Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Looking for public updates from the TE School Board on District lawsuits, teacher contracts … but none given!

Communication + Transparency = Trust

I attended the final TESD school board meeting of the 2016-17 school year on Monday night for several reasons.

First, I wanted to hear the District’s statement about the two important lawsuits filed in the last couple of weeks.

  • On May 17, Thomas Batgos, an assistant Conestoga High School football coach fired by the T/E School District in the aftermath of the alleged hazing and sexual assault filed a lawsuit against District administrators – Superintendent Dr. Richard Gusick and Conestoga High School Principal Dr. Amy Meisinger. The lawsuit cited defamation of character, misrepresentation, fraud, improper termination, etc. and seeks damages of at least $50,000 in compensation plus punitive damages.
  • On May 8, a Federal lawsuit was filed against T/E School District and Conestoga High School Principal Dr. Amy Meisinger. The lawsuit alleges that District administrators and teachers at Conestoga HS tolerated a culture whereby Arthur Phillips, a 67-year-old instructional aide could repeatedly sexually abuse a 15-year old female student. The lawsuit filed by the parents of the student, seek damages of at least $75,000 in damages and calls for the resignation of Dr. Meisinger.

There was no statement from the school board on these lawsuits. Nothing, nada, zippo … I get that this a legal matter but what about an acknowledgement from the school board that the lawsuits exist? What about a reassurance that all policies/procedures related to suspected sexual abuse will be reviewed and updated as needed? The TE School District is more than school rankings and the number of college acceptances — it is the safety of our children!

The law firm in the federal lawsuit, Ross Feller Casey, has won record-setting awards for its clients, including victims of predatory sexual abuse like seven men who were victimized by Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. This lawsuit has the potential to bankrupt the District financially and yet the board makes no public statement.

Secondly, I attended the school board meeting to receive an update on the District teachers’ contract, the non-instructional employees (TENIG) contract and the Act 93 (administrators) agreement – all three of these contracts are due to expire in two weeks, on June 30, 2017.

There was no statement from the school board on the status of the TEEA or TENIG contracts.

The school board did however approve a raise of 1.7% plus a 1% bonus for District administrators to extend the Administrator Compensation Plan (Act 93 Agreement) through June 30, 2018.

And finally, I attended the school board meeting to see how the school board was going to handle the passing of the final budget for 2017-18 given that the TEEA and TENIG contracts and the Act 93 Agreement account for 70% of the budget and these items were labeled ‘TBD’ (to be decided) in the budget. During the budget discussion prior to the vote, there was no discussion about needing any contingencies for these (soon to expire) contracts in the budget.

Although the preliminary budget had contained a 3.435% tax increase, the board agreed to lower the tax increase before approving the final budget. The school board passed the budget 9-0 with a 3.2% tax increase for 2017-18. The newly passed budget assumes no increases for teachers and non-instructional employees. By my calculations, this budget for 2017-18 marks 13 consecutive years of tax increases. You would have to go all the way back to the 2004-05 to find a ‘no tax increase’ year.

I attended the school board meeting expecting to hear updates about specific important issues facing the school district. Instead I left the meeting feel very disheartened about the lack of information. The school board has a responsibility to involve the community and to communicate clear information to the public. The importance of transparency and providing public information to the community cannot be understated.

Share or Like:


Add a Comment
  1. “”””””””””What about a reassurance that all policies/procedures related to suspected sexual abuse will be reviewed? “”””””””””
    Why does anyone need a policy/procedure to tell them that when you’re aware of a teacher repeatedly sexually assaulting a 15 year old student that you report that immediately to authorities? That is the real question. Do these teachers and Administrators have any humanity? Is this sport to them? Are the teachers and Administrators named in the suit still teaching?

    Every single one of these employees should be fired now, not given raises and bonuses.

    1. It is my understanding that the teacher who allegedly double-dated with Phillips and the student was replaced by a long term sub shortly after the charges surfaced. This information did not come directly from the school district so is not verified.

      If we presume that the teacher, who double dated with Phillips and the student, was removed from her T/E position (even temporarily) does she continue to receive her salary (under “innocent until proven guilty” idea) and in addition, the District bears the cost of a long-term sub. In the big scheme of things, I suppose this cost is incidental to what will be the on-going legal fees to defend both of these lawsuits (not to mention that there is potentially a third lawsuit).

      1. This is not like the hazing scandal where proof was not forthcoming. The teacher and her husband either went on the date or they did not go on the date. There had to have been hundreds of witnesses. If she didn’t go on the date, why is she out with a long term sub at tax payer expense?

        1. That was my thought — however, remember the teachers’ removal from the classroom and the long-term sub has not been confirmed by the school district and/or school board.

  2. The board fired the football coaches before knowing that the charges weren’t true.

    Raises are issued to people who knew that this was going on. Teachers participated in it by going on “dates” with the couple.

    She was referred to as “Art’s girlfriend” by teachers. This is sick.

    1. Whoa. Not all teachers. I agree the teachers who did the things you mentioned should not get a raise – they should not be at CHS at all, but those who a) are literally sick to their stomachs over the fact that this happened at their school to one of their kids and b) go above and beyond to do their jobs should not suffer due to the actions of some seriously sick people. This is the vast majority of teachers, might I add. Most people who study to become teachers in fact abhor the people who would do such horrible things to children. They are there to teach, nurture and be positive role models. There are TESD teachers not sleeping at night because something so depraved happened at their place of work and that other teachers knew and condoned it.

      1. Thank you for this comment. T/E is a good school district with many, many wonderful teachers and aides.

        I can only imagine how difficult this situation must be to those who work in the District, especially at the high school. And certainly all the good teachers should not be judged by the actions of a few. That said, there are 14 teachers/administrators other than the high school principal who allegedly had various levels of knowledge of the ‘relationship’ between Phillips and the student – who spoke of the girl as ‘Art’s girlfriend’ – who accepted multiple hall passes signed by an aide – who didn’t report failing grades of a straight A student, etc. etc. These teachers/administrators allegedly knew that something wasn’t right with the picture, yet didn’t do anything. For those teachers/administrators that had no idea what was going on, I am truly sorry that this happened at your place of work.

  3. Every teacher and Administrator who knew about this and did nothing should be replaced with professionals who have the ability to understand and judge what is right or wrong and act accordingly.

    It is impossible to fathom how a culture like this could originate and thrive and grow. Last years incident didn’t faze them. An Administrator defended Art to the Mother when she called in to report suspicious behavior. The Mother became aware of the situation, not the authorities in the school District.

  4. Scott Dorsey said nothing? Isn’t he a Minister? Of who, the rich and powerful employees of TE? How can he stand by and say nothing, supporting people in power who so blatantly and cavalierly allowed this to happen?

    1. Neither the school board or the administration has made any public statement about the lawsuits. Phillips was arrested on 100 counts of sexual abuse of a 15-year old student and much of the abuse was alleged to have occurred at the high school during school hours — in his Conestoga office, in the high school’s TV studio or in his car in the school parking lot. But no one says anything!

      It’s as if this is the twilight zone – with two parallel universes. There’s the public appearance that everything is fine as the District celebrates another successful school year but on the flip side we have a Federal lawsuit filed in the last week for for the continued sexual abuse of a 15-year old girl by a Conestoga high school aide.

  5. I can understand no comment by the board about lawsuits. I cannot understand raises. Perhaps the board AND administration need to be replaced.

    1. I am concerned about the status of the teachers contract and TENIG contract and lack of public information. In a previous post, I mentioned that at the Finance Committee meeting last week, I asked which school board members were sitting at the negotiation table for the contracts. I was told by the Finance Committee chair Todd Kantorczyk that they would not make that information public even when I stated that during prior contract negotiations this was public information.

      You may (or may not) recall but in the current TENIG contract (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2017), the custodians received a 2% salary reduction and additionally had to give back 1 week of their vacation. (The rationale was that the District had to hire subs when the custodians are on vacation). The other members of TENIG (security, kitchen, maintenance, and cafeteria) received a 4% salary reduction in the contract but their vacation benefit remained intact.

      Why doesn’t the school board place an importance on public information — I just don’t understand!

  6. My taxes go up every year. The average teacher’s salary in TESD is higher than what I make, and I work a full 12 months. The administrators’ salaries are allegedly well over six figures. Why are our taxes going up 3 to 4 percent every year for a dozen years, with nobody speaking up for us? What good is a School Board if they are just a rubber stamp? Why does no one step up and demand transparency? No, all is not well in TESD La-La Land, no matter how hard they try to make it appear so.

    1. A judge in LM has ruled that the Administration and School Board did not act transparently or lawfully when they did the same thing TE does. Project deficits, raise taxes only to end up with huge surpluses.

      100% of your tax increases go to pay for outlandish salaries and pensions that you pay for. Board Members are either afraid, or in over their heads and allow this to happen year in and year out.

  7. A resident contacted me regarding the ‘lack of sound’ on the TESD access TV channel (Comcast Channel 14 and Verizon Channel 20). The resident had been unable to attend the school board meeting and wanted to watch/hear it.

    After checking myself that it wasn’t working on my on TV, I go to the District website and find T/E TV Studio. It gave this number (610) 240-1054 for information. I call the number — let it ring 25 times, no answer and no way to leave a message.

    Art Phillips was an instructional aide in the T/E TV Studio – let’s hope that his absence in the studio (due to his arrest for sexual abuse) is not the reason behind the sound problem! If someone in the administration or school board is reading this comment, perhaps they could get the sound back on for residents to hear the school board meeting!

    1. For me (I have Comcast) I have had sound problems for years. But only with the school board meetings. Awards ceremonies, sports, concerts and the morning show all come through perfectly as far as the sound. I have to turn the volume on the television up as far as it will go to barely be able to hear what’s being said at the school board meetings. Maybe that is by design….

  8. The citizens who are concerned should call and complain to the Department of Education.
    This appears to be an ethical violation Ak. The Board is not fulfilling its duty to communicate to the citizens.
    The Board sides to protect themselves and the administration not the children at risk.
    Google the Department of education.

    1. As I previously stated, I am not uploading the lawsuit to Community Matters. There are 14 T/E School District employees names identified besides Amy Meisinger. I am not going to redact every time these names are throughout the lawsuit. Second reason, as I sated previously the sexual details are extremely graphic and I don’t think any purpose is served by publicizing the actions of a 67 year old monster against a child. You stated in an earlier comment that residents can acquire their own copy as it is a public document.

  9. Interesting that Board Members Virginia Lastner and Roberta Hotinski justified the 3.2% tax increase by using scare tactics about PSER’s and enrollment increases. PSER’s costs are flattening out and enrollment is projected to decrease, not increase in the coming years.

    They talk about financial situations that may occur even though projections state the opposite of their dooms day “what ifs.” I’m sick and tired of scare tactics about future events that are projected to go the opposite way as their dooms day what ifs, as a way to justify tax increases. Roberta stated that the budget process is a good one that has worked over past years. It’s the same one used by LM where a judge ruled it illegal and mandated the School District issue refunds to tax payers.

    Tax increases are not about PSER’s and enrollment increases.

    1. Todd K, the finance chair talks about a $200,000 loss in revenue from tax appeals, but fails to mention the new Administrator positions authorized by the Board. The new position for Director of Federal and State Programs will cost the District in excess of $150,000 assuming no support staff is hired too. This together with the new Athletic Director position and new Secretary position saddles the District with an excess of $400,000 salary costs, benefits and pensions per year.

      Newly created Administrator Positions are hidden in Consent agendas while revenue decreases from tax appeals, speculation about PSER’s and enrollment increases and special ed costs and future “uncertaintees” are blamed for tax increases.

      What does a Director of State and Federal Programs Director do?

      I attended graduation. The mispronounced student names were like nails on a chalk board. It was nice of the Human Resources Director to practice the names of the retirees and pronounce them correctly at the School Board Meeting.

    2. Not that anyone cares…other than me; but this is not my post. I use my own name. There is an old commercial featuring the “Culligan Man” but it’s spelled differently than my last name.

    3. Culligan Man I agree. The whining and scare tactics have been going on since the start of time.
      There is always tax appeals, always deficits (made by the public school accounting process) no reality.
      As everyone knows the increase in new construction has increased tax revenue. The more that comes in the more the school spends!
      The budget has increased about 20 million since 2011.
      It seems no matter how much money is available from State, Federal or local there is never enough to satisfy the school.
      This is self made to increase salaries above inflation and simply be non accountable.

  10. The political landscape that fueled public outrage at union contracts and teacher salaries is slowly but surely flattening out. With pro-education movements thriving to counter Betsy Devos’s appointment combined with America’s constant fall in worldwide education metrics the atmosphere to claw back funds from educators, remove “special” curriculum from students, and slash money and benefits from teacher aids all in the name of a strong bottom line has lost general support.

    The TESD educators have had their benefits reduced, pension contributions increased, continued education reimbursement limited, and salaries/ step movements frozen in the course of the last two contracts. Those in TESD who expect this trend to continue and push for hard line negotiating from the Board should understand that these contracts are cyclical. One can only push so far and for so long in one direction before they are forced to relent and move in the other.

    It is my belief that this upcoming round of negotiations will begin to reflect that shift. TESD is the number 1 school district in the Country. Not the county, not the state but in all of America. The educators that staff our schools and support are children are second to none. Why do we continue to attack their compensation programs? Are the TESD teachers overpaid and over compensated? The numbers would certainly not support that. One only has to look at our boarders to Upper Marion School District to see teacher compensation much higher than TESD and overall school rankings much lower.

    Well what about the looming pension crisis? The pension crisis is drastically overstated and with Tom Wolf recently signing legislation to reform PA State pensions and slash future teacher benefits, much of the problem has already been resolved. For those budget hawks among us, TESD has a fund balance of 30 plus million. We are not a district in disrepair but one strongly positioned to maintain our number 1 school district status. Please stop focusing on small incremental tax increase and start focusing on the skyrocketing property values that we are all enjoying.

    1. Please stop focusing on small incremental tax increase and start focusing on the skyrocketing property values that we are all enjoying.

      I have to disagree —
      (1) “small incremental tax increases” add up to substantial cumulative tax increases – 13 years.
      (2) There are T/E real estate properties currently on the market that are seeing prices drop to below purchase prices of only 4 or 5 years ago. Where are your current statistics for ‘skyrocketing property values’ – I don’t see it.

    2. The TESD educators have had their benefits reduced, pension contributions increased, continued education reimbursement limited, and salaries/ step movements frozen in the course of the last two contracts.

      Welcome to the real world. Nice that you are finally joining the rest of us but you’re not quite there yet. Not until you have substandard healthcare benefits while you pay 30% of your pay for them, and your pension is eliminated because tax payers can’t fund yours, because tax payers aren’t getting their own.

      You make more money than people paying for your salary and you get 3 months off while we get less and work much longer and harder.

      Seriously, Stop

    3. Like any highly ranked school District, 1/3 of TE teachers are excellent, 1/3 are awful and 1/3 are middle of the road.

      No offense to you or any teacher, student success has nothing to do with teachers. It has to do with parents and the kids themselves. Donald Duck could teach the classes and the kids would find a way to succeed.

      Do you think if you changed your teaching assignment to Philly School District, the kids grades there would suddenly improve? I don’t think so. Again, no reflection on you one way or the other.

      1. Wow, that is just hilarious. Teachers now have no impact on students’ performance. Embarrassing comment.

    4. Some comments on the posting from My Two Cents:

      First, this post is one that casts the teachers as victims of a stingy school district. I’m unsure who wrote the post, but my guess would be someone involved with union negotiations. Let’s examine some the the points made in the post.

      Is TE the number one school district in the country? I have seen a number of national school rankings. I have not seen one that puts TE at “number 1 school district in the Country”.

      Have “[t]he TESD educators had their benefits reduced, pension contributions increased, continued education reimbursement limited, and salaries/ step movements frozen in the course of the last two contracts”? Let’s look at the compensation increases over a 5 year period to see how the educators have been treated. According to, the average classroom teacher’s salary increased from $79,630 in 2010-11 to $86,400 in 2015-16 or little less than 2% per year. This is not excessive. However, pension contributions skyrocketed over that same time period from 5.64% of salary ($4,491) to 25.84% ($22,326) of salary. Thus the compensation of the average teacher went from $84,121 to $108,726 or 6% per year. Compared to raises in the private sector, teachers are making out quite well!

      How about using the $30M fund balance to finance teacher raises rather than “focusing on small incremental tax increases”? Anyone with a bit of financial savvy will tell you that it’s a poor strategy to pay for ongoing expenditures (salaries) with one-time money (fund balance). It’s a recipe for bankruptcy.

      What we’re witnessing is the first publicity piece from the teacher’s union. Be prepared for more one-sided communications.

      1. I went to the website. Turns out T/E is among the top highest paid for administrators. Teachers’ salaries aren’t anywhere close to the top rankings. There’s a big discrepancy there. If we’re really so amazing as a school district, wouldn’t you think the two stats would rank similarly among their school district peers?

        And if you’ve studied statistics, you’d realize that that $81,062 average salary could be inaccurate as it is most likely thrown off by quite a few outliers. Any statistician worth their salt will remove outliers that are a pre-determined amount of standard deviations away from the mean, but this is a website using public data and a simple average equation. Most teachers do not make anywhere close to $81,000, but there are quite a few teachers who have advanced degrees and have been in the school district for their entire career (i.e. making >$100,000.)

        Please make sure you are thinking critically when looking at facts and figures. Sometimes with things like this, it is better to look at it from a social science (qualitative evaluation) perspective rather than a quantitative, numbers-based approach.

        I’m not saying the teachers don’t make a lot of money. We pay their salary. We want to see justification. But I’m a logical person – if all teachers really and truly made give or take $81,000, I can guarantee you I’d see a lot fewer tiny Hyundais and Kias in the parking lot when I go to pick my kid up.

        1. biostat,

          Contrary to your statement that “most teachers do not make anywhere close to $81,000” you will find that most teachers EARN OVER $81,000. (the median salary is $86,400) If you’d like to look for outliers or do other statistical tests, the 429 classroom teacher salaries can be downloaded as an xls file from opengov site.

          As for your suggestion that “it is better to look at it from a social science (qualitative evaluation) perspective” – what criteria would you suggest the two sides at the negotiating table use to determine compensation increases?

      2. Keith – I did as you recommended and downloaded the .xls. Haven’t run it through analysis as I am traveling but just using Excel I can see there’s great disparity among teachers that have been in education the same amount of years and have similar education. Any idea why this would be? I agree most numbers are on the high side for sure, but filtering for Master’s Degree for example visually looks to have a low correlation coefficient, i.e. some teachers with the same stats have ~$20K difference between them. Lower r value than I’d recommend my customers using at least. Thoughts?

        1. Are you familiar with TE’s salary matrix? If not, download the teacher’s contract from here:

          Go to page 35 to see the matrix. The columns relate to increasing educational credits. The rows refer loosely to the number of years of experience. The reason you are seeing quite a bit of difference between teachers with the same degree and years of experience is because there can be a big difference between someone with just a master’s degree and someone with a master’s degree plus 60 credits. Don’t confuse these extra 60 “credits” with real college credits. Most citizens think that teachers would attend an ACCREDITED class at a local university such as Villanova taught by a PhD professor with challenging examinations on subject matter such as Understanding the Autism Spectrum Disorders or Differentiated Instruction – a course that is worthy of the taxpayer’s investment in tuition and additional salary. But a shadow industry has emerged to “game the system”. This industry offers a number of 3 credit courses that add little to teaching effectiveness but lead to quick and easy salary increases. I have not done a right to know request for the course names at TE, but I did so at Lower Merion.

          Here is a sampling or these “weighty” 3 credit courses paid for by Lower Merion taxpayers:
          – I’m So Stressed I could Scream!
          – Understanding and Dealing with Difficult Parents
          – Understanding the Designed World
          – 3D Projects for the Classroom: Glass Fusing and Slumping

          1. As a resident of TE School District, I am grateful for Keith’s expertise — as a former school board director in Unionville Chadds Ford School District, Keith has a much greater understanding of teacher negotiations than most of us, including myself! Thank you Keith!

        2. Keith, you’re awesome! That matrix was incredibly helpful. Those classes you listed… yikes! Like in the business world, a shame we haven’t closed loopholes that allow the lazy to take advantage of the system. I’m sure there’s some teachers working hard in real, accredited, strenuous classes while others take those shams you listed. I’d be very curious to know why there is an EXORBITANT jump in salary between Master’s and Master’s+15. Then so small of a jump between Master’s+15 and Master’s+30 that it’s not even worth it. Unbelievable. Thank you for your expertise, it is very much appreciated.

        3. biostat,

          The reason for “jumps” in the matrix is because sometime in the past the union got the power to distribute the increased money on the matrix in any way they wanted.

          It’s typical for an inexperienced board to agree to increase the money in the matrix by, say, 3%. Most people would expect 3% to be added to each cell in the matrix. But the union people at the table are smart and will distribute the money to their advantage. Little will go to steps 1 to 4 since these teachers are typically too new to be at the table. Most of the money will be in the bottom right hand corner – teachers, like those at the table, who have years of experience with lots of accumulated credits.

        4. Keith, that is very troubling. I’m an unrepentant capitalist, but that percentage should absolutely be distributed equally. The union can’t say some credits are worth more than others. From years 7 to about 13, the difference in pay for just 15 more credits + a Master’s and just a Master’s is a little bit too steep for my liking. I do believe the union is taking advantage of the teachers in the Bachelor’s and Master’s brackets.

    5. Tired of hearing how great TESD is when high school administrators making six figures who purport to have PhDs mispronounce dozens of kids’ last names at HS graduation.

    6. Can you comment on the best health care Blue Cross plan? ZERO ZERO ZERO ZERO deductible, low co pays and low drug prices.
      public school employees pay a fair share for their health care or mandate spouses or partners use their own work benefits if they have benefits like the county employees do?

      I am self employed paying $4000. per month for a family of 3 and $6000.00 per person deductible per year. Medicare recipients pay premiums, co pays, and purchase secondary insurances.
      Please explain how an average salary for 192 days per year in the high 80’s with a healthy health care benefit and a healthy pension is NOT FAIR? The so called called crisis is flattening as the taxpayers continue to pay. The crisis will be averted when the school employees can choose their own private investors who can make money in this wonderful healthy stock market.
      Lesson is dont rely on others to invest your proactive and in control.
      In addition to benefits, there are paid holidays, sick time, weekends off, summers off, sabatical and holidays off.
      Some professions can not unionize or threaten to strike or call the news stations.

      And the school is ranked high based on different criteria. But there is no mistake that the families and their values are the main reason children succeed.
      The kids are supported and loved by their families as well as exposed to outside enrichment.
      Parents are highly educated and direct their children to do their best. Without strong educated families these kids would not succeed.

  11. A neighbor talked in the comment period about cutting costs where possible. Other expenditures are 4% a year. He asked that the Board bring under control what can be brought control.

    He was told that we have to maintain our facilities and the 4% goes towards keeping the schools operational. Does keeping the schools functional mean building a $4M to $6M maintenance building and then hiring someone to run it?

    This is not my idea of maintaining the facilities.

    The Board has to change it’s Mind Set. Before any cost savings occurs, Directors have to shift their perspective away from what administrators tell them is appropriate to what is most cost effective for the tax payer and beneficial to students.

  12. I work in the private sector and own a local software company. My staff is provided healthcare and simple IRA matching. To maintain our competitiveness we also provide a profit sharing program to all tenured employee’s ( staff over 1 year ) in addition to 3 weeks paid vacation. The private sector is not all gloom and doom like you say. Good companies provide skilled employees with great compensation. With the nation’s unemployment rate at 4% salaries across America are increasing. In my field it is a struggle to find skilled candidates to fill open positions. I really don’t understand the vitriol on this site placed towards educators.

    Teachers picked a career, they went to college to train for that career and the vast majority of them have advanced degrees in their chosen path. Education comes with rewards. We moved to TE to give our children the best education we could find. We want our children to benefit from that education, we want our property to hold its value. Why are we constantly attacking the people and system that supports the most important things in our lives. Our children and our property. I just don’t understand.

  13. For someone who works in the private sector, My two cents, you know an awful lot about the way education works in TE and Districts around TE. Most people don’t know who Betsy Devis is and they certainly don’t know about intimate details of past teacher contracts like do but OK, even though I don’t believe you are who you say you are, I’ll play.

    Even if the employment situation is what you say in “your” industry, education is quite different. There are hundreds of applicants for teacher jobs. No shortage here.

    Starting salaries for college grads in various fields aren’t anywhere near TE starting salaries and these jobs require working long hours, year round, no pension and substandard healthcare that the employee contributes way more than teachers in TE.

  14. My Two Cents,

    You would have much more credibility if you stopped using a pseudonym. Come out in the open! What do you have to hide?

  15. After watching the Board meeting video I’m glad I did not change my plans to be present for a mutual admiration society meeting reminiscent of a US Presidential Cabinet. Although I missed my annual tilt at the windmill of the salary increases for Business Office staff (Supervisor/Confidential) that are 40% more than the Act 1 Index and 2.5x the rate of inflation – as they have been for at least the past three years. No explanation of the justification for these increases and no questions whatsoever from the Board. It’s not as if they spent any time on more important matters. Of course the Administration will always ask for the maximum it can extract from the community; the TESD Board does not seem to understand their role to constrain that objective on behalf of the entire community. (Oh, and BTW: don’t think that the Admin/Act 53 increases are just 1.7% – there are a number of compensated additional assignments to produce increases more like 5%).

    So where does this leave the union contract negotiation? The 3.5% increase for Supervisor/Confidential sets one benchmark. It’s definitely worthwhile to consider some data, as Keith and others here are doing. Teacher salary analysis is complicated by the matrix that increases salaries for years of service and degrees/certifications. So the aggregate and individual impacts are completely governed by distribution on the matrix.

    It’s interesting to compare the October 2016 distribution with that from 2010. In both cases almost exactly one third are on the top step. Now, though, another third are on the next four steps, whereas only a quarter were there five years ago. There is also a big increase at the bottom end: 13% with four years or less experience versus 5% five years ago. Addressing the issues of staff at the ends of the matrix will be important to a successful outcome.

    These changes in the matrix and the fact that the matrix salaries themselves did not change in the last contract (staff moved down and across) have the interesting result that the average salary has not changed much in recent years: currently (before this year’s retirements) $84,365 versus about $83,217 in 2011/12 (using the 2010 matrix). (The 2008/9 average was much lower, $75,131, again using the 2010 distribution). Note that the current median salary is $89,100. The “breakage” from replacing retiring teachers with those at lower levels is the main reason that TESD has over-performed an expense budget which does not properly account for that, and that continues to this day.

    So, over the last five years the average and the top levels have grown a small 1% or so. For those that have moved into the top level, though, the increases have been substantial: 29% from the average level 11 in 2011/12 to level 16 now. A teacher who has persisted from level 8 in 2008/9 has seen a 68% salary increase.

    Since teachers have also been paying a percentage more of their healthcare premiums each year for the last three, I can see that the union may be feeling it’s time to take a stand and move the matrix, particularly at the top, which drives the retirement calculation. With available resources limited by Act 1, this will be hard to swallow, but a realistic analysis of breakage may lessen the expected impact. (The impact of Harrisburg’s recent pension actions could be profound and deserve a separate analysis).

    These thoughts do not pretend to judge the relative levels of teacher and tax-payer incomes, nor to address all the additional costs of PSERS, social security, healthcare, sick days, tuition reimbursement, EDRs, and so on. Although it seems reasonable to assert that the taxpayer should not be expected to bear the entire increases in those costs. Another benchmark: the WSJ reported this week that average annual hourly wage growth has just recently ticked up from the 2% seen since 2010 to about 2.75% in 2017.

    Which makes the blind acceptance of the 3.5% Supervisor/Confidential increases all the more disgraceful. We can expect the TEEA to drive a hard bargain, and demand compensation increases to be paid for by maximum tax increases from an Act 1 Index north of 3% plus Exceptions based on prior year increases in PSERS and Special Education costs

    1. Thanks Ray for your comments — now aren’t you glad that you watched the entire school board meeting! :) Could you tell me how many actual teachers saw the 29% increase (move from level 11 to level 16) and how many received a 68% increase for moved from level 8 to level 16.

      For those that have moved into the top level, though, the increases have been substantial: 29% from the average level 11 in 2011/12 to level 16 now. A teacher who has persisted from level 8 in 2008/9 has seen a 68% salary increase.

    2. Wow…that’s the type of background knowledge I hope the folks representing the District have studied for negotiations…fact-based important historical perspective. Of course, these employees are part of the fabric of our community School franchise and they are not the enemy. Still, they are represented by State Union negotiators and this is their opportunity to get a favorable compensation package for the next several years. Both sides are represented by outside firms; so it get removed one step from people in our community. But, it is important. The District budget is over $130 MM…70% of those costs go to personnel costs (subject to negotiated contracts) and the contract will last several years….it’s a $200 MM decision…the largest municipal contract in our community. That’s why updates to the Community are essential.

      It does seem odd to me that the Act 93 employee contract got done first…this is usually the last piece of the negotiating season. Perhaps as Ray mentioned…the District wanted that increase set as a benchmark. It’s very odd and may indicate some trouble in the bargaining sessions with the two larger groups…we’ll never know.

      On the main topic of this post: I understand the outrage of parents in the community. As I am not in that group; I can’t relate directly but found the comments enlightening. I do worry about the financial fall-out. What if this lawsuit is found to be substantiated? What if our District is responsible for allowing this culture of “looking the other way when children are being exploited”? Does this open the door for other victims? Does parents in the community feel outraged enough to create a class-action claim? What is a proper “settlement” for these exploited young people? The nature of the alleged offence points to multi-multi-millions of dollars if the District is found responsible. Does this put the entire School District in financial jeopardy? Don’t the parents deserve some assessment of that risk? Don’t the taxpayers? At a minimum, the District will be tied up with Discovery and Depositions and legal work for the next year? Should we not estimate that financial impact to our Schools?

      I can understand not litigating this case in the public…that helps no one BUT an acknowledgement of the possible financial fall-out should be a part of the information given to the interested members of the community…..IMHO.

      1. I can understand not litigating this case in the public…that helps no one BUT an acknowledgement of the possible financial fall-out should be a part of the information given to the interested members of the community

        Thanks Neal! Whether its the acknowledgement that lawsuits were filed, particularly this latest Federal lawsuit, or updates on teacher or TENIG contracts due to expire in a few days, the school board offers no public information whatsoever — which makes attending school board meetings all the more frustrating! For those that watched the last board meeting, you will note this almost gleeful expression of “all is well” attitude from the superintendent and the school board. I get that it was the end of the year with many retiring employees to celebrate but it was almost as if this background of federal lawsuits and unsigned contracts didn’t even exist. I just don’t get how the board can put this facade up — as some commented, it truly is La, La Land. I think that residents deserve better when it comes to public information, especially given the potential financial impact that these issues have on the community!

        For the record, I filed a right-to-know request with the school district a week ago (June 9) asking for copies of the ‘legal’ invoices paid by the District between July 1, 2016 and June 9, 2017. The school district is given 5 days to respond to the RTK request. I have received a response from the District stating there would be a 30-day extension to fill the request. Between the football hazing incident, two lawsuits (with potential of a third lawsuit), teachers contract and TENIG contract negotiations, we can only guess the legal costs to date.

        1. I’ll bet when the 30 day extension is up your request will be denied. Question-Did Art McD get another raise? When is his contract up?

          1. The District business manager has 2 more years on his 5 year contract — it does not expire until June 30, 2019! And yes, he is covered by the Act 93 Agreement and received a raise plus yearly bonus. We’ll see what happens with me right-to-know request — I hope that it is approved because otherwise, it would force an appeal. From my vantage point, financial information (such as District’s legal fees) should be available to the public and not require a resident to file a right-to-know request.

        2. Pattye,

          Thank-you for filing a RTK request asking for the legal invoices for the past year. I’m curious about this expense since I saw the civil law suit filed on behalf of the hazing victim last fall.

          Please post the results when they come in.

          1. Yes, I plan to make public the legal costs paid by the District. The right-to-know request asks for the legal invoices paid between July 1, 2016 – June 9, 2017 (the filing date of my request).

        3. Pattye,
          Have you received an answer to your RTK request asking for the cost of legal fees?

          Although the payout to victims in the Sandusky sexual abuse scandal was very high, the legal fees were higher. Wonder if it will be the same here.

      2. Even though you’re not in the parent group, you can’t relate to one whose 15 year old daughter was sexually groomed and assaulted for months in your local high school that your tax dollars go to support? I don’t think it takes being a parent to feel outrage by that.

        We’re now discussing how much of a pay increase to “award” employees for this “work.”

        No one should be receiving a raise. Administrators should be on their knees in front of the Board apologizing profusely for this deplorable behavior on their watch. They should resign immediately and at the VERY LEAST demand that their pay be cut substantially.

        We gave them raises? That is outrageous. Who are the Board Members that went along with this? Did someone say something?

        Didn’t the President of Penn State under the Sandusky scandal get sentenced to prison? And we’re talking about raises and increases for employees who should be fired?

        Someone please help me understand this.

        1. Absolutely feel the outrage. I’ve been very critical of the Board in the past and didn’t want to be seen as piling on.

          The question I’ve always had is: who sets the “tone” for this workplace?In the past, Dan Waters was certainly in a leadership role when it came to setting the agenda (and I assume the personality) of the workplace. That left the Board to busy themselves with day-to-day operations. That always seemed backwards to me…I expected the Board to be more forward-thinking. Now we likely have a multiple examples of a “see no evil-report no evil” workplace attitude.

          Where are the Leaders… who is taking this as a personal mission to fix??? What we see in the public is raises being given to the District Administration at a fairly substantial rate….that’s not a good signal at a time like this.
          No one in the Admin or the elected Board has stepped out to try to “fix” any of this…or even acknowledge the issue. Based on the velocity of recent events, I surmised months ago that the District may be subject to a lawsuit/lawsuits based on this institutional attitude that allows certain behaviors.

          And what is being done: ” we’re reviewing our Policies and Procedures….”. That kind of Leadership will insure more similar incidents!! On top of that, the public is in the dark on the largest municipal contract in our community. We can’t justify high Admin pay increases and even the close observer can’t tell who is Leading the District. Yet, happy faces all around in the public meetings!

          Sorry for mis-spellings…IPad post.

        2. After reading Pattye’s blog post and the comments, I watched the school board meeting. I have to agree with many of you, who is in charge? The board goes through the motions but its as if none of them see how they look to the public. They pass a mega-million budget with tax increase (again!) without comment about a contingency for the teachers or TENIG contracts. They make no statement about the lawsuits as if somehow by not mentioning them, they really don’t exist. What is that about?

          Listening to the Supt. go on and on at the meeting about all the school district successes, is that to mitigate or better yet make the residents forget about all the DA investigations this past school year. Don’t think its working.

          Seriously, are we supposed to believe that all’s perfect in the #1 school district. If the board and the admin have it their way, I guess so.

          I thought we elected leaders, where are they?

        3. We made what we must now defend against because citizens, parents and taxpayers like you feel shame and guilt for speaking up about the financial budget that effect us.

          You are not “piling on” because you want accountability from people who spend their time concocting ways to trick the public and enrich themselves while they ignore innocent students they are entrusted to protect.

          More citizens need to “pile on”, speak up and get involved so this culture of institutional neglect is addressed and eradicated from the halls of our schools.

          The Board is responsible for the actions or inactions of the Administration. Citizens are responsible for electing Board Members.

          Don’t ever feel shame or guilt about speaking out. We need more citizens to speak out. That’s how this monster was created. Silence. Now the monster wants to be fed. What happens when we keep feeding the monster because we don’t want to deal with it? It gets bigger, stronger, louder and meaner. Let’s get it in check now, by speaking up.

    3. Ray,

      Who makes up the Supervisor/Confidential group? Are they members of TENIG? What are their job titles? Do they work in the schools? Why are they receiving 3.5% increases now? Thanks.

      1. The supervisor/confidential employees are not part of the TENIG union. As an example, Mary Minicozzi is Business Manager Art McDonnell’s ‘confidential secretary’. She was formally the TENIG president and a secretary in the District. Once she became McDonnell’s confidential secretary, she was no longer in TENIG but received a substantial raise.

        Go to the 2017-18 budget agenda,
        and look at page 294-95, it lists the names of the employees with their base salaries, one-time raises and the hourly rates.

        Using Minicozzi as an example, her base salary as secretary to McDonnell is $70,519, plus bonus $705 and hourly rate of $33.90. Things have certainly come along ways when it comes to wages for secretarial support!

        1. Superintendent’s Report
          June 12, 2017
          Agenda VI
          I, D
          : Supervisory and Confident
          ial Employee C
          ompensation Adjustments for 2017-
          2018 and June
          One Time Payment
          Richard Gusick, Superintendent of Schools
          Action Under Consideration:
          That the Bo
          ard of School Directors approves the
          attached Supervisory and Confidential Employee Compensation Plan and
          recommendations for supervisor/confidential employees, effective Jul
          y 1, 2017;
          one time payments for supervi
          dential employees, for June 2018
          in the form
          Questions from the Board
          Comments and/or Questions from Community Members
          Board Discussion/Deliberation/Action
          Proposed 2017-
          y and Confidentia
          l E
          Rates Effective July 1, 2017-
          June 30, 2018
          Base Salary
          June 2018 One

          Time Bonus
          Murphy, F
          Superintendent’s Report
          June 12, 2017
          Murphy, M

        2. Are you saying that Supervisor/Confidential are the Administrators Secretarys support staff? These salaries are heart stopping. I have never heard of such a thing.

          One is listed at making $130,781. What is a support person’s job who makes $130,781? Is this person a secretary? My boss doesn’t make anywhere near $130,781.

          How does this group who makes so much money to begin with, get away with getting 3.4% raises especially in this climate where children, parents and tax payers have been so violated, disrespected and ignored?

          I pay hundreds if not in the thousands sometimes for my kids to participate in activities in the schools, from music to sports. The school and their parent lackeys are always in your pocket, brazenly with no decency shaking parents down for money. I do it because I’m told there is no money in the budget and to see what school district employees make and the raises they get, is insulting to say the least.

          School Board, don’t give the moon because employees already making double and triple what the rest of us make ask for it. What are you afraid of? They can go get a job in Upper Merin where My two cents says things are so much better. Then hire someone at the much lower going rate to take their place. Give parents a voice. Aren’t you supposed to listen to us?

    4. Ray,

      The Administration, teachers and especially “Supervisor/Confidential”, evidenced by their 3.5% increase, deserve these raises due to the stress caused by the results of their extreme incompetence.

      1. Just to say that I know a number of these folks in the Supervisor/Confidential category and they are not all incompetent. However, the issue is: how much of a raise do they merit in a 2% inflation world, when productivity increases are zero, when the money available to pay salary increases is limited under the law, and when people lower down the food chain (eg aides) are given 1.7% increases?

  16. Excuse Me! I feel like I’m in an alternate universe. Why are we talking and arguing about raises for employees who stand by while our children are being abused by them.

    No one should be getting a raise. We need to stop, right now, catch our breath and deal with an employee culture that allows children to be sexually assaulted. People should be fired for this behavior, not rewarded with raises.

    What is wrong with you people?

  17. I am disgusted by the complacency of the TESD superintendent, the administration and especially the Conestoga administration. And why do we bother to elect a School Board when not one of its members has the guts to stand up and challenge the yearly fat raises, big tax hikes for residents, etc. while two staff members are charged with molesting students at the high school and the overly compensated HS principal and vice principal can’t even take the time to ask their highly compensated admins to draw up a phonetically spelled list of graduates’ last names so the kids can truly their proud moment after 13 years of study?

  18. Lower Merion school district officials say they will take their latest appeal to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court after the rejection of its latest appeal Monday. The one-sentence court order was issued Monday afternoon.

    “Now, June 19, 2017, having considered appellant’s application for reargument and appellees’ answer in response thereto, the application is denied,” according to the order issued by President Judge, Commonwealth Court Mary Hannah Leavitt.

    “This is another huge win for the people because it shows that the law will prevail over the misrepresentations and lies of an out of control school district, its 630 lawyers and 600 more on the appeal and the unlawful practices embraced by the Superintendent and Business Manager,” Wolk said in email to Main Line Media News following the court’s latest decision.

    “While the District is disappointed that the Commonwealth Court determined not to review the order issued by one of its panels, the District — as it has previously said it would — intends to request the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hear the District’s appeal from the panel’s order,” according to the district’s statement provided by spokesman Doug Young.

    This marks the third time Wolk has won over the district in the suit. Last August, Montgomery County Judge Joseph Smyth called the district’s 2016-2017 4.4 percent tax increase unlawful and ordered the district to rescind it and instead enact a tax increase of 2.4 percent. In April, the Commonwealth Court upheld that decision.

  19. The high pay is for the “confidential” part?
    Keeping the secrets and protecting the administrators?

    I would think the educators would be highly insulted because they are paid a lot less and do more than answer the phone or type up the agenda! It is really obscene. Use the money to protect the kids from incompetence and child predators. Or even better, use the money to treat the stressed suicidal drug using students to save their lives.

    The same old same old every year is horrible. Ray is right. there are many inequities and yet the kids are still doing well despite the inadequacies of the adults.

    The sad thing is the kids learn how to bully, turn the other way and not confront the authority figures who are taking advantage of the affluent area they teach in.

    There will be increases listed as percents. Ray how much did the last 3 year contract cost? Admin contract cost? confidential secretaries cost? superintendent cost, business manager cost? lawyer costs, architect costs?

    One thing is for sure no matter how much revenue, the school will claim poor! Spend more than you make!?

    1. 1.) Keeping the secrets and protecting the administrators?
      They keep secrets for Administrators who buy them off with big salaries. Why does the Board allow this? What does the Administration say to the Board to convince them that this is a good strategy that works when the results show over and over that it does not work?

      2.) The sad thing is the kids learn how to bully, turn the other way and not confront the authority figures who are taking advantage of the affluent area they teach in.

      I agree. The kids are “taught” to keep quiet by bullying and intimidation from the Administration and teachers, just like with the parents. They learn quickly that their voice does not matter and if they speak up they will be experience punishment for doing it. That’s why hazing, sexual assault bullying, intimidation spreads unchecked through the District. Kids and parents are punished when they speak up.

      But why does the Board allow this culture to exist? Why do they allow it to continue? Look where it has gotten us? Are they afraid of the Administration too?

      The code of silence has got to go. Our number 1 rated District can’t take much more of this. Amazingly, The kids go on and succeed even with all the issues swirling around them, but how much more can we expect from the them and the parents?

    2. $130,781? That’s a big secret someone is keeping. Another one is listed at $139,974.

      Does the Administration speak on behalf of this group? Does the Board sit down with each one of them and decide each one deserves a 3.5% raise?

      1. When Dan Waters was Supt. the breakdown was at his discretion — so can we assume that it is now up to Dr. Gusick? Liz Mercogliano, do you know?

      2. Its not a big secret if you are familiar with the TESD staff.
        The person making 130,781 is the district’s data processing manager. Then 139,974 is supervisor of maintenance & security plus the clerk of the works ( for all district projects)
        His assistant covers maintenance & custodial. Both of these people took over the jobs of retired supervisors . Three management positions got divided into two.
        As Ray said a LOT of these people do a good job.
        I feel its just a shame that the Act 93 raises/bonus plan was approved before the TEAA and TENIG contracts got settled..

        1. The average salary of a data processing manager in the private sector is $58,000. That’s generous. Less than half $130,781 paid in the TE school district.

      3. This group has a wide range of responsibilities, from the Controller and Facilities Manager through the Communications Specialist and Volunteer Coordinator to Secretary. In the past the Superintendent has spoken for the raises, although it seems that most of the staff work for the Business Manager. The Board has not been given any material in public meetings that detail the increases, and I have no reason to believe that they have any idea of the individual increases or their rationale.

  20. A clarification:

    Some secretaries are part of the TENIG group (unionized) others are classified as confidential secretaries as part of the Act93 group. What’s the difference?

    Confidential secretaries typically are assistants to the super, the asst super, the HR director and the business manager. They are privy to performance reviews and contract negotiation information that affects the TENIG group. They are separate from the TENIG group so as to prevent a conflict of interest.

    Typically, confidential secretaries work 12 months rather than 10 months thus commanding a higher salary. They shed the employment protections of the union contract and can be fired at will.

    1. Thanks for the clarification Keith. To illustrate — Mary Minicozzi was a secretary and in TENIG (and was president of TENIG union during the last contractions). Shortly after the signing of the last contract, she left TENIG to become business mgr Art McDonnell’s confidential secretary. It was she that responded to my right-to-know request request filed on June 9 for the District’s legal fees. As an aside, there were many TENIG employees that were none too happy (and who could blame them!) with how the last contract was negotiated which included giving back vacation time and/or salary for some of the members. Reminder — the TENIG and teachers contracts expire next Friday, June 30, 2017.

  21. Mary Minicozzi was President of TENIG (TE Non Instructional Group) and agreed to the multi million dollar pay cut on behalf of the Union.

    She was then given the position of Art McDonnell’s secretary with pay increase.

    The TE way. If they can’t beat you, they buy you.

    How many more are they going to have to buy at tax payer expense? This can’t go on.

  22. I can’t comment in this case in particular as I am not involved and I have as much knowledge as anyone reading this.

    However, I can say- **no worries about your taxpayer expense for a suspended teacher. Suspended is without pay, so you needn’t worry about **your tax dollars**

    1. Me,
      Did all 14 teachers in the lawsuit get suspended without pay? Did Administrators get suspended without pay? I know parents who are concerned about their kids having them as teachers when school starts soon.

  23. What if the school is found guilty of these charges? In some cases insurance companies won’t pay when the accused is at fault.

  24. Fact-finding re the teachers’ contract with the district is underway. Trying to get a sense of how this went in the past I read that the district rejected the fact-finder’s report in 2012. I attach a link to that report which found in most cases that the teachers were being reasonable and the district was not. What do you think?

    1. What do I think?

      I think that teachers are lucky.

      They get up to 16 weeks off per year, they make more money than same level employees working in corporations, they get pensions no one gets and they get gold standard health care no one gets.

      Shame on them for not appreciating what they have.

      That’s what I think.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Community Matters © 2024 Frontier Theme