Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Easttown Township

It’s Official . . . Announcing Candidates for Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors & Tredyffrin-Easttown School Board!

Tuesday, March 8th was the deadline to file petitions for Pennsylvania’s May 17, 2011 primary election.

Special thanks goes to Mike Broadhurst, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee and Dariel Jamieson, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee for providing the names of candidates for the Board of Supervisors and the Tredyffrin Easttown School Board. Mike and Dariel have agreed to supply the bios and/or resumes of each of the supervisor and school director candidates which I will provide in a future post on Community Matters.

Note on School Director candidates: To become a school board candidate, you must file a petition signed by at least 10 qualified voters of the school district for the political party with which the petition will be filed. It is my understanding that all school board candidates are cross-filing. To cross-file in a primary election (that is, to run on both political parties), a registered Democrat or Republican must circulate a proper petition for the other party. The petition must contain signatures as previously mentioned. If elected on both party ballots in the May primary, a candidate will appear on both party ballots in the general election in November.

The candidates for the May 17, 2011 primary election are as follows:

The Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

  • Region 1: James Bruce **
  • Region 1: Tara G. LaFiura
  • Region 2: Kristine Graham
  • Region 2: Elizabeth Mercogliano

The Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

  • Region 1: Karen Cruickshank **
  • Region 1: Jerry Henige
  • Region 2: Scott Dorsey
  • Region 2: Jenny Wessels

The Easttown Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidate for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

  • Easttown, Region 3: Peter Motel **

The Easttown Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidate for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

  • Easttown, Region 3: No Candidate

For Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidates:

  • Supervisor at Large: Michael Heaberg **
  • Supervisor at Large: Kristen Kirk Mayock
  • District 1 East: Paul Olson **
  • District 3 West: John DiBuonaventuro **

For Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates:

  • Supervisor at Large: Molly Duffy
  • Supervisor at Large: Ernani (Ernie) Falcone
  • District 1 East: Victoria (Tory) Snyder
  • District 3 West: No Candidate

For Tredyffrin Township Auditor, the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidate:

  • Bryan Humbarger

For Tredyffrin Township Auditor, the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidate:

  • No Candidate

For Chester County Magisterial District Judge, District Court 15-4-01, the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidate:

  • Jeremy Blackburn **

For Chester County Magisterial District Judge, District Court 15-4-01, the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidate:

  • Analisa Sondergaard

** Incumbent

Should T/E School District Join Others in Increasing Public Meeting Security?

In December, I think we all watched with disbelief the footage of Clay Duke, the disgruntled husband of a former school employee who opened fire on school board members in Panama City, Florida. Duke’s wife had been fired from her special ed teaching job in the Florida school district. The school board video showed Duke complaining about taxes and his wife’s firing before shooting at close range as the superintendent begged, “Please don’t.” There were several rounds exchanged with a school security officer, who wounded him, before he took his own life. Amazingly, no one else was injured during the shooting.

The Florida shooting was a wake-up call for many school districts around the country; many of which are considering increasing security at public meetings. Various security options considered include security guards, police presence, or requiring all meeting attendees to pass through some type metal detector or the use of a handheld detector. Protection at school board meetings is not just for the elected officials. As the discussion on our school district’s budget deficits increases, with discussion of property tax increases, programming cuts and possible staff reductions, there are more parents, teachers, staff, citizens, press, and sometimes students attending the meetings. As schools nationwide face this financial education crunch, heated moments and frustrated community members cannot be far behind.

Unlike Tredyffrin’s township meetings, which are held in the same building as the township police department, the T/E School Board meetings are held at the high school or the school district office. The Downingtown School District has made the decision to increase security at their school board meetings. Their decision to have security at regularly scheduled school board meetings was based on the Florida school board shooting as well as the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford. Starting this week, Downingtown School District has contracted with their police department for security at their meetings.

Although I am certain that T/E School District has an emergency management plan, I wonder if there is anything specific to public board meetings. You cannot predict or prepare for random acts of violence. However, circumstances that have happened nationwide in recent memory and given the time of which we live, unfortunately require this type of discussion.

Should school boards assess and appropriately upgrade awareness, along with security and preparedness measures, for their board meetings? Certainly. School districts need to be proactive (rather than reactive) in examining prevention, security and preparedness practices. We understand that no school district has a blank check for security or any other support service. School districts everywhere are under unprecedented financial crunches. But it is during a time when society is under intense economic pressure that violence and related security risks will likely increase.

I am curious, has T/E School District reviewed its public meeting security policies?

Should Teachers Be Consulted in School Budget Discussion?

The following editorial appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on January 12. While many school districts across the State, including Tredyffrin-Easttown, are facing multi-million dollar budget deficits, this editorial explores the problem from a different angle; through the eyes of a teacher.

There has been much discussion on Community Matters about our school district budget problems. Question, do you think that we (the school board, administration, parents, and taxpayers) give adequate attention to the opinions of those most affected in this process . . . the teachers? Do you think the teacher’s voice is disregarded (or minimized) in budget discussions? Or, is it the teacher unions that are quieting the teacher voices?

If you did not see the editorial, please read it and weigh in on this discussion.

Our least-consulted experts on education
. . . Teachers are rarely given a say on school policy
By Christopher Paslay, a Philadelphia schoolteacher and the author of “The Village Proposal,” to be published this fall.

The Philadelphia School District is facing a projected $430 million budget deficit in the next fiscal year. As a result, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has asked her administrators to prepare contingency plans for a massive budget cut. There will undoubtedly be a significant impact on students and staff in the city’s schools.

To soften this impact, administrators could ask teachers what support they need in classrooms and what they can do without. Teachers are ultimately held accountable for student learning, so it would make sense if they were consulted on the budget overhaul.

Unfortunately, though, when it comes to matters of budget and education policy, the opinions of schoolteachers aren’t given much credence. In the 21st century, public educators are paid to perform, not talk.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan exhibited this attitude last year in a speech to students at Columbia University. “In our new era of accountability,” Duncan said, “it is not enough for a teacher to say, ‘I taught it, but the students didn’t learn it.’ As [Stanford education professor] Linda Darling-Hammond has pointed out, that is akin to saying, ‘The operation was a success, but the patient died.’ ”

Like a surgeon?
The analogy comparing schoolteachers to surgeons is an interesting one. Surgeons are regarded as experts and treated as specialists. During surgery, they are provided with a complex system of support so they can focus on their area of expertise.

Teachers, on the other hand, are treated as jacks of all trades. They teach, but they also discipline, police, and parent. They write and grade lessons, but they also make phone calls and photocopies. They calculate report-card grades and compose syllabi, but they also chaperone dances, monitor hallways, and break up fights.

Teachers are basically responsible for everything that needs to be done to allow their students to learn. Their instruction is highly scrutinized and held to rigorous standards, but they are not treated as instructional specialists.

Imagine if a surgeon were expected to administer anesthesia, monitor vital signs, and give blood transfusions during a surgery. Imagine if he were required to make all the phone calls to patients to remind them not to eat for 12 hours before the operation. Imagine if he were responsible for maintaining order in the waiting area. How might this affect his performance?

But we regard surgeons as highly skilled, and we respect their opinions. We regard teachers, on the other hand, as educational grunts. Their insights about their own profession are often dismissed by education leaders as uninformed.

Data and power

Education is one of the few professions in America in which policies are written and decisions are made by governing bodies outside the field. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers all govern themselves. Their panels and boards of directors are made up of other doctors, lawyers, and engineers. The same holds true for counselors, carpenters, and electricians. Even professors and researchers are subject to peer review.

Not teachers, though. Politicians make the decisions when it comes to education in K-12 schools. So do researchers, think tanks, and lobbyists. Does it matter that most of these people have little to no experience teaching in a K-12 classroom? No, because they have the data and the power.

And what do the teachers have to offer? Just experience. Just thousands of hours of trial and error, of dealing with children, parents, curriculum, and content. That’s all the teachers bring to the table. Unfortunately, these contributions aren’t “data-driven,” and they lack political backing. As a result, they aren’t accorded much value.

But if education leaders are going to demand that teachers perform with the precision of surgeons, then teachers should be treated as specialists. Their experience and expertise should be used to reform policy and set budgets so they can get the educational support they need to help children succeed.

TESD Finance Meeting Update – TESD owns 16 acres in Chesterbrook!

I thank Ray Clarke for attending last night’s TESD Finance Committee Meeting. In discussion of the 2011/12 budget, the school district is trying to balance the preservation of the quality of education vs. the need to reduce costs and the challenge that struggle presents.

In reading Ray’s notes, I was surprised to learn that the school district owns 16 acres in Chesterbrook! This is interesting news to me because I thought there was only one remaining building lot in Chesterbrook and that is property owned by Pitcarin. Perhaps the acreage owned by TESD is directly adjacent to the Valley Forge Middle School and was purchased should the need arise for expansion to the middle school? If the property is not located directly adjacent to the middle school, than I am not sure it can be used for building.

Any readers with more information on these 16 acres? How did the school district come to own it . . . and why. Ray wonders if the property is deeded open space. If this is protected property, I guess I am naive because I didn’t know that TESD owned this type of property. Qyestion — is selling the Chesterbrook property an option? Don’t know if that is a viable solution (given the current economic situation) but one does have to wonder the value of the property.

Ray Clarke’s notes from 1/10/11 TESD Finance Committee Meeting:

After a great BCS game (which will have pleased Rich Brake!), a few of my takeaways from the meeting. It was taped, so readers will be able to judge for themselves. The focus was on current year performance, the details of the financial projection model and a quick run-through of the “Level 1” budget strategies.

1. The usually solid financial administration stumbled quite a bit in its attempt to explain the details and to reconcile the different looks at the financials and assumptions. It was really hard to follow, and I’m sure the next iteration will be better. It’s important that it is!

2. The current year continues to track better than budget, towards a very small fund balance contribution, depending on unpredictable (really?) movement across the salary matrix. There seems to be an interesting no-cost opportunity for Kevin Buraks’ law firm to ratchet up delinquent collections. Nice to see a budget strategy show up in increased rental income.

3. There’s room to tweak the assumptions in the projection model and its associated $7.6 million gap in 2011/12. Perhaps the base for medical benefits may end up being too high if current experience carries through (but it’s not clear why costs for fully covered T/E employees would have the same experience as the population at large). Also there was a very important discussion about purchased services, often required for special education amongst other things. The message is clear: even if quantity has to increase to meet needs, the only direction for price has to be down. The administration was unable to provide the P/Q split for the projected 5% increase

4. Dr Waters introduced the budget strategy discussion with a statement to which I won’t do justice here, but essentially noted that what worked in the past may not do so in the future and so not all change is bad, that not everything the district does is mandated or essential to educational quality and that the community can choose the level and timeliness of services it is willing to support. Many of the $1.3 million in Level 1 strategies look realistic and even already in place (although a good number are one time), but others need debate and union cooperation. Perhaps $1 million to take to the bank.

5. We didn’t get to Strategy Levels 2 and 3 (need more video game practice?!), but I encourage everyone to find a copy before the next meeting. There are many that look like good ideas, but also many for which I myself would pay more taxes if I were convinced there were no alternative options. And, who knew, there are 16 acres of idle district property right in the middle of Chesterbrook! Not sure if it’s deeded open space or if it’s developable.

6. Some discussion of the next TEEA contract, making it clear to all, as has been pointed out here, that the current matrix will be done on June 30, 2012. After that the district position needs to be: what combination of salary, benefits and deferred compensation comes to a level that the community can afford? Of course, as opposed to that, being frozen on the matrix with no new contract may be a reasonable union strategy (viz: Neshaminy).

Finally, a “Must See” event for the Valentine’s Day Finance Committee – our “Strategic Debt Counselor” will be on hand to prevaricate about the relationship between bond rating and fund balance.

TESD Finance Meeting Tonight . . . 2011-12 budget discussions continue

The Tredyffrin Easttown School District continues its 2011-12 budget discussion at tonight’s Finance Committee meeting, 7:30 – 9:30 PM (Click here for meeting agenda).

The meetings are open to the public and will be held in meeting room 200 of the Tredyffrin/Easttown Administration Building at 940 West Valley Road, Suite 1700 in Wayne.

Here is the link to the official recap of the Special School Board meeting as contained in the publication Action Line from the school district.

TESD Finance Committee Meeting . . . Raise School Taxes vs Eliminating School Buses or Support for Athletics? Notes from Ray Clarke

In the midst of packing to leave for a family holiday, Ray Clarke was still able to attend last night’s School Board’s Finance Committee meeting. We are all grateful that Ray attends the meetings and then kindly supplies his notes. Thank you my friend and happy travel! Below are Ray’s notes and I think you find them interesting! With the looming deficit, we are not surprised at the direction of our school taxes . . . but tax increase vs. elimination of school buses or support for athletics? Don’t think those options are likely to be approved.

There was a well-attended meeting of the TESD Finance Committee on Monday night. There was much material to cover, though, and not much time for input from the 30 or so community members present. Since the size of the problem and contentiousness-level (sorry!) of some of the ideas is off the charts, all the Finance Committee could really do was kick the can down the road.

No surprise, the Committee voted to recommend that the full board vote on January 3rd to apply to the state for Exceptions to be able to increase property taxes by 2.8% on top of the Act 1 increase of 1.4% – total 4.2% increase. This would also involve publishing a preliminary budget at that time that shows a budget deficit (after the tax increases) of somewhere in the $4-5 million range (depending on whether any expense reductions are included).

Important to note: this recommendation keeps options open. On the revenue front, the Board could 1) still ask for a higher tax increase through a voter referendum (but could not now ask for an EIT), 2) ask voters to approve any tax increase beyond 1.4% (and not apply for Exceptions), 3) hold the increase to zero or 1.4%. On expenses, there seem to be $1-2 million of “Level 1” and other strategies that could reasonably be implemented for 2011/12. The gap between revenues and expenses that results from the final choices on the above dimensions would be met from the fund balance. Kevin Mahoney and Debbie Bookstaber seemed to be favoring revenue option (2).

A few numbers that caught my eye:

1. This year’s operating statement is being strongly fortified by delinquent tax collections and by reduced PSERS contributions that are each projected to be ~$750,000 favorable to budget, resulting (with other puts and takes) in a reduction of the expected contribution from the fund balance from $1.5 to $2 million.

2. The district is finally publishing and using figures that reflect TEEA increases closer to the effect of the actual salary matrix. The aggregate salary increase for 2011/12 is projected to be 7.33%, and may go higher with more movement across the matrix.

3. The projections use historical rates of increase for medical and prescription costs (10-15% per year); it seems possible that current experience will turn out to be more favorable.

4. The “base case” used for starting points includes the Act 1 tax increase of 1.4%. This is different from other years when the base case is the current tax rate. With no tax increase and no additional expense reductions, next year’s gap would be $8.8 million. This includes $470,000 add back of “one-time” strategies used last year.

5. Options to close the close the gap with no tax increase include things like: elimination of school buses ($2 million) and of support for athletics ($1.5 million), outsourcing custodial services ($0.95 million), further reducing aides ($0.8 million). There was no indication that the Board would seriously consider these, although there was commentary about transportation inefficiencies observed by some Board members. Interesting that the option to hold administration salaries flat (impact $150,000) was included with these “Level 2” strategies. There is also a set of strategies to eliminate teaching positions that if approved by the Education Committee/Board and if staff attrition occurs would eventually save $3 million/year ($525,000 of this will be up for approval at the 1/32011 Board meeting).

6. Going forward, the problem compounds – even with a model that includes no TEEA compensation increases (none!). The issues are flat assessed values, healthcare costs, and PSERS (no, Harrisburg didn’t fix it!). One audience member cited research that predicts that property values and employment don’t reset and resume growth until 2016. That ~$5 million in earned income taxes paid to other jurisdictions seems pretty important, as do healthcare benefit cost-sharing programs and index-linked compensation in future union contracts. Maybe we will continue to look to the state for PSERS help, but there is clearly a lot that can be done at the local level.

There was much talk of the educational value delivered by the T/E program. Dan Waters compared Lower Merion expenditures and Kevin Buraks asked for comparisons of tax rates of neighboring districts (but this blog knows we need to look at rate times assessed value too).

Finally, there was an interesting aside that the Great Valley School district has asked for support for a County-wide property reassessment. Not sure what that means, except at the least a correction of imbalances that have built up over the years.

Hopefully, there were other CM readers at the meeting who can amplify and raise things I’ve missed here.

TESD Facilities Committee Meeting – Presentation of $3 Million Plan to Upgrade IT Network

Ray Clarke attended the school district’s Facilities Committee meeting and graciously sent me notes. Although I have been married to a computer marketing guru for 30 years, I certainly don’t claim to have any understanding of the IT world. However, it is almost certain that when organizations make significant IT changes/upgrades — they are nearly out of date by the time they are installed. Because computer technology is constantly changing and advancing in today’s world, it can be difficult (and costly) to stay current. Technology experts — we could use your thoughts on the school district’s IT network upgrade plans.

Ray Clarke’s TESD Facilities Committee Meeting Notes . . .

Friday’s TESD Facilities Committee meeting was most notable for a presentation of a $3 million plan to upgrade the IT network. Happily, the Committee gave approval for only initial consultant planning work. Hopefully more of the community can be present for that report to learn what exactly is to be done, when, and what the practical user benefits will be.

The basic argument went as follows: “Text books and teaching materials are becoming more available electronically. Therefore we need a) higher speeds in the district network, and b) wireless network availability throughout the high school (already in place?), the middle schools and eventually the elementary schools.” The consultant waved his iPad, and stated it was useless without a network. But, is the converse also true?

Are we therefore setting the District up for an ongoing cascade of expenditure? The Committee was adamantly against the provision of mobile devices to students. Will they therefore be able to bring their own? Will our classrooms come to resemble the Ivy League class my wife and I sat in on, where 90% of the students were on Facebook, playing video games, IM’ing their buddies a few rows down, etc.?

The $3 million will expand the network speed from 1 to 10 gigabtyes per second. That’s nice. Is the network slow now? What’s the current capacity? What’s the correlation between capacity and response time perceived by the user? How much capacity does a “multi-media-rich, interactive web-based” class need? How many such classes could the current network support? What would happen if every class had one of those presentations at the same time? (And if they did, what would that say about our ability to have our students actually engage in stimulating discussion with the teacher and their peers, and actually learn to THINK?)

We’ll know the temperature and humidity in the switch closets. Also nice to know, but are we having sauna/steam room problems now? Further, it would be nice to have every phone in the school have immediate emergency power before the generators kick in, but what problems are created by the current situation?

I trust that there are answers to these and other questions. Dr Motel and the Committee were absolutely right in not giving carte blanche to this proposal and in asking for a real plan. Perhaps the bottom line question should be: How will our students benefit?

The 10 year capital plan – without solutions for district storage and maintenance facilities and with no provision for ongoing IT needs – shows the $15 million from last year’s bond being used up during 2014/15. The next tranche of bond funds at the same interest rate would be available just in time (I think (?)). Otherwise that $9 million designated for capital in the General Fund (if indeed it’s still there) would be needed.

Not much leeway, it seems to me.

Tredyffrin’s 2011 Budget Unveiled – No Tax Increase! TESD Finance Comittee News Not as Positive

Due to last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting change (due to Election Day), I was unable to attend. However, I have received an update about the township’s proposed 2011 budget. (Here is a link to the proposed 2011 budget). It is my understanding that the proposed budget includes (1) no increase in taxes; (2) no reduction in township services or personnel; and (3) restoring of fire company contributions to 2009 levels. Considering that Lower Merion’s residents are facing a 12.7% tax increase in their 2011 budget, last night’s news is particularly good for Tredyffrin residents!

Having not see the proposed budget and having not attended last night’s supervisors meeting, I do have a question for anyone who did attend — how was the township building’s HVAC capital expense factored in to the 2011 budget? If you recall, there has been much discussion about valve and duct work replacement in the HVAC system and the associated costs. Does anyone have information how the needed HVAC work was treated in the proposed 2011 budget?

Although last night’s supervisors meeting was over by 8:15 PM, it seems that there was more discussion at TESD’s Finance Committee meeting. I counted on my friend, Ray Clarke to provide notes from the meeting and as usual, his detailed notes did not let me down. Thank you Ray!

TESD Finance Committee Notes from Ray Clarke —

Monday’s TESD Finance Committee meeting was largely devoting to laying the groundwork for property tax increases.

This year’s revenues and expenses are largely in balance, with the shortfall in transfer taxes offset by Harrisburg’s deferral of PSERS costs and many smaller ups (eg salaries) and downs (eg FTEs). The projection for next year remains for the moment at a $6.9 million deficit, but a detailed review of the assumptions in the model revealed another $1 million of overly optimistic assumptions: a 1% increase in assessed value and a 2% return on investments. (The $1 million over-generous (in today’s times) transfer tax formula was not discussed). The model will be re-worked with new assumptions (a 0.26% assessment decline and a 1% investment return, not done at the meeting), but it seems clear to me that the deficit is going to be north of $8 million, as discussed here last month.

Leftover 2010/11 budget strategies likely to be implemented in 2011/12 could be worth a benefit of $0.8 million, although they would have to be phased in only as attrition allows.

The Board then reviewed the timetable for the processes required to a) define and request available exceptions to the increase property taxes beyond the Act 1 limit ($1.2 million) and b) prepare a referendum question for a property tax increase beyond the probable [Act 1 + Exception] limit ($2.8 million).

What this means is that the proposed preliminary budget must be discussed at the next Finance Committee meeting on December 13th if the School Board is to vote on requesting exceptions at its January 24th meeting.

If there is any intent to raise taxes above the Act 1 limit, the 2011/12 budget must be adopted by mid-February.

So, the pressure is on in the next couple of months. If the Board voted against even considering whether to ask the community to implement an EIT that 40% are already paying, can they really ask for a referendum to increase property taxes by a greater amount? The alternative is likely to be raiding the General Fund for the $5 million shortfall (bringing it down to $23 million), and thus pushing off the problem until 2012/13, . Likely still OK for the bond rating.

In that year, of course, the PSERS problem will hit hard under the current formula – a $5 – 6 million net cost increase. Plus of course another 4.5% TENIG increase and a new TEEA contract. A deficit, after more property tax increases, of $10 million, say. That would take the fiund balance into tricky territory. There was much discussion of the need for a state fix to PSERS and the spectre of School District bankruptcies (not TESD!) was raised.

Maybe it will actually take defaults and bond-holder restructuring to force the kind of constitutional changes needed to reform current pension plans. Dealing with the problem by squeezing new hires may solve long run accounting, but will there be enough cash to get through the short term, and if we do, how will we be able to attract a next generation of teachers of the needed caliber?

There’s probably more to comment on, but I’ll stop with the interesting sidebar that the average wage cost of a teacher used in calculation of budget strategy savings was raised from $73,000 to $80,000 – a 9.6% increase. This recognizes the actual individual year-on-year salary increase built in to the current contract and hidden in the 5% numbers much publicized officially.

Tredyffrin-Easttown School Board’s Finance Committee Meeting – Tonight – As Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors Unveil their Proposed 2011 Budget

The T/E School Board’s Finance Committee Meeting is tonight, Monday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 PM. The next school-board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 PM. Meetings are held at the school district’s administration offices, Room 200, West Valley Business Center, 940 W. Valley Road, Suite 1700, Wayne. Here is the Finance Committee agenda.

A visit to the school district’s website offers Earned Income Tax information, updated on October 26 after the T/E School Board decided not to move forward with the EIT referendum at their October 25 school board meeting.

As a follow-up to the last T/E school board meeting, here is an article that appeared in yesterday’s Main Line Media paper. The school board’s Finance Committee meeting occurs tonight as the township’s Board of Supervisors unveil their proposed 2011 budget. Could be an interesting night on both accounts!

T/E School Board shelves EIT; 2011-12 budget gap remains
By Alan Thomas

Hang on. There may be a collision.

The Tredyffrin/Easttown School Board decided not to push an earned income tax of 1 percent for Tredyffrin and Easttown residents for 2011-12 during its Oct. 25 meeting while, at the same time, its Web site notes that the district is facing a “projected budget gap for the 2011-12 school year of $6.9 million.”

The tax proposal would have been subject to approval in a May 2011 primary-election-ballot referendum. And so the EIT proposal was apparently advanced as the preferred way of avoiding hitting the budget gap head-on. Or so it might have seemed.

At a community informational meeting held at Conestoga High School Oct. 18, around 100 residents heard presentations from Pennsylvania Economy League representative Steve Wray and school-district solicitor Kenneth Roos laying out both advantages and disadvantages to the levy. A week later the board decided not to move forward with the EIT while also moving to “further study” the topic in 2011.

Board secretary and business manager Arthur J. McDonnell said that “the process [of looking at the possibility of an EIT] was started about a year ago. We came up with a series of strategies [to overcome the projected budget gap].” With the present proposal now tabled, McDonnell said that the board would “begin studying it [again] in early spring.” McDonnell did not comment on reasons why the board had made an apparent U-turn.

According to a Web-obtained document attributed to “Inquirer research on county ballot documents,” 63 school districts in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties have or are proposing either EITs or PITs. Personal income taxes (PITs) include dividends, interest, income from trusts, bonds, insurance and stocks as taxable whereas EITs do not.

According to Berkheimer Tax Administrator and posted on the school district’s FAQ Web page, “one-third of the T/E residents currently employed are paying an EIT [to another school district, totaling $3.58 million].”

The projected budget gap will be there.

Berwyn Fire Company’s Annual Halloween Parade – Saturday, October 30th – Public Invited!

You are Invited!

Berwyn Fire Company’s Annual Halloween Parade
When: Saturday, October 30
Time: 7 – 8:30 PM
Where: Parade starts at First & Bridge Ave. Berwyn and ends at the Berwyn Fire Company

The Annual Halloween Parade in Berwyn is this Saturday and the community is invited! Sponsored by the Devon-Berwyn Business Association, the Berwyn Fire Company is hosting their Annual Halloween Parade for the community.

Please arrive by 6:45 PM so that the parade can begin at 7 PM. Open to all ages there will be prizes for the scariest, funniest, and cutest costumes. Following the parade, light refreshments will be served at the fire station – and judging of costumes!

Thank you Berwyn Fire Company and Devon-Berwyn Business Association!

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