We all understand that it’s the first week of school and that there are bound to be glitches. But some of the stories I am hearing from parents about the bus situation in T/E are unacceptable and scary!
Part of the problem with transportation issues may have to do with the changes in school start times. Back in April the school board approved the change in start times as a result of adolescent sleep needs. The changes are as follows:
High School: 7:50 AM – 2:50 PM (previously 7:20 AM – 2:20 PM)
Middle Schools: 8:27 AM – 3:10 PM (previously 7:50 AM – 2:33 PM) Elementary Schools: 9:10 AM – 3:45 PM (previously 8:45 AM – 3:20 PM)
For some working parents, the later start times created schedule issues but they had four months to make necessary adjustments. The transportation department of the District also had four months’ notice to adequately adjust the bus schedules and routes as needed. Not sure exactly what happened during the summer months but there seems a huge disconnect between the Krapf Bus Company and its drivers, the District’s administration and transportation department and the parents and their children.
I want to be clear that no parent who contacted me was expecting the system to work perfectly the first week but they sure deserved better than what some received!
Unsettling information about the District’s bus transportation includes late buses, repeated changes in schedules (one mother reported three schedule changes occurred last week), poor or non-existent communication from the transportation department and/or administration, unanswered phone calls and emails. Where is the accountability to the District’s parents?
As an example, here’s one disturbing story – bus #32 in the Glenhardie area was scheduled to pick children up at Valley Forge Elementary School at 3:45 PM. For those that don’t know, VFES is located on Walker Road, extremely close to the homes of the students. The VFES students on bus #32 did not arrive home until 6 PM, after spending hours on the bus!
One of the parents of children on bus #32 reported that the driver was lost in the neighborhood and that the older children on the bus were attempting to direct the driver – with the younger children upset and crying. It was reported that the driver actually became stressed herself and told the children that she was lost and didn’t know where she was going. Eventually the bus driver made her way back to Valley Forge Middle School with the children – yep, took the kids to the middle school! The children sat on the bus without air conditioning while they waited for a Kraft Bus Company ‘trainer’ to arrive and transport the children home. Isn’t there a dry run of bus routes before school starts – this should not be an “on the job training” position!
With safety a high priority in schools (remember we have all our schools fenced in!) one can only imagine how distraught the parents and children became as the hours dragged on. But the worse part – the District apparently invested in a new software system, TE All-Call, which was to notify the parents of bus delays. The parents received NO notification from All-Call and NO notification from the District. Parents had no idea where their children were for hours! The problems with #32 route continue with the driver picking up students at incorrect stops, late arrivals, etc. Parents described feelings of disappointment towards the lack of communication regarding when their children would be home – there has been no follow-up apology or explanation from the District.
I want to be clear, the problems with bus #32 and its driver is not an isolated transportation situation in the school district this week. I had another parent mention that none of the blinking bus caution signs were turned on in the District. This becomes important when children who walk to schools are crossing busy roads and drivers need notification that schools are open. It was also reported that the Krapf driver of bus #29 at New Eagle Elementary School had similar problems as bus #32 driver with getting the children home late due to confusion with the bus route.
At Monday’s school board meeting, a parent from Paoli commented that their bus stop location had changed and now requires the children to stand in a busy road to wait for the bus. She reported having contacted the District’s transportation department but there was no response.
Again – we all get that this is the first week of school but some of these reports were avoidable! Why do Krapf bus drivers not know their routes? Why isn’t the TE All-Call system notifying the parents of bus delays? Why are the blinking school lights not turned on? And why isn’t the school district responding and/or communicating to the parents?
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Didn’t the District hire a head of transportation at a very high salary a year ago? I saw buses in the streets on Saturday morning which I thought was strange. Why not do a dry run during the week when conditions will be the same as a regular school day?
It would appear that the driver of bus #32 had done NO dry run — having elementary school kids give directions? What I don’t understand is why wouldn’t the driver call Karen Henry, head of transportation when she got lost? Also, when a parent followed up on Tuesday with Ms. Henry about the kids being “missing” for 2+ hours, she had no idea it had happened! Like I said, there needs to be some accountability in this situation. I do believe that she is relatively recent hire in the District.
Arthur J. McDonnell
Business Manager/School Board Secretary, (610) 240-1801
Business office, finances, facilities, student activity fees, transportation, operations, network operations, open records requests, information technology
David Francella, Controller/Board Treasurer/District Tax Collector, (610) 240-1933
Finances, tax collections
Karen Henry, Transportation Manager, (610) 240-1684
Busing, student transportation
According to the District Website under Staff Directory and Administration, Karen Henry reports to Art McDonnell. Her only job responsibilities are transportation and busing. If Karen doesn’t communicate with drivers or the bus company, what does she do?
Hmm … wonder who is in charge of the website?? David Francella resigned 4 or 5 months ago! Not sure what exactly is going on with the transportation manager – but the administration is the oversight. There is an expectation for information to be communicated to parents so why is there a breakdown in the notification system (whether the administration or the All-Call software system). Leaving kids on buses for hours without the parents knowing where there are is unacceptable.
I had been to quite a few board meetings last year where a group of parents from New Eagle where desperate to get their young children’s bus stop moved from off of Old Eagle School Road to the less busy cross street. I was actually disgusted at the rude and callous response by the business manager to them.
As far as this year, I am very disappointed that we received no updates from transportation about delays that first day. My middle school child came home an hour latter school dismissal ( a half hour later than what the schedule said). I was nervous, to be frank. I had heard first responders in the distance, and thought the worst. Every time I tried to call transportation, it just rang. No one picked up. I couldn’t leave a message. There are kids on these buses with medical issues, and a bus full of young kids who most likely do not have phones, and she turns of the bus, so they can’t track it? Unacceptable.
I don’t expect perfection the first day, but this is unacceptable. Our transportation department has had its issues, and every year, people forget by the September board meeting.
Our kids’ safety should be worth more.
Thank you for this comment — you are the fourth parent to tell me that they called the transportation office and the phone just rang and rang. No one picked up and there was no voicemail. This is crazy! Which also makes me wonder is what exactly happens if there is an emergency with a school bus — does he/she bus driver have a special number to call or do they get the same no response at the transportation office? The safety of our kids is not just for INSIDE the school, it’s also on the bus ride to and from!
Thank-you for your comment.
What do you mean by:
“”””There are kids on these buses with medical issues, and a bus full of young kids who most likely do not have phones, ……….and she turns of the bus, so they can’t track it……….Unacceptable.”””””
And she turns of the bus, so they can’t track it.
Who is she? What is she turning?
The “she” is the bus driver. I know of one situation with the Glenhardie bus #32 – the bus that delivered the children at 6 PM – where a child on a strict schedule that needed medication was lost on a bus for hours! Fortunately the child was OK. The younger children from the elementary schools do not have cell phones so there was no way for them to communicate with their parents. One young child was extremely upset and crying when the bus driver was lost, and saying that she would never see her Mom and Dad again. I’m not trying to over dramatize this situation — but it’s darn serious. Another interesting twist is that a concerned parent wanted to go find her child’s bus but couldn’t because I was told for “safety reasons” the District doesn’t release the route details. I guess in the case of bus #32 driver it wold not have mattered if the parent had the route details — the driver was LOST so not following the assigned route!
The Business Manager, Art McDonnell, is typically rude and callous. Not to mention that he has severe truth issues.
Well, if it’s true she turned off the tracker, that’s upsetting. Not saying it isn’t true, but can’t imagine the District confirming or denying it which is unacceptable but that’s the way it is right now.
There are always glitches the first week of school, I’m sure in many areas. This sounds like a doozy though.
My child is 18. When she was 5 and going off to Kindergarten for the first time, she got off at the wrong bus stop coming home. I was at the right stop and waited til the last kid climbed off and mine was no where to be seen. I make it my business to know the bus drivers. I knew the guy and I asked him where my daughter was, he got nervous,and slammed the door. A kid on the bus screamed that she got off at the exit before. I started running up the street to see a kind parent of a student in her class holding her hand walking her down the street. She was fine. My point is, introduce yourself and your kid to the bus driver. Let them know you know them. Look them in the eye everytime you see them. If they’re going too fast, tell them. Parents at my stop refused to let their let kids Board one day because the driver was driving erratically.
The driver was all excuses and apologies the next day. He said he canvassed the neighborhood after he realized she got off at the wrong stop. I believe him. I didn’t call the District. Not trying to compare this incident with what’s happening this week. Someone should have answered the phone at the District when scared parents called and the bus driver should have been trained better and definitely should not have turned off her tracker.
Know your bus drivers. Know other parents whose kids are on your bus, at your stop and the stop before and after your stop.
My child was on Bus 32 but only in the mornings. The morning experience has been similarly aggregious. I called transportation and was told my feedback would be forwarded to the contractor. They could not provide a single remediation step. I told them I do not feel my child is safe. I do not use the bus anymore. I cannot believe this experience.
Thank you for this report on what should never happen to our children on school buses. My guess is that this is a toned-down version of what really happened. This must be investigated.
I remember reading earlier this year that the changing of the school schedule would cost the district over $600,000. What is going on???
If this level of customer service were to happen in the private sector, people would be fired.
Yes, the school board approved the delayed start time and the $600K cost back in April — so plenty of time to prepare and yet here we are. I just cannot imagine NOT answering the phone in the transportation department! Really these parents deserve a lot better than they have received!
They promise little, do less, raise taxes more and blame someone else.
I don’t know how any of this would address having a bus go missing for 2 hours and the transportation office not answering their phones. I know my neighbors. I get to know my kid’s bus driver every year. There is a specific policy in place in T/E that no Kindergarten student is allowed off of the bus without an adult.
This is not the issue at play here. At my child’s stop, I have had two separate buses trying to pick up the kids, and when I call transportation, I am spoken rudely to. It’s an issue on their end, not me not knowing my neighbors.
Special needs students aren’t being picked up in a timely fashion, nor are they being transported safely. It’s an issue that this district needs to address.
If our kids don’t have us speaking up for them, who will?
Agree! Has there been any communication from the administration and/or transportation department to the parents? As in apology/explanation, etc. etc.
Yes, you’re right and I didn’t mean to imply that meeting your neighbors and knowing the bus driver would solve problems.
I just know how it works from years of experience. They’re not going to take responsibility no matter what. The woman you talked to said, “I’ll tell the contracting company”. Right? Translation: It’s not my fault, it’s theirs and if this happens again it still won’t be my responsibility.
Meeting the bus driver and your neighbors may help you in case something happens again. And I have found that if the driver knows you and knows you’re on it, they pay more attention. In my experience, that’s the best you’re going to get.
I don’t think you’ll get help from the District. The bus company is contracted and so doesn’t work directly for the District so the District has little to no control over the drivers. I too am not sure why we employ a Transportation person who doesn’t even answer the phone when something like this occurs.
It’s only going to get better when the kindergartners and private school kids are added to the mix on Tuesday. This has been an epic fail on so many levels: logistics, communication, etc. This is just our Middle School bus pick up experience:
Monday: about 30 minutes late
Tuesday: Bus drove right past us and other kids on street. I had to drop her off at school.
Wednesday: Relatively on time
Thursday: Bus drove right by us. Another bus following immediately so I flagged them down and asked to have my student put on the bus since both were going to Middle School.
Kicker: same bus is used 30 mins later for my elementary child. Same driver. Same spot but bus in different direction. Today just said she didn’t see us. But had you slowed down in anticipation of known stop you would have clearly seen us.
Drop off is worse. Automatic phone call one of the three days where bus was over 25 minutes late dropping off elementary kids. Now the driver tells us this is the new drop off time….20-25 minutes later than advertised and a FULL HOUR after school ends. I live literally 3 minutes down the street.
THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY. Other schools have programs where you can track the bus in real time. Hmm, maybe we could use some of that 30 mil bond sitting around to pay for that, since we are paying interest while it gathers dust? Just a thought.
And no, other than the one auto call, no apologies, explanation, nothing.
This is beyond ridiculous! Now they are changing the drop off times, what about the kids with after school activities? An hour to get home from school and you are 3 min. from school! OK, enough — Art McDonnell, Dr. Gusick and every School Board director needs to get engaged. For a school district that is touting itself as #1, why is this going on with the buses? Thank you for responding to my question re the District’s outreach to the parents — let’s say it again and louder, NO APOLOGIES and NO EXPLANATION from the the District. Seriously, enough! Krapf Bus Company is contracted by the school district! I get that the District may not control the drivers of the buses but surely these people are accountable to the District! Our taxpayer dollars pay for the bus service, correct?
THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY. Other schools have programs where you can track the bus in real time. Hmm, maybe we could use some of that 30 mil bond sitting around to pay for that, since we are paying interest while it gathers dust? Just a thought.
Other schools don’t pay their business manager $209,000, and all the other Administrators around him close to that. That’s where our money goes.
No argument there, TE Parent!
This article was so concerning to me. I cannot imagine the anxiety and stress of those parents wondering where there children were for hours without answers from those responsible for their safety. I’m so weary of the dismissive, condescending, belittling attitude of Art McDonnell and his staff towards taxpayers in this community. It continues to be just infuriating to me that so many of the big, important, mishandled issues in this District trace right back to him and departments he oversees. I’ve asked this question before with respect to the financial messes he created, but is there ANY recourse at all that we as taxpayers have when we are dissatisfied and frankly disgusted with the Business Manager’s performance? Does anyone know? Petitioning Gusick? There must be something that can be done…must be someone willing to listen.
Th# business manager Art McDonnell reports to Dr. Gusick and the School Board is the District’s oversight. As of July 1, the school board approved a new 5-year contract with Art McDonnell at $206,000/yr plus annual raises/bonus. Residents continue to complain about McDonnell, including the $1.3 million accounting error, but apparently our collective views don’t matter.
I live in Easttown too. I feel like not many taxpayers from Easttown post or know a whole lot about what goes on. If you want to get together for coffee or a walk, let Pattye know and I’ll contact you. Thanks. Elections are coming up. Maybe we can influence them.
Pattye and all,
Agree with everything you say but not much anyone can do here short of hiring our own drivers and buying our own fleet of buses. This is what happens with outsourcing. The control is no longer with you. It’s with the contracting company. Here’s what I predict: Kraph will say they’re on it, that they’re “retraining the drivers and that trainers will ride with them until they learn the routes. This may a a couple weeks. The District will say nothing substantive about it which will make it linger with some parents.
It’s just the same when the Aides and Paras got outsourced. The argument against it was that all power and control over the emoloyees will be lost, and it was. People we don’t know and who don’t know us or our children coming and going and with the building Administrators having no day over it.
I thought the Board was going to comment on the $1M accounting error at the Board meeting on Monday. What happened?
My understanding is that there was a lot of discussion but not much moved forward. Suggest that you watch the school board meeting for details.
The job market is tight and bus companies are having problems hiring drivers. I’ve seen prominent advertisements for the private bus companies Althouse and Krapf. Unionville which has transportation in-house had a bus sitting in front of the high school all summer with a giant banner looking to hire drivers. The long bus runs and late drop-offs may be due to having to combine three routes into two due to a shortage of drivers. The route that the lost bus driver trained for may have been changed at the last minute. This is not an excuse, however, for a lack of communications.
You are probably correct that there are staffing shortages and last minute route changes. But the lack of communication from the District to the parents is not acceptable. I cannot imagine misplacing a bus full of children for 2+ hours and not notifying the parents – or the District’s transportation office not answering the phone. Aside from the possible internal Krapf Bus Company employee problems, the District has a responsibility to the parents.
Keith has a good point about the shortage of drivers in today’s market.
However, Karen reports to Art so she is on the Administrative side which means she works year round. Her only job responsibilities are transportation and busing. I’m assuming the only vendor she deals with is Kraph, so what did she do all summer? Shouldn’t Kraph be obligated to tell her about driver shortage issues and last minute route changes that confuse unsuspecting drivers? Shouldn’t she be in meetings and strategy sessions with Kraph to come up with back up plans in the face of problems?
Telling parents she didn’t know anything about it when they called to get answers is scary and completely unacceptable. Makes you wonder what she does know about the bus operations in the District, if anything.
Have a very basic question based on a comment from a MS bus driver who blamed the lateness in the afternoon on the HS dropoffs. Are they trying to use the same buses for all three — HS, MS & ES? I believe in the past, MS buses were separate. Twenty minutes difference in school day end is not logistically possible to do HS and MS and be anywhere near to on time. Then you have a domino impact on ES. Can someone confirm this?
Yes, the district is using the same buses for all three runs (HS, MS and ES). The start and dismissal times were adjusted accordingly to allow enough time for each bus to complete its run before doing the next run. Yes, if the bus driver got delayed in the HS run then it would absolutely cause a domino effect on MS and ES. Are the bus drivers not reporting their delays to Krapf or Karen Henry? If the buses’ GPSes are turned out, there should be a way for the new transportation software to alert Karen when a bus is running more than 10 minutes behind, which should then trigger an All-Call to the affected families.
The district claimed that this new software would help buses run more efficiently but if personnel doesn’t change, the software can only do so much! I just got another TE all-call today saying that “due to numerous opt-ins” at the last minute, bus routes had to be adjusted AGAIN. We’re nearing the end of week 2 of school. Opt-in forms were collected at the end of May or beginning of June — couldn’t Transportation have worked the OTHER way around — assume that EVERYONE is going to use the buses, and then remove kids if their parents turn in a form saying that they opt-OUT? (That seems more logical to me…)
I fear that this fiasco is going to outrage parents even more about the adjustment of school start times. I am a big proponent of later start times and strongly believe that HS and ES should be flip-flopped, but only with adequate planning and only when Transportation has its act together… Which may be NEVER at this rate.
Oh goodness — I thought by this point, that the transportation department would have sorted out the school bus situation. This information is very disheartening. The business manager Art McDonnell is the administrator in charge of the transportation department — so why is this still going on? And I agree, that this could have been much better organized. They have known for months that the time was going to change and there should have been adequate opportunity to sort out the schedules – and yes, assume ALL students are taking the bus and work from that direction that parents had to OPT OUT, not OPT IN for using the District’s buses.
They wil never ever ever ever admit that even if true, that 200 opted in, in the last 2 weeks (which I doubt) accommodations for a scenario like this should have been considered and accounted for months ago. They will always blame someone or something else and it’s usually the victims, the very people they’re supposed to work for.
Nothing much at all gets done in the summer. I have talked to those who say everything shuts down and they come back and scramble the first week of school with drastic changes and directives that do nothing but cause chaos and make matters worse. When I thought back on this, my memory confirmed to me that that is true.
Yes! Progress — just received the T/E News and it has the following statement:
Message from the Transportation Department
As the first week of school comes to a close, the Transportation Department would like to thank parents for their patience and understanding as we work to optimize bus runs. We regret any confusion or concern parents may have experienced this week as we worked with two bus companies and drivers to adjust their times. Also, within the past two weeks, parents have opted several hundred students into our system, which has caused the need for further modifications.
At this time, most buses are running very close to the scheduled times. Similar to prior years, we will be making adjustments to the pick-up times of several buses in the coming days. We have also taken steps to improve our ability to send all-call messages when buses are significantly late.
Looking to next week, we will monitor the impact of adding kindergartners to the routes.
Thank you once again for your understanding as our work to optimize the bus routes continues.
Many buses are first leaving the middle school 20-30 minutes after dismissal every day. Notifications are not going out consistently.
This must be increasingly frustrating for parents! The new delayed opening times was approved by the school board months ago, so I do not understand why the process still remains so unsettled for parents/students. Today marks the end of the second week – shouldn’t the bus situation be resolved by this point?
Speaking on issues of bus time changes and the chaos that can ensue without proper planning, I attended the Education Committee meeting last night at 7:00 pm at the TEAO (Tredyffrin Easttown Administrstive Offices) on West Valley Road next to the US mail drop off depot.
Approval of them 2020-2021 School Calender was on the agenda. I thought this would take about 2 minutes to discuss and approve. We were here for probably an hour and the issue was pushed to next month for more discussion.
Demographics in the District are changing rapidly. Our District has become extremely diverse bringing with the change many different cultures with many different times and dates on the Calender for holiday worship time and celebration. It’s become very, very difficult to accommodate every celebration day for every District family. Eg. A parent stated s day in the year that is a huge day for many of our Districts’ families. It’s also the scheduled day for school testing which if delayed by making the day a Holiday would throw a monkey wrench in that whole process.
I had no strong feelings on this until a Parent who was fighting for this weird (to me)Holiday designated time stood up and stated, “Imagine that school is in session on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, that is what this is like for us.”
The 2020-2021 School Calender discussion among Board Members and parents, is worth noting. It was extremely interesting to hear comments and views from all “sides.”
As I have stated in the past, I like Kyle Boyer a lot. He’s smart, confident and not afraid to voice his opinion and address Administration or other Board Members. Kyle resigned his position as a teacher at Valley Forge Middle School in order to serve on the school Board. (A real head scratcher). I have often stated that IMO, teachers and ex teachers should not be allowed to run for or serve on the school Board. When discussing the School Calender issue for a very long time, Kyles opinion was almost if not all the time centered around how the Calender would affect the teachers and their comfort. I don’t think he knew it. Not his fault. He is so inherently bias toward teachers (because he is a teacher) that the consideration of how the changes would affect students and tax payers was completely lost to him. The comfort and consideration for the teachers and Administrstors in this District has thrown a shadow over what this is supposed to be about…..students and taxpayers. Two more ex district employees are running for the school Board. If they win, we will have 3 ex teachers/Administrators on the Board, lobbying for more for themselves while students and taxpayers get pushed further to the back of the line.
I’m sure they’re all good people but they are all inherently bias, and they don’t even know it.
I spoke with Kyle before he was elected to the board while he was campaigning. It was clear he had one agenda only, teachers benefits and welfare, with no perspective at all about any of the the other concerns or issues percolating in the District. Because of this I did not vote for him and was disappointed to see he had gotten on the board. We need representatives that are balanced. Yes the teachers need support, but not to the detriment or loss of all other needs.
Thank-you for your comment.
I would like to comment on the part where you say, “yes, teachers need support”
Teachers have tremendous support. That’s the problem. The CHS union leaders negotiate outlandish salary increases for them every 1 1/2 to 3 years. Half of them make well over $93,000 per
year. They get 10 weeks off in the summer + all holiday time during the school year. It seems like they get as many sick days as they want/need and when you call in to check on this after the teacher has been out 3 days a week for 6 weeks, the Administration has no idea what you’re talking about.
They get to close their class room doors and have complete 100% control over children. Educated, sophisticated adults go to work every day with a boss breathing down their neck every minute. Children would rather dig a hole and jump in it than defend themselves against a teacher in front of all their peers. In the cases students complain and parents call, the teacher is vigorously defended by the Administration.
We now have a teacher on the Board who let us know in the last Policy Committee meeting that if teachers have to work the entire months of March and April “they’re not going to like that,” because those are long months. So on top of outlandish pay, pay raises, gold standard health care, Pensions, freedom to treat your child any way they want to, vacation time no one in the private sector gets, Kyle Boyer is lobbying for the School Calender to be set around them too.
Teachers have PLENTY of support. Their contracts make sure of that. They have too much support and not enough oversite and Accountability.
Tax payers and students need support. WE need contracts that ensure we get what our hard earned tax dollars are supposed to go for.
How can the bus problem be solved when the roads around Conestoga ,TEMS and Timothy have been JAMMED every day? In 31 yrs I have NEVER seen so many cars dropping off,parking in the street or even doing u turns when the roads are backed up. It has to impact the buses starting at the high school. These roads and traffic lights can only handle so much. TRAFFIC OVERLOAD.
Speaking about Kyle Boyer and the Policy Committee Meeting on Tuesday night at the Policy Committee Meeting at 7:00, at the TEAO ( Tredyffrin Easttown Administrative Offices) on West Valley Road next the the SE (South Eastern) US mail drop off depot:
Months ago, Hold’n Out for Accountability said that a group of Valley Forge Middle School moms banded together and campaigned to get Kyle Boyer elected because they thought this would help them get services they wanted. Hold’n Out said they gathered a signed petition lobbying for bonuses for Administrators in order to curry favor and hopefully get the services they want for their children.
I don’t know if this is true or not but let’s say it is true for a minute.
I’d like for those Valley Forge Moms who campaigned for Kyle and those who for a fact voted for him to ask yourselves what you have gotten in return for your votes.
I was at the Policy meeting. The only Board Members I saw who were fighting for you to get your Literacy Committee were Kate Murphy and Ed Sweeney who seconded Kate’s motion. Kate has been fighting for you for 18 months for your Literacy Committee. It is beyond clear by the way the Supt. and Administration react to the idea of legitimizing your proposal of a Literacy Committee that they don’t
Valley Forge Moms,
If it’s true that you campaigned to get Kyle Boyer elected, when you go to the voting booth in November, and your choice for a candidate is between another teacher and Ed Sweeney, I would kindly ask you to think about who in fact is fighting for you, the taxpayer and parent; Kate Murphy and Ed Sweeney? Or Kyle Boyer and the Administration?
Kate Murphy has been fighting hard for you for 18 months. So has Ed Sweeney. The creation of a Literacy Committee costs nothing. Why doesn’t Kyle Boyer fight as hard for this as Kate Murphy and Ed Sweeney? Why doesn’t the Administration champion this great idea?
Why do they fight very very hard to add $2M to the budget every contract negotiation period, for raises for themselves, which are approved within months, yet act ambivalent about your idea of creating a Literacy Committee that would benefit you and your kids and would cost nothing? It’s been 18 months.
Following up on Policy and the request from District parents for a Literacy Committee, their hopes were dashed again tonight when 5 Board Members voted against them and for the 50+ teachers who showed up to make sure it didn’t happen. It intimidating, but the parents handled themselves with the utmost in dignity and grace.
Kyle Boyer voted no. He addressed the parents directly stating that he knew that he was voting against the very parents in the room who got him elected. Stunning. The Administration can always count on Kyle for his support for anything they want.
Todd, Roberta, Tina, Scott and Mary also voted no. Scott talked about how they have to support teachers and parents. How do you support parents, Scott? When does the Board ever vote in favor of students/taxpayers?
Retired Personnel Director Sue Tiede was there sitting with the teachers. She left the meeting with the 50 teachers right after the Board votied against parents. If she wins in November, we’ll have 2-3 ex District employees on the Board voting against parents and students and for themselves.
If this happens, get ready for another huge tax increase to pay for the huge salary increases for teachers on top of their outlandish salaries. Their contracts expire in 2020.
I would also note and add to my comment above that there was a Public Information Committee Meeting at 6:00pm, right before the scheduled 7:00pm Policy Committee Meeting. I found it very odd that upon entering the room at 5:45, I noticed there were 50 chairs set up in the gallery section. There are never that many chairs set up before a meeting, any meeting, so the Administration knew that 50+ teachers were coming to the meeting to blind side these hard working parents and intimidate them and Board Members into voting against this initiative.
Also, Board Members, explaining why they voted no ( keep in mind this has been ongoing for TWO YEARS) sited as their reason something a man in the 50+ teacher audience said. He said he had 20 to 30 years experience with this. He said if a Literacy Committee is created, it will “just die” anyway. He’s seen it happen many times. What? Okay, if it will “just die anyway” why not create it anyway. If this is such a threat to teachers and Administrators, and if it will “just die anyway” why not give the parents what they want? This man did not state his name, where he was from or if he lived in the District. I was standing right next to an Administrator, and I asked him if the man was a teacher, he looked straight ahead and said no, I then asked the Administrator if the man was an employee of the District and he continued to look straight ahead saying no. Who was this man who came to one meeting after 2 years of discussing this and persuaded the Board to vote no on the Lireracy Committee with one comment about the Literacy Committee dying if it is created after tax paying parents have been talking about this, describing their real life experiences for 2 years in Committee meetings and Community gatherings?
Reply to Taxpayer/Easttowner about the man who spoke out against the Literacy committee:
The man did state his name–David Goodman. He also said he raised his kids in the district, but it was interesting he left out the fact that his wife is a learning support teacher in the district.
And here I am at 3:45 p.m., beginning of week 3, waiting for my middle schooler to get off the bus that should have arrived by 3:20. And this is the same bus which my elementary schooler is supposed to come home on. No wonder she gets home at 4:48 p.m. Ridiculous!
Ridiculous! Please let me know what time the bus finally arrived — by coincidence, at the District’s Finance Committee meeting tonight on the agenda item #4: “Back to School Transportation Report – Karen Henry, Transportation Supervisor”. The meeting is at 7 PM and I plan to attend and seek answers from Ms. Henry. This has to be one of most unsuccessful handling of the District’s transportation process in recent years! Crazy that at the start of week 3 and the scheduling issues remains! The meeting is at the TEAO office located at 940 West Valley Road, Wayne, PA Here’s a link to the agenda: https://www.tesd.net/cms/lib/PA01001259/Centricity/Domain/56/09092019%20DRAFT%20Finance%20Committee%20Agenda%20revised.pdf
This is a perfect storm combined with Murphy’s Law. The district changed routing software, changed bell times, hired a new contractor to do special needs busing and instituted a ridiculous, poorly thought out “opt-in” ridership plan. Combine this with a serious driver shortage (not just TESD but nation-wide) and everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. The driver issue is one that all school districts and contractors are coping with. All of the other factors though, are self-inflicted. Too much change all at once almost always leads to chaos. Don’t blame the employees of the district transportation office….they take their direction from Art McDonnell.
How did it go?
Here’s my comments from last night:
The transportation situation was discussed for nearly 2 hours during the Finance Committee meeting. All school board members spoke about about the bus problems, acknowledging that they had heard from residents. Art McDonnell and Karen Henry, the District’s transportation supervisor responded w/little ownership of problems and minimal commitment to fix it.
The longer McDonnell and Henry dismissed the transportation issues or deflected responsibility for the problems, the angrier I became. This was a frigin’ serious issue and these people were just not getting it. I then spoke — probably with more passion (anger) than I should have and actually apologized at one point that I did not mean to be yelling at Todd (Finance Chair). But residents were told not to direct our remarks at the staff but directly at the school board. I told them that the parents were far more patient about this situation than I would have been — if I still had a little person and he/she was missing for 30 min. (let alone 2 hours!) on a bus and no one was answering the phone, I would have CALLED 911! I would not have waited 2+ hours! And about the fact that the phone just rang and rang with no answer from the transportation office — the response was that they didn’t have enough people to answer the phone???? Talked about maybe next year having extra people to answer the phone?? The notification system was NONEXISTENT — parents did not KNOW where their children were! I talked about the serious safety issues, mentioning all the discussion/money spent over fencing the schools and here we can’t have safety enforced from the transportation department.
I was completely unimpressed by the responses from McDonnell and Henry — no compassion, no empathy, no responsibility whatsoever. The fact that some of these bus drivers were clueless on the routes received little response — I said that in my world bus #32 driver would not have driven a bus in T/E after what she did! Telling the busload of elementary children that she was “lost” and have a couple of “big boys” (probably 4th graders trying to direct!). According to Ms. Henry, they know where the buses are at all times, so WHY didn’t someone DO SOMETHING when they realized that the driver was aimlessly driving around for over 2 hours!! Just no response.
Karen Henry looks old enough to be a grandmother — based on her passive and dismissive attitude, I have to believe that she has no experience as mother/grandmother because you couldn’t help but be upset when you heard a number of the parents speaking about their personal experiences. I heard from several people who contacted Henry and there was zero follow-up.
After I spoke a number of parents spoke with great passion and personal experience — let’s be clear NO ONE was praising the transportation department on their handling! Complaints that buses are still 30-45 min. late at the end of the day (and its the 3rd week of school!) were met with Art McDonnell’s response that they had worked on the morning schedule and would need another 3 or 4 days to work on the afternoon! To her credit, school board director Kate Murphy tried to get a commitment from McDonnell/Henry as to when this would be resolved but there was little specifics offered.
One situation that continues to be absolutely ridiculous is the bus stop that is located in Paoli — South Valley and Circular Drive. For a reason that neither McDonnell or Henry had an answer, the stop was moved after many years in a far safer place. Why was the bus stop changed?? A parent brought this to the Board’s attention at the last school board meeting so I figured it would have changed — Nope, these children are at great risk. One parent even provided a large graphic with the map on one side with number of accidents indicated and the other side of buses and the danger involved. Again, NO FIRM COMMITMENT to change the stop — McDonnell will talk to the safety supervisor! In my world, it should have been fixed yesterday!
I didn’t intend to make this a rant but I’m just so annoyed — every parent in the T/E School District who wishes to use the buses for their children, needs to have confidence that it works. I was asked by several people today if I was going to continue to follow the bus issues. Let’s see if the noise last night was enough to put fire under McDonnell and Henry and if they get the problems fixed by the end of this week. Parents, if the problems continue with the buses, please post here and I will follow-up.
Truly a perfect storm, and I agree that Art should have been gone a long time ago, but let’s not forget that we have someone making a lot of money for just this purpose. That person should go also.
Pattye I agree with all your comments.. you were livid last night because you care about chilrens safety… I sat through that meeting wondering how can Art and Karen not be affected by all the emotional stories from several special needs parents? Basically they just sat there with excuses. Thanks to all the other worried parents who took the time to tell the school board how they and there children are being impacted TE transportation . I attended the meeting because my grandchildren have had bus issues. PLEASE if you are having a transportation problem email Pattye or contact the school board..this has to be fixed NOW !!!
Art McDonnell negotiates bus contracts every year. Therefore the bus company does work for the district and can be fired for any breach .
Follow the bus.
There should video and audio on buses for safety.
Young children should have cell phones in case a driver has a heart attack or an adult should ride with kids.
Art makes $206,000 per year plus gold standard benefits and pension. Art and District employees receive raises every year regardless of job performance.
As we can see, the safety net of a salary not tied to job performance leads to complacency at best and bad behavior at worst with Art and employees knowing they’ll get highly paid no matter their job performance. Raises based purely on time spent with the District is a disincentive for employees to behave with character, dignity and integrity. They behave this way because they can. There is no accountability. When there is no accountability, there is no incentive to do the right thing.
At the Policy Meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 at 7:00pm at The TE Administrative Office, West Valley Road:
I note that the Supt. Of Schools and the Director of Accountability both made a point of mentioning how long they have worked for the District. The DOA has worked here since 1996, (23 years) the Supt. of Schools since 1993. (26 years). I have attended many meetings over the years, where they also announced their time served status. They do this in situations where stake holders are trying to holding them accountable and I think what they’re saying is, I’ve been here a really long time. Longer than any Board Member and most parents by far and I’m not going anywhere, and that entitles me to do anything I want to do. My salary is high because I deserve it because I’ve been here a really long time and the system is designed to protect me no matter what I do so stop bothering me because it won’t do you any good.
I have friends who graduated from CHS 40 and 50 years ago. The School District was considered one of the best back then and District employees weren’t raking in the equivalent of $200,000 + per year, bullying and intimidating parents and students, constantly clamoring for more (because they deserved it) and nor did they treat tax payers like second class citizens and students like after thoughts in their constant quest working in their own best interests.
Well, I’ve lived here since 1987. I’ve paid taxes here since that time and starting in 2008, I’ve watched as my tax dollars go to pay for their big salaries and raises that they justify by saying they’ve worked here a long time. I also note that’s when their bullying and intimidation of students and tax payers started and continues to get worse. I have a constitutional right and a civic obligation to hold them accountable for their really bad behavior and for how my tax dollars are spent.
This is what happens when pay is determined by longevity and their salaries rise to amounts more than what people who are paying for them make. It continues to become less and less about students and tax payers and more and more about the comfort and consideration of the teachers and Administrators.
Remember that when you go to the voting booth in November. We already have a teacher on the Board who sees every issue through the eyes of the teachers and how decisions made best benefit him and his co workers. There are two ex District Employees running for the Board.
Ask yourselves, do we want more of this?
Vote for students and tax payers. Vote for Ed Sweeney, Valley Forge and Kate Murphy, Easttown.
I was at the meeting. I was the mom that spoke in the front. I recorded the entire meeting. I am happy to post the video’s if it’s ok with you. Here is my synopsis.
At TE School Board finance meeting, busing update by Karen Henry,
We found out drivers were not trained on the routes just encourage to drive them ahead of time, a first-grader was let out on the wrong street and had to explain to the driver he lived on a different street, buses are still arriving late to school in the am and are an average of 26 minutes late in the afternoon.2 buses have broken safety arm/ stop sign and it was reported by parents not the bus company.
Drivers “ don’t pick up phones because they may be listening to the radio” some drivers were so lost their 4 th grade passengers came up front to help them find the route.
Some children arrived home at 6 pm, several small children were crying , A nonverbal special needs child arrived home 2 hours late and missed a medication dose. Parents had to drive this same student in the am because the bus was not equipped with a proper seat belt for him. There is no real system to find a lost bus. GPS does not hook up to our All-Call system to notify parents. The new notification system for late buses is a driver calling in. Drivers didn’t call in until they were over 20 mins late. Transportation department does not have enough people to answer the phones when there are issues nor any plan to handle this in the future. Parents called repeatedly but no one could answer the phone.
These are the same people ( The Finance Committee/Transportation) that expect us to trust them in case of emergency. Pleased note many of the school board members are as concerned as we are. Transportation does not want to share our children’s bus routes with us because it’s a security concern.
I do not trust anyone that did not properly train bus drivers, do a dry run or prepare their department. They had months and 600,000 to figure this out.
We deserve to know exactly where our children are at all times especially when they are in the hands of an inept system. If there is an emergency or weather issue we should be able to track our children’s bus route to find them. There are no consequences for drivers. Nor is there any clause/ penalty in the KRAPF or Kids On The Go contract for inept drivers.
We spent 600,000 to ensure the time change went smoothly. SERIOUSLY?
if you would like to watch for yourself I recorded the meeting in 13- 3-minute videos. I didn’t record all parents comments just the first one( last video) Parents need to let their voices be heard. We can do better.
Thank you for the comprehensive review of the meeting! The only thing that I would add is the bus stop situation at South Valley and Circular Drive in Paoli. For no apparent reason, the bus stop was moved this year — neither Art McDonnell or Karen Henry offered an explanation and I seriously cannot believe that the bus company made this decision. Actually it doesn’t matter “whom” is responsible, it needs to be moved back immediately as the new stop is extremely dangerous for children/parents, an extreme safety hazard for those waiting for the bus. Parents brought this situation up at the monthly school board meeting and then returned for the finance committee on this issue — and all Art can do is “kick the can”, saying we’ll have the safety officer look into it! Just MOVE the bus stop back where it was!
Pattye and Comcerned Mom,
Thank- you for attending the meeting and thank-you Concerned Mom for your comprehensive report. The Committee meetings should be video taped just like regular Board Meetings. This is where the meat of the issues are discussed. I don’t attend regular Board Meetings because everything is already decided by then. Votes are taken on decisions already made in Committees meetings. I appreciate all citizens who stand before the Board and cameras at Board Meetings because that’s our only opportunity to let stakeholders hear your expert opinions but your comments are lost on Board Members because by that time, their decision is made.
I had a conflicting meeting or I would have attended the meeting.
I am confused by the section in Concerned Mom’s synopsis that “There is no real system to find a lost bus. GPS does not hook up to our All-Call system to notify parents. The new notification system for late buses is a driver calling in.” I find this hard to believe, as I have called Transportation numerous times in the past when a bus has been late. The person on the phone usually tells me to hang on and they will check where the bus is, and tell me that the bus is on such-and-such street and should arrive at my stop in about X minutes. How can there not be a GPS on the bus?!
I also think bus drivers are severely under-appreciated and underpaid. Did you see the SAVVY article that just came out about the homeless bus driver? Drivers should be compensated more in order to attract higher-quality/qualified people, AND there needs to be more than one adult on the bus! I can hardly drive my two children and stay sane when they’re squabbling — imagine a bus of up to 60 children and just one adult! Driving a bus is not an easy job!
I am not happy with the situation and how there seem to be so many inefficiencies in our school system. I agree that parents’ and taxpayers’ voices need to be heard, but I am concerned about the tone of some of these comments. There is a productive way to make your voice heard, and quite frankly, some of these comments have a tone that sound abrasive to me. I agree with many of the points that have been brought up above, but from my experience, anytime the person on the receiving end perceives an abrasive tone of voice, it can easily sound like an attack and quickly cause people to go into automatic defensive mode. The transportation issue is certainly a very serious issue that T/E residents should be upset about – but let’s take a step back to regroup and think of a way to effectively communicate our concerns in a respectful but urgent tone.
I am sorry that you feel that the tone of some of the comments is abrasive but when it comes to the safety of children, I think if anything the parents were more patient than I would have been in similar circumstances. If my child was on a school bus for over 2 hours and no one knew where the bus and my child was, the situation would have escalated quickly to a 9-1-1 call. I am glad that when you have called the transportation office, someone answered the phone — I assure you that was not the experience for many parents. They called and the phone just rang and rang. The transportation office admitted that they could not handle the phone call volume so calls did not get answered.
It should be a mandatory requirement that every bus driver is required to do dry runs (multiple times if needed) on their routes prior to the start of school. But based on the response from the transportation department, there is no enforcement mechanism with the bus companies.
The people with the school bus stop issue on South Valley and Circular Dr. were at the September school board meeting and respectfully spoke of the severity of the safety issues — nothing changed — they come again to the finance meeting with maps and photos and still received no assurance that the bus stop will move back to where it was previously. In my opinion parents start out respectful but expect to be “heard” and then see changes implemented.
I have no idea how much bus drivers make – what I do know is that the bus companies should be accountable for the adequate preparation of their drivers and safety of our children. It should not be left to 4th graders to give driving directions to their bus driver. As for 2 adults on the bus, parents cannot control or mandate that happen.
This is the end of the third week of school and I am still receiving emails from parents that buses are arriving very late bringing the children home. We need accountability for the situation and an expectation that the problems will be corrected.
Frustrated MS Parent,
Thank-you for the clarification and thank-you for sharing your experience:
———I find this hard to believe, as I have called Transportation numerous times in the past when a bus has been late. The person on the phone usually tells me to hang on and they will check where the bus is, and tell me that the bus is on such-and-such street and should arrive at my stop in about X minutes. How can there not be a GPS on the bus?!———
I don’t think or take it that commenters are blaming the bus drivers. Bus drivers are employees who do what they are told. This is s management problem. The evidence shows that drivers were not properly trained. This is not their fault. And it’s unfortunate that they have to experience extreme stress and discomfort because they were thrown into a situation they weren’t properly trained for.
And to Keith’s point about a shortage of drivers:
I know for a fact it’s very difficult to find people who can pass background checks, and with marajana legalization and acceptance of use in our society, not to mention all other drug use, prescription or not, to find people who can pass drug tests.
I agree with everything you say about bus drivers. They deserve our respect and they deserve to be properly trained before the start of a new school year, especially with the complete overhaul of a 6,000 to 7,000 student school transportation system bringing with that confusion and chaos.
Dear Frustrated Parent,
I am sorry I didn’t respond earlier I just saw this today.
Please watch the videos of the meeting. you will see my portrayal is accurate. I am sorry you don’t like the tone. I would appreciate your opinion once you have watched the videos. I feel confident you will agree with my synopsis. My tone is one of a frustrated worried parent. I don’t take the safety of our children lightly. I am not blaming any of this on bus drivers. I believe it is poor planning and communication from our transportation department and Art McDonnell’s office.
It appears that there remains issues with some of the elementary school buses arriving very late — and it’s now October!
Thank you, I will add it. Here is the link for the video of the entire meeting. Were you the first one to speak?
yes, the first audience member to speak.
Their tendency to ignore issues until they go away doesn’t seem to be working this time.
They want the power and privilege, but not the accountability.
Well Art McDonald certainly changed the conversation! Instead of parents & community Talking about why our taxes were REALLY raised-McDonald covered up over a million dollars in accounting errors, lied about it for two years, and when the coverup was discovered, lied about the ability to fix the errors AND THEN the school board gives him a pay raise (on top of $200k+), bonus & contract extension! THAT is where our money is going while they “cost mitigate” in the Transportation department as much as possible, to the point of compromising safety. The 2019/2020 transportation “plan” was set up by Art McDonald to fail. Change all routes, wait for families to “opt in,” new software/companies—all smoke & mirrors! Art didn’t implement the school time change but certainly used the situation to his advantage-well done Art, you changed the conversation.
Devon Elementary Parent,
It’s true that their general response to being held accountable by parents -taxpayers for their bad actions is to create drama in the form of confusion, doubt, skepticism and resentment to deflect attention away from themselves and onto the victims of their bad actions (its your fault, 200 of you “opted in” in the last 2 weeks,) so we then spend time defending ourselves instead of working to hold them accountable for their bad actions. I have been the recipient of this treatment more times than I can count.
Its embarrassing that Art has free rein to do whatever he wants. This is nothing new. His actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time. Management and the Board are either helpless or uninterested in doing anything about it.
Even so, I either can’t believe what you’re saying is true or I don’t want to believe it. The idea of Intentionally putting children in harms way to deflect attention onto this in order to avoid responsibility for a financial error is too stunning for me to comprehend.
Also, it’s my observation and experience, that the Administrations answer to problems like this that arise because of poor planning and lack of attention until the first week of school is not only to blame the victims, but to hire more employees the next year at top of the market salaries.
We don’t need more employees at top of the market salaries adding additional burden to our already out of control budget. We just kindly ask that current employees simply execute the duties of your responsibilities. Keep an eye on the budget for new hires in transportation.
Too bad we don’t get to vote on hired positons like “Business manager”. Art McDonnell has it made! Who hired him and keeps him there???
TE Parents we are still having significant safety/busing issues. You can help by filling out this short anonymous survey. Results will be shared with our school board
We do get a vote if we make Art a political issue. We can put pressure on elected school board members that hired and continue to support Art. I would love to know how we find out which members voted for Art to be hired.
Art has been in the District many years and probably pre-dates any of the current school board members. That said, it was a unanimous vote by the current members to give him a new contract and raise, which stated July 1, 2019.
The man did state his name–David Goodman. He also said he raised his kids in the district, but it was interesting he left out the fact that his wife is a learning support teacher in the district.
Hello, “Reply to Taxpayer/Easttowner,”
Thank- you for the clarification.
So —David Gordon—- parachutes in for the first time in the 2 years parents have been fighting for a Litercy Committee, stands up and says “the literacy committee will die” if you create it, and Board Members identify strongly with his opinion and use this as a reason to vote no on the literacy committee.
Now we learn that David Gordon’s spouse is a learning support teacher in the District. At the very least, this conflict of interest should have been revealed to the Board (did they already know?) and to the public before he gave his opinion.
Mary Itin (Easttown Candidate who cried before voting against parents) said we should do a “deep dive” on the issue of Literacy through the “Curriculum Council.” No one knows what the Curiculuum Council is, who is on it what it does, when it meets or if it has ever met. This is NOT progress. This is a kicking of the can down a road with a dead end and everyone knows it.
Scott Dorsey also voted against parents. Scott, feels the Diversity Committee is a joke with no “teeth” because it has no power in which to present initiatives that are voted on to bring about change. He is right and I have been saying the same thing for years. It is a waste of tax payer dollars and everyone’s time. 3 or 4 Administrators spend hours of their time creating “feel good” videos that mean nothing and do nothing except turn audience member brains into mush. He used this as a reason to vote NO for a Literacy Committee. I don’t get it Scott. How is burying a Literacy Committee in a ”Curiculuum Council” no one knows anything about going to help establish a much needed dialogue and information exchange between parents and teachers/ Administration? A literacy committee and a real Diversity Committee is exactly what is needed.
Please, if you are an Easttown Resident, vote for Kate Murphy. If you are a Valley Forge Resident, Vote for Ed Sweeney.
Kate and Ed have demonstrated over and over and over that they support students and tax payers. And please, don’t take my word for it, look at their voting record. Go to meetings. Listen to what they say.
A vote for Ed and Kate, is a vote for yourselves, because Kate and Ed always vote for you and your children.
Go Ed! Go Kate!
I am parent who cannot get my child a nearer bus stop. The people who run the whole show especially Karen Henry are quite heartless. Is there anyone I can complain to? All the issues I have raised at Karen Henry and I cant go past her.
This transportation problem just continues, doesn’t it! I had someone tell me that her child is on the 5th bus driver since the start of the year! I know some people have suggested that children and parents need to know their bus driver, how is it possible, when they change every two weeks.
At this point, if you are getting no where with Karen Henry, the Transportation Director – I suggest you go up the chain of command. Henry reports to Art McDonnell — his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. McDonnell reports to Dr. Gusick, the Superintent – his email is email@example.com. I suggest that you copy the school board on your emails at firstname.lastname@example.org . Please let me know if you receive satisfaction. In addition, there is a regular school board meeting on Monday, Oct. 28, 7:30 PM if you are able to attend.
—————Reply to Taxpayer/Easttowner about the man who spoke out against the Literacy committee:
The man did state his name–David Goodman. He also said he raised his kids in the district, but it was interesting he left out the fact that his wife is a learning support teacher in the district.————-
Because of David Goodman, whose wife is a learning support teacher ( teachers are vehemently against a Literacy Committee) in this District, the Directors voted against a Literacy Committee and for the creation of a “Curriculum Council.” It met for the first time last week.
There were 5 tables with 7 people at each table.
The participants included 6 teachers,::1 elementary,2 middle school, and 3 high school teachers. I counted 5 high level Administrators, there may have been more in attendance. If you consider the salaries of the District employees on this “Council” and turn it into an hourly cost, It would be astronomical. The agenda said the meeting would begin at 9:00 and end at 12:30.
I was told the remaining participants were parents and community members.
Just like David Gordon, it was interesting the Board Member left out the fact that participating “parents” were past school teachers in the District, spouses of current teachers/counselors and/or parents with no knowledge about Literacy who were asked to be on the Council by District employees. They did not volunteer. Some joked that it was a “mandatory volunteer” thing for them. Some employees with no knowledge about Literacy wondered aloud why they were “asked” (required) to attend. The “community members” had ties to the District too. One was a past TESD Board Member.
When members of a “Council” know nothing about the topic of Literacy, why the “Council” was formed, why they were asked to participate on the “Council”,
and are financially dependent on the District for their livelihood, its hard for there to be an environment conducive for a meaningful exchange of ideas on the topic.
Even though the participants are seated at round tables, the Curriculum Council (or students) face just one person, the “leader” (teacher), the Districts Curriculum Supervisor. This is a performance, not an attempt to engage participants in a meaningful exchange on the topic of literacy. The round tables are an attempt o pretend they want a reciprocal relationship.
She opened up the meeting by saying how good it was to see former members of the Curriculum Council sitting in the group. If a former Curriculum Council existed, then they met in private, took secret notes and locked them up, away from public view or input because no one had heard of the existence of a Curriculum Council until last Spring.
As expected, there was a slide show created by the Administration. I suppose there are 5 tables of participants because as we learned from the teacher, there are 5 pillars of literacy. Each table of participants (students) were assigned a Literacy pillar and given a big piece of construction paper just like the ones you see in your child’s kindergarten class. The assignment was to write down your “wonderings” on the construction paper. After the students completed their assignment, she then taped the construction paper to the wall in the room like you would see in your child’s kindergarten class.
Please go to tereads.com
Please click on letter to the School Board.
The letter will explain to you why the Administration is hosting sham Curriculum Council meetings that mean nothing and drain the heart, soul and energy out of every person in attendance and wastes thousands of dollars of taxpayer money.
The parents who created Everyone Reads TE did so because of the following:
“Unfortunately, our many hours of dialogue with T/E School District leaders have surfaced numerous significant issues with reading instruction:”
District administrators have actively avoided sharing TESD reading performance data – raising community concerns that they must have something to hide.
The District is using the weakest curriculum in the K–12 market, as validated by respected third-party reviews.
TESD reading instruction is not aligned with large bodies of evidence on how kids learn to read.
The district’s approach to student benchmark assessment is not inline with established best practice.
Teachers and leaders in TESD are not using the collected criterion-referenced benchmark student data to inform reading instruction, because the District has not created systems to support this practice.
District leadership does not appear seriously invested in resolving these issues. In fact, it seems most invested in maintaining the status quo.
Students in TESD are experiencing negative consequences with potentially lifelong outcomes.
I suggest, that at the next Curriculum Council Meeting, the District Curriculum Supervisor stop talking to participants forced to be there like she’s their teacher and they are 5 year old children. I suggest she make the topics outlined above the agenda for the next meeting, give a topic to each table to discuss, and have a group leader from each table report to the Council. I suggest she invite more than 2 members of the expert parents on Literacy to join the Council and have at least one of them sit at each table. No construction paper required. No talk about “wonderings,”
There are 35+ people on the Council. Every parent involved in tereads should have a seat on the Council. The Administration/Board Liason invited two. They are the reason the Administration was forced to create the Council and they are represented by only 2 expert parents on the topic of Literacy.
Stop the charade, stop wasting our tax payer money. If you’re going to have a Council, make it count.