Rich Guaick gets this job, this district is about synergy. He is NOT a soldier. Again, look around and ask around. Public education is failing…TE is at least producing a solid outcome. think what life would be like if things were as bad as everyone makes it sound. 501 PA districts, all wth a Superintendent that requires PA certification, Declining incomes and property values. A state with one of the lowest job creation rates in the country, Unions without contracts. Districts in receivership. low bond ratings. a staff of tenured losers.

      The teachers signed a new contract and did not “fix” the problem of 6 periods because its only a high school issue.

      1. you hit it on the head… morale is a national malaise. the power of the federal government, directly related to money the states and localities receive from the feds is a huge problem from a leverage perspective in favor of the feds.

        States have abdicated their independence. Governors are afraid or financially powerless to take on the monolith that is the federal government. And we are becoming less “free”.. that is will take a huge commitment from we tne people to turn this around, starting with this fall’s elections. It cant be any worse with new bodies in government seats.

  9. nothing will happen because the PARENTS of the TE students, a majority of them I dare say, don’t know or don’t care what is happening in the internecine struggles in the schools. It is just off the radar, except for the few, like here on this blog that know. And what to do about it? Who will run to replace the fumbling and flummox Buraks? Who controls who is placed in nomination for board positions? It is a minority that controls our district, and sadly things will hardly change, even with the man called Waters leaving.. perhaps when realtors stop touting the school district, when services to students really start to plunge will the community wake up. our own strengths here, strong parental guidance of students, the will of parents to prepare their kids for college and learning actually work in the favor of those ossified board members and administration, for now. Generally, we have a very educated parent community and whether aides and paras are screwed, and the dimunition (sp) of success among our student body at large is thwarted by these factors. Contracts are boring. Most families are concerned with their own kids, and until these families meet the breakwater of classroom failure of their kids, nothing will really stick.. I don’t trust the principals, other administrators and even the teachers here.They all have their own turf to protect, and silence is the safest way.

  10. On the subject of change –

    Why is the School Board so afraid of change? The latest news of extending a 5 year contract to a business manager, combined with their thinking of hiring from within for the superintendent’s position. This defies logic. Are they and the teachers, students, parents & taxpayers really happy with maintaining the status quo. That’s what they are aiming to do.

    With morale in the ranks at an all time low, why not use this opportunity to discover a rising start or a seasoned veteran with solid leadership skills in dealing with both personnel and budgets. There’s much to be gained from doing a national search.

    Is the board choosing the easiest way to the top position in the entire school district by just moving someone up? What about excellence? Where does due diligence come in to make sure that the best possible candidate is hired for that position.

  11. The board meetings are a joke. Nothing is decided there. It is done in committees.. public welcome, few attend.

    who among us really knows what is going on? Burak mumbles through the meeting and except for the perfunctory public comment, which has NO bearing on anything the board does, it is just a dog and pony show, with waters smugly hunched in his chair, ever so polite but full of crap..Really hard to watch. Maybe the lawyers for the district want it this way to prevent chaos and lawsuits. I don’t know..

  12. Am I correct that the start of the para/aide fiasco was Obamacare and the requirement that anyone working more than 30 hours must receive healthcare? The board at that time had two options. One, outsource. Two, give the para/aides a $11,000 raise (the average cost of TESD healthcare). It seems to be another example of an unintended consequence of a national law wreaking havoc at the local level.

    1. The discussion of outsourcing began before Affordable Care Act — ACA became a convenient excuse for the District to lower hours or outsource the jobs of aides/paras. It is my opinion, that all employees of TESD should be offered health care (whether required by the Federal government or not).

      1. Pattye,
        I doubt whether the outsourcing conversation involved aides and paras until the ACA. Why? Before the ACA, outsourcing of paras/aides would have increased labor costs; not lowered them. I can understand why outsourcing of TENIG employees might have been discussed before the ACA since, with contractually agreed upon healthcare, outsourcing might have saved money. (UCFSD investigated outsourcing before the ACA) With the advent of the ACA the healthcare requirement would cause a $11K increase in labor costs for each para/aide if offered the same plan as all the other employees.

        Before the ACA I can understand why some might call for the district to offer all employees healthcare. The reason? Healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions was not available at an affordable price. However, since the advent of the ACA, healthcare is available to everyone at an affordable price on the exchanges. Instead of offering healthcare to the para/aides, the district could get the same outcome by giving each employee an $11K salary increase and ask the paras/aides to purchase their own healthcare on the exchanges. (there are some tax implications that I’ve glossed over, but I’m trying to get the point across that healthcare is just another insurance policy that can be purchased by anyone) Thus, if you think “all employees of TESD should be offered health care” then you are for an $11K compensation increase for each aide/para, a spending increase of $700K and an additional tax increase of around 1%.

        1. Outsourcing of the aides/paras was discussed before ACA — reason? The cost of PSERS. The belief was that it would be cheaper to outsource and not have the PSERS expense.

          I believe that all full-time employees of the District should have the benefit of health care. I support fairness and equitable benefits for all full-time District employees. Fairness should not mean that the highest paid District employees receive bonuses and significant salary increases when the lowest paid employees cannot have health insurance. Perhaps if bonuses/salary increases were not distributed so freely to the administrators there would be money available to offer health care coverage.

        2. keith, the ACA did NOT make healthcare cheaper for most. It is one reason being blamed for the economic malaise we all find ourselves in.
          The pension contribution for the aides is a drop in the bucket compared to many other expenses. and it is true as I believe someone said that retention of high level employees IS a strategy. But from the working class, it does seem odd as pattye points out that there is this generosity above what is perceived as reasonable for some, when the lower echelon workers are not as regarded, financially and frankly are an easier target. While high level employees are important, it is the private in our army of employees that make the day to day business go smoothly,. Lets face it there are many issues confronting Pennsylvania public schools, from federal regulations (and the money received by playing nice) to PSERS, healthcare and this effects even our vaunted school district. In many ways, i think there is a sublime effort, egalitarian perhaps, to reduce success to a lower level easier attained by ALL.. Lower all boats… here in TE, new rules….not hiring returning grads for teacher positions, not having student teaching anymore, as regular teacher time in the classroom takes away from PSSA and over all learning prep…

          Pattye, I agree that there IS money in this district. Being a devils advocate, perhaps the board and administration is pulling in the oars as they see more and more expenses down the road expanding with logarithmic force.. Just look at the PSERS example. It is clearly unsustainable while it was probably deemed a great thing when it was started. ??

          1. As the District’s aides and paras leave, their positions are replaced by employees from the outsourcing companies. The level of education and experience of the replacements from the outsourced companies cannot compare to the District’s aides and paras. It’s interesting that many of the District’s aides and paras have worked in the schools for years — I have heard numbers like 12, 15, 18 years from many that I have met. Many started as volunteers when their children’s schools and then stayed on after their children were out of the school district. The quality of these District employees cannot be replaced by the outsourcing companies. On one hand, you have aides/paras that have stayed for years in the schools and then the flipside is the revolving door that has happened with many of their counterparts from the outsourced companies. Here’s an example — I have had three different District aides tell me this story that happened recently (my only verification is that three different people gave the same version). Two Delta T aides left one of the schools mid-morning for an outside cigarette break (!?) and simply never returned to the school that day. This does not mean that there are issues with all the outsourced aides and paras but there does appear to be a distinct difference between the aides and paras that are District employees and those that are from outsourcing companies. Maybe that difference doesn’t matter to the District and that these employees are disposable, as one school board director was heard to say.

        3. Pattye,
          I don’t buy into “equitable benefits for all full-time District employees”. As I mentioned before, any benefit the district provides can be purchased on the open market. A para with a $25K salary and district provided benefits (healthcare, retirement, SS, unemployment ins, workers comp) worth $15K would get the same total compensation if the district gave the para a $40K salary with no benefits. So, under closer scrutiny, I’m not sure why someone would single out “benefits” as a category that everyone should get equally. As a long-time consultant I’ve never received any benefits and I don’t fell cheated.
          And I might question whether some workers should receive healthcare worth $25K if they have a family where a co-worker with the same job receives healthcare worth only $6K if they are single. Is that fair? Some companies give each employee the same dollar amount and allow them allocate the same dollar amount, say $12K, amongst different benefits. Some might choose to invest it all in a 401K plan and use their spouse’s healthcare plan. Some might choose to invest it all in healthcare and defer saving for retirement. Is that fair? Independent contractors employed by the district (temporary principals, substitute teachers, lawyers) get an hourly rate without any benefits. I think we all have a different definition of what is fair.

      2. Outsourcing discussion has always been about managing costs. Since aides and paras are non contract employees, they were not part of the problem. Discussions were about TENIG outsourcing continually…to use as a bar in negotiations. The aides and para jobs did not ever offer benefits and were relatively easy to fill…by people who would rather work with kids diring school hours near their house and on a school calendar. Compare it to working at Macys or a Hallmark counter and it was a good gig. As the economy turned, perhaps there was more reliance on the earnings..but it was NEVER meant to include insurance. We are ot socialists. Private schools don’t offer pensions…are those teachers mistreated?
        ACA and imho the ability to complain anonymously has expanded the vision of “unfair” and “uncaring” ….I get the complaint about some sectors of the employees being treated better than others, but believe it or not–that is market driven too. Those jobs are much more skill and credential driven, and retention IS a strategy.
        Again.,except for tthe psychic characteristics this blog and other anonymous forums plumb, TESD is a pretty successful,district. I regret the acrimony and uncertainty that seems to be morphing out of disappointment…and the vitriol for Waters that has grown SINCE he was tasked with doing the labor negotiations…(and I do not believe that is concidental) Complaints about board members can be fixed every election, but Darth Buraks was re-elected and I dont see the newer members in conflict with the district direction.

        This is a 100+ million dollar business. Lots of complexity and scrutiny and state and federal mandates. And despite protestations, it cannot just shut down and start over. The local control is extensive, but not absolute. Good thing is–people have choices. They can work elsewhere, they can move away, they can choose a charter school, or like some, an independent school. Of course, it takes money to follow some of those options…and FAPE takes money too…which the state limits without regard to the community resources by dictating tax increases…while allowing collective bargaining to be basically unrestricted. (strikes by teachers without losing pay).

        1. As evidenced by the voting results from the last school board meeting, school board members Scott Dorsey and Liz Mercogliano are not in lockstep with the others.

        2. yes sidelines, one of the great anomalies of our election process is that people like Buraks get re-elected. Could it be that he is actually doing a great or good job? Could it be that no one wants to take his place? Could it be that the parties who proffer these candidates have too much power assuming there are others to take on a candidacy?

          Look at the CIC.. he was elected TWICE.. I rest my case.

        3. My question, and I have heard about these and similar stories is, why do they leave for the day? are they accountable to anyone? Does the district have the presence to complain to Delta T? I mean, if they are so concerned about money, then we the people sure aren’t getting our monies worth!

  13. This has nothing to do with the ACA. Districts use the ACA and they use “the soaring costs of special education” among other things as excuses for raising taxes, outsourcing valued employees, and cutting student programs. All a tax payer has to do is look at the budget to see that special ed is a small sliver of overall budget costs. Directors are silent on the real culprit — Salaries, healthcare (some talk about pension, but add to the problem by granting raises to employees who already make more than the highest paid governor in the country) costs that continue to rise especially as Directors continue to grant raises and bonuses to this segment that already eats up 75 to 80% of the budget.

    As an informed ex Board Member stated:

    Here’s the deal:

    Instead of cutting people, the board should look into unilateral reduction of benefits and then make them available to everyone.

    My guess is, they’ll just keep blaming Obama while continuing to feed that great big elephant in the room no one will talk about.

    1. The ability to reduce the costs of the package offers is 100% driven by PSEA….the will to face off on it is lacking state-wide. I do not understand it, and during my long ago time on the board, we succeeded in taking admins off the teacher plan and converting to a defined contribution, not a defined benefit, but subsequent boards went back to the teacher benefit…a much more uncontrolled way of managing costs. There is a socialist mentality about health care, which is masked by the term ACA…the Affordable part is simply a feel-good term…affordable for the employer, the employee, or wait–subsidized by taxpayers while the benefit itself — the options included ( NO DEDUCTIBLE IN THE TESD VERSIONS) are not even on the table.

  14. sorry shining, ACA came to our district, that quiet self sustaining beacon on the hill, with aids and paras happily working for what they agreed to, yes a pittance, and along comes this new expense fostered on the district. Now I am no fan of this board, but saying ACA had no ramifications is not exaxctly accurate.

  15. and if i may add, the board really has its hands tied with the unionized contracts and healthcare and psers so when the opportunity came up to slam some group and say no because they thought they could they did.. Delta T is in the house anyway.

  16. Dont want to be too much of a cynic, but the recent 7-2 vote is meaningless…and reflects nothing. It only means they dont want a unanimous decision. Working on and with a board means you work the issue–not just the vote. You take the podium and make your case. You debate the issues. You challenge the opposition and make the reasons for the decision clear. You either get your 5 votes or go down trying. Your vote is worthless is you dont make the whole effort. It might make the audience feel good, but even that can be orchestrated…why only in election materials do people say they will FIGHT for things….and once on the board, acquiesence and polite exchanges become the status quo.

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