Pattye Benson

Community Matters

TE School District reorganization meeting: Election of Board president and vice president; plus update on Facilities Meeting

The five newly elected TESD school board members (Michelle Burger, Ed Sweeney, Roberta Hotinski, Todd Kantorczyk and Kate Murphy) take office on Monday, December 10, at 7:30 PM. The District’s reorganization meeting includes the nomination and election of school board president and vice president.

Some have suggested that former school president Kris Graham’s re-election defeat last month was a message for change from the community – a call for transparency and improved public engagement. Will that message influence the reorganization results?

School board vice president under Kris Graham was Easttown resident Doug Carlson and he looks to want to step up to the board president position. Also seeking the president role on the board is Tredyffrin resident Scott Dorsey.

For the first time in TE School District history, the school board of nine members now has a Democratic majority (5 D’s, 4 R’s). Presumably this should give Dorsey (D) an edge over Carlson (R) but … it is unlikely that all D’s will support Dorsey. However, Dorsey does have the public endorsement of newly elected school board member, Republican Ed Sweeney.

Committed to honoring his campaign promise of improving public information and citizen involvement, Sweeney posted the following on his Facebook page today, “I endorse Scott Dorsey for TE School Board President. My district elected me to fulfill their expectations. Mr. Dorsey is very concerned about the issues that I think Tredyffrin and my district care most about and is well qualified to be President. I was impressed with his ability to outreach in his campaign for Board President. Mr. Dorsey will partner with fellow members, residents, and stakeholders to bring a new spirit of cooperative government to our area.” Here’s hoping that all newly elected school board members will likewise honor their campaign commitments!

For those in the community that are paying attention, the first meeting of the new school board and the nomination/election process for board president should be interesting.

On another note, the final meeting of the ‘old’ school board was held on Friday, December 7. Ray Clarke attended the Facilities Meeting and provided the following update for Community Matters:

The last Facilities Committee meeting of 2015 and of Dr Motel’s 16 year tenure was held on Friday. The meeting was generally routine: discussion of minor change orders, an update on the ongoing New Eagle and Maintenance Building projects with helpful status photos, and an outline of the timetable for bidding next year’s projects. A few items caught my attention:

– Dr. Motel stated that the original rationale for the fences was for “the specific purpose of making sure students do not leave”, “nothing to do with active shooters” and “you can put that on the blog”. So here it is. Others may have different recollections.

– Resident Cindy Marturano tried to engage the Committee in a discussion of protocols for communication to all residents of facilities projects that impact the community, linked with the possibility of extending West Walker Road to Chesterbrook Boulevard to ease the traffic congestion at VFMS. The response to both points came down to: “if it’s a road matter talk to the Township”. However, Tredyffrin Township records show that West Walker Road is “Private”, and the Chester County GIS has the property line between the school and church running right down the middle of the road. On the other hand, the Township included West Walker Road on its list of roads to pave in 2015. Are the maps incorrect? Is Tredyffrin subsidizing the School District? Or is there more opportunity here for the School District to improve the daily nightmare than the District knows about or would like to accept?

– The outgoing Committee spent some time discussing the goals for the 2016 Committee. Since that Committee will have a different composition with likely some newly elected Directors, this seemed rather presumptuous, but the Committee did not take kindly to the idea of including even a “Recommended” modifier, noting that the new Committee can always repeat the same exercise.

– This last point may be related to a gift to the Committee from Daley and Jalboot of a life size “Flat Pete”, with the request that it be used as a reminder of Dr. Motel for future Committees.

Dr. Motel noted that when his parents came to Easttown in the last century it was because TE was a highly rated school district. I think that the Board and staff are fortunate to serve a community that continues to be driven by this value.

Ray proFlat Petevided the following photo of the cardboard cutout of Flat Pete, as presented by the District’s architects, Daley & Jalboot. When asked about the bulls-eye on Dr. Motel’s chest, Ray explained that the necklace had a gold star one side and a bulls-eye on the other, presumably to represent Motel as a target.

I wasn’t at the meeting, but I found this gift rather bizarre. It was unclear if the Flat Pete cutout went home with Dr. Motel after the meeting or if it will continue to haunt the Facilities meetings going forward.

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  1. The Architect should be fired now and RFP’s (real ones) for a new one should go out today.

    This is a demonstration of a serious lack of judgment, which reflects a lack of maturity that cannot be tolerated going forward. This individual doesn’t understand that he works for the citizens and tax payers in this district who he is mocking and ridiculing by presenting such a tone deaf “gift.”

  2. So the architects thought that making fun of the fact that this person is a target of upset citizens was an appropriate idea? Then presented it at an open meeting? wow

  3. It may be wishful thinking, but I seem to have caught glimpses of Rev Dorsey showing the Board leadership and responsiveness to residents that we should expect from his experience and his campaign. If he is prepared to devote the time that the position requires, he may be the only chance for a change in tone from West Valley Road.

  4. The act speaks volumes. The architects don’t know their place. Had Board Members done this, it would be eye brow raising, this is from a VENDOR.

    Goes to show they have power the position doesn’t warrant. Goes back to what I say about chummy relationships built over time when term limits are not exercised.

    The architects put themselves above Board Members. That is clear.

    They showed us…………didn’t they.

  5. RE the West Walker Road extension to Chesterbrook Blvd. VFMS was in existence prior to Chesterbrook being developed. It would behoove the SD to see if the Chesterbrook master plan indicated a right of way option for an extension of West Walker Road.

    1. An update on the road ownership, and an explanation of how the maintenance and ownership can be recorded differently.

      Thanks to the responsive administration at Tredyffrin Township, I learned that West Walker Road was built by the School District, on land it owns, back in 1964. It was then dedicated to the Township as part of the road system, for which the Township accepted maintenance responsibility. The description of the road in the deed extends west to, or very close to, Chesterbrook Boulevard.

      So contrary to earlier remonstrances, it appears that this is not entirely a Township issue. Perhaps our new Board, if it wants to address the traffic issue, will approach it with a new degree of co-operation with the Township and community.

  6. Roads and traffic are township issues not something the school district has purview over. Go to the township meetings and voice you opinions there. I believe most of the township supervisors would get upset if they thought the school district was trying to take their authority away from them.

  7. I too support Scott Dorsey as School Board President. I nominated him for vice president last year. He is willing, able and ready to lead and communicate in a fair respectful manner.
    There are many important issues with this President election. The President runs meetings and appoints committees and Chairs. These committees and Chairs will influence the upcoming negotiations, contracts (TEAA,Superintendent and TENIG) and the fences.
    My support is for an experienced school board member like Dorsey who represents all regions as well as Region 2 specifically, as it is has largest number of voters.
    Dorsey makes sense. The voters deserve change.

    1. Liz,

      Am I correct that all 9 of you voted for the fences and the 2nd fencing consultant?

      You say that the Committees and Chairs will influence the upcoming negotiations and you include the Supt. Is his agreement up already? He’s been on the job 5 months. How does that work?

      How are Doug and Scott different? It seems to me, they voted almost exactly the same on every vote. I think you and Scott voted no on the raises for Admin. once or twice but other than that, you were all pretty unified. Please let me know if I’m wrong.

      Hope for citizens is with the new board members. There are 5 new and 4 remaining so we’ll see what happens.

      I would vote for Ed or Michelle for President. The others have demonstrated who they are.

      1. The members have to accept the nomination or want the office. So Michele and Ed are not wanting the position yet.
        Yes prior old votes were like you said but this is a new era with the public pushing back hard.

        Also after seeing what the safety consultant presented – his work was useless. He said fences dont increase safety. Motel said fences are for monitoring kids to keep them in. I think other staff watching the kids works better than fences if the purpose is keeping elopers in the property.

        Look on, click on the human resource tab and choose a contract. the contracts are worked on starting January with the contract date to end July 2017. The Superintendent’s contract was written for only 3 years so it may be 2018. TENIG contract has the same time frame as TEAA. So the negotiations start before the end of the contracts. Look on or call me.

        1. Liz,

          Thanks for your comment. I hope you continue to contribute your thoughts and opinions going forward. You are a valuable and appreciated resource for citizens.

          My comment regarding Ed or Michelle taking the President position was tongue in cheek. My point was to convey that I look to the 5 new members for supporting ideas and initiatives that benefit students, tax payers and parents.

          For the past year, we have been told that fences are for security. Now, Mr. Motel claims they are “for monitoring kids to keep them in.”

          What are the real reasons for the fences? Does anyone know? Is it because the decision was costly, in terms of money, time, energy, inconvenience, and effort so too painful for those who supported it to abandon it now even though logic and reason say that’s the right thing to do?

          Pattye, thanks for the update. I attended the meeting too. I agree with your assessment. No surprise that Kevin B. voted for Doug C. I don’t know Todd K. so not sure about his support for Doug over Scott. But as I stated earlier, not much difference between Scott and Doug anyway. They have voted and supported most directives from Administrators just like the other 7 for years.

          I was very impressed, most encouraged and thrilled with Michelle and Ed. For 2 BRAND NEW BOARD members to introduce and support a new communication initiative, especially when Virginia (no surprise) mired and mangled it all up by kicking that dented up, rusty can down the lane, again, it demonstrated their commitment and courage to follow through on their campaign promises for transparency and accountability. Virginia, when a tax payer comes to the podium and asks a question, answer it. It’s as simple as that.

          And how about Ken Roos, the solicitor. When new Board Members ask questions, or make suggestions or bring to the table a new idea that shifts power to the tax payer, we can count on Ken to let them know they asked the question at the wrong time, or stated it incorrectly, the wrong way and then he completely confuses tax payers by blurted out a barrage of confusing mumbo jumbo that no one understands. Thanks to Todd for pointing that out when at the seemingly end of Ken’s tirade, exposing the tactic by asking what the heck just happened. I thought the same thing Todd. It’s a common tactic used to confuse and obstruct new ideas. At least Ken had a decent tone. It wasn’t intimidating or threatening. Thank-you Ken for your decency.

          New Board Members. GREAT JOB. Don’t get worn down or intimidated by the confusing, slow play, tactics. Keep pushing forward. There are 5 of you. You have the majority.

  8. Update from tonight’s school board meeting — Easttown resident Doug Carlson (R) is president and Tredyffrin resident Scott Dorsey (D) is vice president. Doug and Scott were both nominated for president — the vote was 5-4 in favor of Doug.

    The five votes for Doug was himself, Virginia Lastner (R), Kate Murphy (R), Kevin Buraks (D) and newly elected Todd Kantorczyk (D).

    It was no surprise that Buraks supported Carlson as I think they have voted together on virtually every school board vote. However, it was surprising that newcomer Kantorczyk, a Democratic member from Tredyffrin, voted against his fellow Tredyffrin D in favor of the Easttown Republican. Guess it doesn’t matter that the Democratic members have the board majority. For the record, the school board members supporting Scott Dorsey for president were himself, were newly elected Michelle Burger (D), Roberta Hotinski (D) and Ed Sweeney (R), all from Tredyffrin.

    The good news is that it was a split vote versus a 9-0 vote that we have often seen from the school board. I am hopeful that this mat signal change is coming … that there will be more discussion held in front of the public with this new board and not the ‘united front’ that we come to expect.

    There was a lengthy discussion regarding the policy for citizens asking questions at Board meetings. With an appeal from Ed Sweeney and support from Michelle Burger, it will be an agenda item at the next Board meeting. As it now stands, citizens line up to ask their questions but receive no immediate responses. After all citizens questions are asked (and listed on a white board) the Board answers. The request from the public is that when someone asks a question, they receive an immediate response from the Board as it is down at the township meetings and was done at school board meetings until is was changed 2 years ago.

    1. Another important point from last night’s reorganization meeting — In his remarks upon accepting the vice president role, Scott Dorsey’s words were supportive and encouraging to the public. Rev. Dorsey addressed the need for things to change; I am confident that he will push for increased public engagement going forward.

      1. Pattye,

        Actions speak louder than words. The vote for the fences was 9-0…….for a year. The aides and Paras are outsourced. Liz was barred from executive meetings last year when discussing the outsourcing. I don’t recall ANY Board Member coming to her defense. (This had to have been illegal—–it disenfranchised her whole ward) What did Scott do?

        Neal submitted a RTK request from Art, requesting the minutes from the secret meetings, which Art denied, but thankfully Neal appealed and won.

        Ken Roos, the same solicitor who last night obstructed Ed’s request by weighing it down with a bunch of mumbo jumbo that I don’t even think he understood was the same solicitor who sat by while the Board conducted the secret meetings last year and should have advised Art to release the records to Neal when Neal first filed the RTK. It’s clear, by Ken’s actions then and last night, that he wants to keep information private and limited to Board Members, and probably just a few. And it’s clear by Scott’s action (inaction) and the others, because they went along, that they are all part of it.

        My hopes are with the new Board Members. Ask questions. Demand to Understand, just like Todd did last night. Do not be intimidated or afraid or shamed into silence.

  9. Me too, but talk is cheap and words mean nothing. I hope Scott finds the courage to follow through on the words he speaks.

    Getting back to Ken Roos and the events of last year. How could he possibly stand by and watch Board Member Liz Mercagliano be barred from executive secret Board Meetings. Liz, now that you are a private citizen, could you please walk us through what happened. Was Ken there when they barred you from entering the room? I’m assuming you were barred from entering the room. Is that what happened or did they call you first and demand that you stay away from the meetings? Did you feel intimidated? How in the world did that happen? Did Ken Roos know about it, or did the Board act alone? Is it legal to bar a sitting Board Member from meetings?

    I’d like to thank Neal Colligan for his sticktoitness on that event. If it weren’t for Neal, we wouldn’t know we were entitled to the information we were denied by our highly tax payer funded Business Manager, Art McDonnell.

  10. Ed Sweeney didn’t exactly come in like a wrecking ball but he gave me some hope for a new Board that cares about the community. It was a shame that his plea for the Board to quickly address the simple issue of addressing community questions got overwhelmed in bureaucracy, but that maybe means they will also address other long-standing problems like the lack of historical data on the web site.

    And as others have said, Rev Dorsey appears to have embraced the leadership potential of his Vice-President role. Strong leadership will be essential as the District deals with cost pressures against a background of the declining inflation-adjusted household income reported in the Inquirer last week-end. I encourage everyone to view the video of his acceptance remarks.

    1. I give Ed Sweeney credit.. he responded ..which was more than the other blank stares I got after bringing the issue up. A simple thank you for your comment would have been better than total silence.

  11. Communication is the most important key to leadership success. Passion and commitment from school board directors to implement good communication methods with stakeholders is the perfect place to start.

    When Board leaders state, “it’s a volunteer position” like one did again Monday night, it says to me they don’t have the passion, commitment, time, energy or interest in effectively executing the duties of their most important volunteer job.

    That’s a kick the can down the lane, obstruct new ideas, mire creative suggestions in bureaucracy and remain status quo at all costs attitude.

    I don’t feel sorry for people who run for the School Board, win and hold position representing tax payers.

    New School Board Directors, Thanks for your passion and commitment.

  12. How quickly memory fades on the “rationale” for the fences. Motel was most definite in his assertion, on a number of occasions (which I personally heard at Facilities meetings..that the purpose of fences (particularly at VFMS) was to mark their borders. Student security was of course given lip service, but no cogent rationale for this was ever provided. When it was claimed that the original Safety consultant (the ex-police chief of Tredyffrin) recommended fencing, residents demanded to see this report and were stonewalled by McDonnell. For the good Doctor to now claim in his swan song that his fence is keep elopers inside, is another example of his outrageous and disingenuous behavior. Glad to see him hit the road.

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