Pattye Benson

Community Matters

fiscal responsibilitiy

VFES Tennis Courts: Looking for an explanation from TESD President Kevin Buraks

The Valley Forge Elementary School tennis courts are on tonight’s agenda of the TESD. Every time you think that this situation has moved forward, it takes a couple of steps backwards. As a result, it is unclear exactly what is going to come out of tonight’s meeting — will the courts stay or will they go?

At the District Facilities Meeting on Friday, April 12, the committee voted to recommend to the school board that the tennis courts be saved. Having attended the Facilities Meeting, I took that to mean that their recommendation would be discussed at the next regular School Board meeting (tonight). I presumed that the Facilities Committee would first make the recommendation; but then it would be up to the full School Board to ‘act’ on that recommendation.

However, at the same time that the Facilities Meeting was going on, a draft tennis court agreement was sent from the District to the Township. We learned of that proposal at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, April 15 from chair Michelle Kichline. Kichline, with concurrence from Township Solicitor Vince Donohue, suggested legal problems with the proposal … specifically, that the District was asking for stormwater relief from the Township, in exchange for the tennis courts. After all the discussion that has taken place on this topic, it is impossible to understand why the School Board cannot accept that a stormwater-tennis court trade is not legally possible. Why would the School District submit such a proporal to the township that included storm water relief? We were led to believe at the Facilities Committee meeting, that the school district was interested in a reasonable settlement of the tennis courts situation. However, the proposed agreement suggests otherwise. Who wrote this draft agreement … the School District Solicitor Ken Roos?

Beyond the legalities of the proposal, I am struggling to understand how this agreement was sent to the township before the School Board reviewed it. How could the School Board review the draft agreement before the Facilities Committee even sent them their recommendation? Did School Board president Kevin Buraks review the tennis court proposal and authorize its release to the Township? Doesn’t proper procedure count for anything? Where’s the sunshine?

The outcome from the Board of Supervisors meeting was the suggestion for the School District and Township solicitors to prepare the tennis court agreement. Donohue and Roos are left to ‘hash’ out the agreement between the two entities at the taxpayer’s expense. Neither TESD nor Tredyffrin Township can afford the legal expense that has now been created by this situation. With all the talks of cuts in the school district, threats of outsourcing, etc. where’s the fiscal responsibility?

But here we are with the tennis courts on tonight’s School Board agenda. The saga continues …

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