Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Pattye Benson

T/E Superintendent disputes Montgomery County DA report — Conestoga High School NOT involved in drug trafficking

Conestoga High SchoolIn the days since the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office announced the drug trafficking arrests, including the two ringleaders, Haverford School graduates, the story has become widely reported — from CNN to Good Morning America, there are articles and videos on the subject.

I’m certain that an expensive prep school such as the elite Haverford School (with upper school tuition approaching $35K) is in overdrive with damage control — much is at stake with current parents and the endowments of wealthy alum. With a tag line on their website of “Preparing Boys for Life”, the Haverford School struggles to handle the PR nightmare.

Watching Good Morning America report on the story and the high schools (Lower Merion, Haverford School, Radnor, Harriton and Conestoga) and the colleges (Lafayette, Haverford and Gettysburg) was sad — and really eerie to the Conestoga High School logo flash on the TV screen along with the others. But is all the information contained in the Montgomery County DA’s press release of April 21 accurate? Apparently, not according to T/E Superintendent Dan Waters.

Waters has just released a T/E School District press release which disputes the report of the Montgomery County DA’s office. Although Conestoga High School was named by the District Attorney in the list of Main Line high schools involved in the drug ring, Waters claims that the information is not correct. According to Waters in the following press release, no students were identified or arrested from Conestoga High School in this recent drug trafficking incident. Don’t get me wrong, I want to believe that Waters is correct and that no Conestoga students are involved but it seems strange that the DA’s office would just add Conestoga High School to the list of high schools involved — how does a District Attorney make that kind of mistake? If Waters is correct and that the Montgomery County DA’s office erred in their report, shouldn’t the T/E School District board and administration demand a retraction? Shouldn’t Conestoga High School be removed from the list?

Below is Dr. Waters response to the Montgomery County District Attorney April 21 press release — you make your own judgement. Coincidentally, the T/E Public Information Committee, chaired by T/E school board member Scott Dorsey, is holding their regularly monthly meeting tonight (6:30 PM, Administration building). Although the agenda for tonight’s meeting was set before these recent drug arrests, there is certain to be discussion. At every school board meeting, president Kevin Buraks invites the public to attend committee meetings, stating that the ‘real’ work is done at the committee level. With that in mind, I’m guessing that the Public Information committee meeting may have a ‘higher than normal’ attendance.

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s office press release reported on recent drug related arrests naming nearby high schools and colleges. The press release once again highlights the need for continued efforts to provide a safe learning environment for our students. I write to inform our community that we continue to be vigilant regarding the use of drugs and alcohol by our students within our community.

The safety of our students is paramount in our efforts to provide them with a safe learning environment. The District’s drug and alcohol practices and policies include prevention, deterrence and support for our students. The prevention strategies include classroom education efforts, schoolwide programs, student activities supporting healthy lifestyles and counseling programs. Deterrence efforts include random canine sniffs supported by the police and the enforcement of the drug and alcohol policy when applicable. Support for our students include individual counseling by our school counselors and mental health specialists. The Conestoga High School student support team, known as CARE, accepts referrals from students, parents and staff to assist students who may be in need of services. In addition, drug and alcohol counselors provided through COAD (Chester County Council on Addictive Diseases) are available to our students and families. Within the community, we have our on-going strong partnerships with ARCH (Area Residents Caring and Helping) and the police departments of both townships.

Recently, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office issued a press release which mentioned a drug distribution ring in local high schools and colleges. Although Conestoga High School was mentioned as one of the schools in the news report, at this time, according to the affidavits forwarded to me from the Montgomery County District Attorney, there were no sellers arrested or identified from Conestoga High School. We recognize that future arrest warrants may be issued by the District Attorney if the investigation continues. We are prepared to assist law enforcement officials when they request our involvement in investigations. What can we do as a community? As the police have directed us in the past, we are all encouraged to contact the police department with information concerning illegal drug activity in our community.

Please contact the school principal, school counselor or me should you have any questions or concerns.

Dan Waters
Superintendent of Schools
Tredyffrin/Easttown School District

2014 Pennsylvania School District Rankings based on PSSA scores are in — Unionville Chadds Ford tops the list, Radnor moves up to third and T/E places fifth

Spring is PSSA time for public schools in Pennsylvania and the results for 2014 as reported in the Pittsburgh Business Times reveal exciting news for Unionville Chadds Ford School District (UCFSD). For those interested in this type of school district rankings, UCFSD now tops the state’s list, having ousted long-standing Upper St. Clair School District for the number one position based on 2014 PSSA results. The Upper St. Clair School District located in suburban Pittsburgh, had previously held the first place title for the last eight years but dropped to fourth in the rankings behind UCFSD, Mt. Lebanon (Allegheny County) and Radnor school districts for 2014.

The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) formula ranks the school districts based on three years of state standardized test scores, giving the most weight to the current year. The PSSA is a standards-based assessment of what a student should know and be able to do at varying levels in reading, writing, science and math. Reading and math is assessed in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11; writing is assessed in grades 5, 8 and 11 and science assessed in grades 4, 8 and 11. The rankings do not denote the overall quality and performance of the school district, only the PSSA scores.

Although the 2014 rankings show Upper St. Clair School District dropping to fourth place, another Allegheny County school district, Mt. Lebanon holds at second place. This is the fourth consecutive year that I have tracked the top 15 school districts and the highlighted line in the chart below indicates that T/E School District has moved from second in 2011, third in 2012, fourth in 2013 and to fifth place in the 2014 PSSA rankings. Last year we saw UCFSD drop from second in 2012 to third in 2013. However, UCFSD turned it around for 2014 and ended up first in the rankings. Looking at other Main Line school districts, Radnor had dropped from fourth to sixth in 2013 but they also changed direction and are now third in the state. Great Valley School District jumped a couple of spots this year and for 2014, their PSSA scores have them ranked at 11th in the state.

Looking at the ‘Top 15’ school districts in Pennsylvania (based on PSSA results), Allegheny County continues as the number one county with six school districts represented followed by Chester County with three school districts (Unionville Chadds Ford, Great Valley and T/E), Delaware County with three school districts (Radnor, Wallingford Swarthmore and Rose Tree Media) and Montgomery County with one school district (Lower Merion).

A review of other area school districts indicates that Downingtown School District continues to improve; moving from 25th ranking in 2012 to 24th in 2013 and places at 22nd in 2014. Phoenixville School District moved up four positions this year from 98 in 2013 to 94 in 2014.

A Pennsylvania school district that places in the top 15 or 20 out of 500 districts statewide based on the PSSA exams is an achievement for which students, parents, teachers and administrators can all be proud. Many view PSSA scores as a reliable predictor of future success. As a tool for student assessment, the PSSA exam helps measure and provides useful information of what students are learning. The PSSAs measure the performance of the entire class and provide of measurement of how an overall class is performing.

Pennsylvania allows parents to exempt their children from standardized tests for religious reasons. Some elected officials, including State Sen. Andy Dinniman, have been publicly wary of the way standardized tests are used. As Minority Chair of the Senate Education Committee, he offers ‘Eight Reasons Why We Oppose Keystone Graduation Exams’, believing that it is fundamentally wrong for three standardized tests to determine a student’s high school graduation.

Beyond bragging rights for a school district or as a sales tool for local real estate agents, how important are these test results? Do children (and teachers) need this level of pressure to ‘measure up’?

PA School District Rankings, Based on PSSA Results for 2011 – 2014 years

School Rankings 14

Keep Your Kids Safe – Tredyffrin Township Police Department conducts special meeting for parents Saturday, April 12, 10 AM

The Tredyffrin Township Police Department together with Justice4pakids is sponsoring an important meeting tomorrow at the Tredyffrin Township Building at 10 AM. If you are a parent, plan on attending the meeting and earn how to better protect your children from sexual abuse. The guest speaker attorney Elizabeth Pitts is the Associate Director of Investigations for Swarthmore College. She was a Deputy District Attorney with the Chester County DA’s office for 20 years and supervised the County’s Child Abuse Unit for over a decade.

Justice4pakids is a coalition of advocates, survivors, legal and medical professionals and concerned citizens dedicated to bringing greater awareness regarding sexual abuse in children. The local group helps child sex abuse victims and has three main focus areas: improving statute of limitations laws, education through seminars and literature, and comforting victims by putting them in touch with professional organizations.

The purpose of tomorrow’s special seminar is to make families aware that “stranger danger awareness is not enough.”

Keep your kids safe

PennDOT patching potholes on state roads tomorrow!

potholesWith rising temperatures in the forecast, I just received a notice from PennDOT that they have scheduled pothole patching on state roads in the 5-county Philadelphia area for tomorrow! (See PennDOT press release below).

This week I was driving to King of Prussia on Rt. 202 North and could not believe the damage the winter weather has caused on the highway. I was in the right lane of Rt. 202 by the Rt. 422 exit, and there were large gaping holes in the roadway. I don’t know what type of filler they use in the seams but that materials was missing and it was very dangerous — you run the risk of hitting other cars in an attempt to avoid the holes. And then the damage to your car if you do hit the pothole!

It is almost impossible to drive along Lancaster Avenue and avoid the potholes, they are everywhere! Weaving in and of lanes to avoid the potholes, I think to myself — will the police understand my explanation if I get pulled over. I know that someone commented on CM, that although Rt. 30 is a state road, the repair work is done by the local municipal workers rather than PennDOT. We live on a state road and the repairs to the road have always been done by PennDOT so not certain why Lancaster Avenue would be treated any differently.

State Rep Warren Kampf has created a ‘Pothole Hotline’ for residents to report potholes on state roads. Residents in Kampf’s District are asked to call 610.251.2876 and report any potholes that are believed to be dangerous. Kampf has promised to pass the information on to PennDOT and to follow-up to make certain that the repair is done.

03/7/2014 – King of Prussia, PA.

With no snow in the forecast, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will once again take advantage of seasonable temperatures on Saturday (March 8) to repair potholes on state highways in the five-county Philadelphia region.

“We will have 27 crews working tomorrow to fill potholes with hot asphalt as we continue our aggressive plan to improve state roads that have been damaged during this relentless winter season,” PennDOT District Executive Lester C. Toaso said.

“PennDOT crews have been focused on filling potholes throughout the winter, except when snow duty called,” Toaso added. “The difference now is that hot asphalt is more readily available in the Philadelphia region and the use of this material enables us to make more permanent repairs.”

PennDOT crews work weekdays to repair potholes, but they also patched state roadways in the Philadelphia region on the weekend of Feb. 22-23, using nearly 600 tons of asphalt to fill holes in the pavement.

This year’s severe and early outbreak of potholes resulted from snow and ice seeping into pavements and temperature swings above and below the freezing mark.

A pothole develops when water penetrates into a roadway through pavement cracks and then freezes and expands, knocking loose small pieces of pavement. As cars and trucks ride over the area, cracks enlarge, more water enters and the cycle repeats itself to the point where the pavement fails.

Citizens can report potholes on state highways by calling 1-800-FIX-ROAD (1-800-349-7623).

Motorists can check conditions on major roadways by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 680 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available by calling 5-1-1, and regional Twitter alerts are available on the 511PA website.

Cut a Vine, Save a Tree! Open Land Conservancy Needs Your Help on Saturday

pruning sheers

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR VINE DAY

CUT A VINE — SAVE A TREE!

Saturday March 8, 2014
9 AM to 12 noon
GEORGE LORIMER PRESERVE

Special Meeting Location at
1812 Hawkweed Way in Summerhill

Has this winter left you suffering from cabin fever and a need to get outside for some fresh air? There’s a perfect opportunity this Saturday, March 8 to help the community and celebrate what we all hope is the end of winter!

The Open Land Conservancy of Chester County will be holding its Vine Day of the season on Saturday at George Lorimer Preserve, 9 AM – 12 Noon. Lorimer Preserve is 88 acres of meadows, woods, ponds, stream, and extensive trail system are managed to provide a variety of habitats for wildlife in a beautiful rural setting. Vines will be cut back so you will need to wear appropriate gloves and protective (and warm) clothing. Volunteers are asked to bring tools if you have those— pruners, saws, clippers. But not to worry, the volunteers from Open Land Conservancy will have extra tools. Open Land Conservancy invites you to give back to your community by helping with spring property maintenance.

For the second year, Trish and Stuart Gutsche are graciously hosting the Vine Day at the driveway on 1812 Hawkweed Way in the Summerhill Development. Volunteers may park on Hawkweed and volunteers will use the Summerhill entrance to the Lorimer Preserve behind the Gutsche residence. The Open Land Conservancy appreciates the hospitality of the Gutsche family! The Gutsche’s outstanding refreshments made last year’s Lorimer Vine Day the most popular Vine Day of the season!

Directions: Take Swedesford Road, turn onto Le Boutillier Road to Mill Road. Make a left on Mill and then a left on Summerhill Drive, and a right on Hawkweed Way to the end.

Volunteering for the Open Land Conservancy is a great way to make a difference for the lands and communities of this region while having fun and meeting new people! Visit Open Land Conservancy website for further details.

Any questions, contact Ray Clarke at 610-578-0358

Tredyffrin Twp: Public Works Director Scott Cannon and Finance Director Tim Klarich are out and it’s only February!

Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors held a special board meeting on February 10 to terminate the employment of Public Works Director Scott Cannon. Stating several acts of misperformance, including two instances of improper disposal of materials on Township property in addition to procurement procedure violations, the supervisors voted unanimously to dismiss Cannon, without public discussion or comment.

Two weeks to the day after the Public Works Director’s termination, the ominous “discussion of personnel action items” appears on the Board of Supervisors agenda. We learned last night that the township’s Finance Director Tim Klarich is the next one out the door. Without explanation or discussion, the supervisors unanimously voted to accept the resignation of Klarich.

Although the public wasn’t privy to the details of Cannon’s termination, after only a couple of years in the job, I didn’t have a real sense of the pubic work director. On the other hand, Tim Klarich was Tredyffrin Township Finance Director for nearly 4 years. I found his analysis and preparation of the yearly township budget detailed and complete and his monthly financial updates to the board unfailingly thorough. Two township department heads gone in two weeks, there was an uneasiness with more questions than answers.

During the public comment period at the end of the meeting, I asked several questions and voice concern about Klarich’s abrupt departure from the township. When I received no response to my question as to when Klarich gave his resignation notice, I then asked ‘when’ his last day was. Board of Supervisor chair Mike Heaberg referred my questions to the solicitor Vince Donohue, who stated that yesterday (Monday) was his last day. Donohue then stated that because it was a personnel matter, there would be no further information. It was obvious to those in the audience that there was more behind the departure of Cannon and then two weeks later Klarich than was publicly provided. I

Falling under the jurisdiction of ‘legal and personnel matters’, it is highly unlikely that we will ever know the details of Cannon or Klarich recent departures from the township. Less than two months in to the New Year and two department heads are already gone — What’s that saying from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Something is rotten in Denmark”? Makes you wonder if there is more house cleaning ahead from the Board of Supervisors.

From the T/E School Board meeting also held last night came the unanimous vote to approve the teachers to approve the new 3-year contract. Ray Clarke attended the TESD meeting and provides the following personal comments:

  • Dr. Waters actually lead the presentation of the TEEA contract. A surprise since he rarely speaks. He addressed many of the questions raised on CM, but with only occasional reference to the data on the slides so it was hard to follow, even for an experienced ear.
  • One of the ways that the impact is minimized is that the caps on column movement are lower than numbers assumed in the budget (but wouldn’t we have budgeted “status quo”?), and that difference is taken as “budgetary savings”
  • Also helping the overall budget is that (my estimates) there has been a redistribution of ~50 staff from the top level to the bottom levels through retirements and replacements. Dr Waters provided total staff by level which will be handy for those wanting to sanity check the calculated impact. No further “breakage” going forward is assumed in the impact assessment.
  • It sounded as though the one-time bonus was not included in the baseline numbers.
  • Note that the increased teacher contribution to healthcare premiums averages $74,000 per year – $160 per teacher. We should not lose sight of the fact that taxpayers fund a very generous benefits package!
  • Outside the contract, I thought that the Committee Chairs gave richer summaries of their recent meetings than we have been used to. Perhaps that’s wishful thinking, but to be encouraged!

PA State House 157 Democratic Candidate Jed Grobstein withdraws, Marian Moskowitz (D) to challenge incumbent Warren Kampf (R) in November

The Chester County Democratic Nominating Committee held their convention this past Saturday. Prior to the election, Democrat Jed Grobstein withdrew his name from the PA State House 157 race and Democrat candidate Marian Moskowitz was endorsed by acclamation. Grobstein provided the following press release explaining his withdrawal from the race:

Jed Grobstein stepped back in the interests of party unity today to throw his support behind long-time Tredyffrin Township resident and Phoenixville developer Marian Moskowitz in the race for the Pennsylvania State House, 157th district. In a statement posted on his campaign facebook page and website, Jed said,

“I regret to announce that I am withdrawing my name from contention for the State House in the PA 157th. Over the last several weeks it has become clear that the Democratic Party has rallied around the campaign of Marian Moskowitz. With her endorsement at the County Convention she deserves all of our support. I believe that Marian’s achievements as an entrepreneur and as a prime architect in Phoenixville’s redevelopment make her exactly the sort of leader we need in Harrisburg.”

Further, he urged his supporters to focus on November, saying, “I look forward to supporting [Marian] as we all focus on defeating Warren Kampf, Tom Corbett and their ‘governance by crisis’ in November.”

Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello (R) is seeking the vacated seat of Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania’s sixth district. The Chester County Republican Committee endorsed Costello at their nominating convention last week. The Chester County Democratic Committee endorsed candidate Manan Trivedi on Saturday at their convention This marks Trivedi’s third run for Congress and is hopeful that Gerlach’s retirement will provide him the opening he needs. However, it is my understanding that Democrat Mike Parrish, a successful businessman from Malvern, plans to stay in the race, making for a contested May primary.

The Chester County Republican Committee endorsed current State Rep Warren Kampf (R-157) for another term and with the withdrawal of Grobstein, he will face challenger Marian Moskowitz (D) in November.

I was very surprised to see that former T/E School Board member Anne Crowley has quickly stepped back into politics. Not seeking a second term on the school board when her term ended in 2013, Crowley is the endorsed Democratic candidate for the PA State House 167 seat, currently held by Dwayne Milne (R). By a very narrow margin of votes, Milne defeated Crowley for the 167th District seat in 2006. As a personal note, Crowley’s presence is missed on the T/E School Board!

T/E School Board and Teachers sign tentative 3-year contract

The Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association (TEEA) and the T/E School Board have signed a tentative 3- year teachers’ contract for TEEA logoJuly 1, 2014 – June 30, 2017. After the teachers ratification, the School Board will take action at Monday’s school board meeting on the contract.

The contract protects the jobs of the District teachers and includes no furloughs or demotions clause through June 2017. The teachers will receive salary increases based on their step movement in the matrix. Not certain how this equates to percentage yearly increase or budget impact – need some help to understand.

2.013 Salary Progression

Through the end of the contract, the salary of Employees will be determined by placing them on the Salary Schedule as agreed to by Employer and Bargaining Agent as set forth herein.

Effective July 1, 2014, current Employees except those at maximum, will move one (1) vertical step on the Salary Schedule. Each employee is limited to one column movement per year subject to Section 2.025.

Effective July 1, 2015, current Employees except those at maximum will move one (1) vertical step on the Salary Schedule. Each employee is limited to one column movement per year subject to Section 2.025.

Effective July 1, 2016, current Employees except those at maximum will move one (1) vertical step on the Salary Schedule. Each employee is limited to one column movement per year subject to Section 2.025.

For all Employees hired prior to July 1, 1995, no Master’s Equivalency achieved after January 1, 1997, will be recognized as a Master’s Degree on the Salary Schedule.

Unless specifically mentioned in this Section, Section 2.013 does not apply to Health Room Nurses.

I was surprised to see a distance e-learning pilot program included in the contract. If you recall, TEEA previously filed a suit (and won) against the District over their implementation of distance learning. However, this contract includes a Distance E-Learning Pilot Program that will run the length of the contract, expiring on June 30, 2017. The e-learning opportunities will be offered to students by non-bargaining sources at the discretion of the District. The rapid growth of information technologies has influenced the way in which education is delivered and experienced – it is encouraging that the teachers’ contract includes an agreement for this pilot program in the District.

It looks like the teachers should be pleased with this 3-year contract!

It’s Official — Democrat Marian Moskowitz to challenge incumbent Warren Kampf for the PA State House 157!

marian moskowitz

UPDATE: At today’s Chester County Democratic Nominating Convention Jed Grobstein withdrew and Marian Moskowitz was endorsed by acclamation.

A two term incumbent, State Rep Warren Kampf (R-157) has announced his decision to seek a third term for the office. However, it is now official — there is another challenger for the job.

I received a press release today from Democratic candidate Marian Moskowitz officially declaring her candidacy for the PA State House 157 race. (See press release below). A successful local businesswoman, Moskowitz joins previously declared Democrat candidate, teacher and campaign organizer Jed Grobstein.

Moskowitz has an impressive list of accomplishments in the business community, including multiple real estate projects such as the award-winning Franklin Commons, created from an abandoned factory building in Phoenixville. Economic redevelopment and job creation combined with her successful business and real estate background makes Moskowitz a formidable candidate for the PA State House 157 race.

Democratic committeepersons will vote at the Chester County Democratic Nominating Convention on the candidate to support. The purpose of the Nominating Convention is to select the 2014 U.S. Congressional and PA Statewide candidates to be endorsed by the Chester County Democratic Committee. Only one Democratic candidate can receive the party’s endorsement in each race, including the 157.

TREDYFFRIN BUSINESSWOMAN TO CHALLENGE FOR PA. HOUSE SEAT

Marian Moskowitz, a 30-year resident of Tredyffrin, today announced her candidacy for the 157th Legislative District seat currently held by Warren Kampf. A successful businesswoman, community leader and a Democrat who calls herself a “consensus builder,” Moskowitz seeks to bring a fresh voice to Harrisburg. “It is critical that we have people in office who know how to create jobs, understand the importance of education funding and are sensitive to the issues that women face every day,” Moskowitz said.

Moskowitz, 58, has two children who attended Tredyffrin-Easttown schools, three stepchildren and five grandchildren. She has been married to Malvern attorney David Moskowitz for 29 years.

A former paralegal, Moskowitz has been a principal in multiple real estate projects and many small businesses. Her most notable real estate development work has been the adaptive re-use of an abandoned Phoenixville factory into Franklin Commons. Started in 2006, it is now a vibrant educational and mixed use complex and was named “Best Mixed-Use Project of 2011” by the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Moskowitz said her business ventures have created numerous jobs. She has been directly involved in day-to-day management and administration in both for-profit and non-profit sectors with leading roles in budgeting, finance, sales and human resources. She was named “Outstanding Citizen of the Year” by the Phoenixville Chamber of Commerce in 2011 and has been honored by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

A member of the board of directors of the Chester County Economic Development Council for five years, Moskowitz was appointed to the Board of Trustees of West Chester University by Gov. Rendell in 2006 and re-appointed by Gov. Corbett in 2013. She also serves on the board of trustees of Neumann University and the board of directors of the Colonial Theatre and is the co-chair of the fundraising committee for its expansion.

“I have worked very hard over the years to help foster economic development in this community and in Chester County,” Moskowitz said. “I know I could do so much more in the state legislature to encourage growth in this District.”

She scoffed at the increase in school funding in Governor Corbett’s recently released budget. “He has not even given us back what he took from us in the first year of his administration,” she said. “As a trustee of West Chester University, I see firsthand how these cuts have affected our students. We must do everything possible to make our educational institutions our first priority.”

Moskowitz also believes women need better representation in Harrisburg. “Of 253 members of the Pa. House and Senate, only 45 are women. Yet there are so many issues up for vote that are important to women. ” she said. “We need to give women more support in business. I have owned and run numerous companies and know firsthand the problems women encounter in business.”

Moskowitz was born and raised in Philadelphia and, unable to afford college, became a switchboard operator at age 17. She took community college classes when she could pay for them and at age 34, became an adult college student at Neumann University. She earned a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in real estate in 1991, taking classes at night so that she could continue to work and raise her family. Moskowitz believes Franklin Commons is a testament to her belief in the value of education. “I’ve very proud of Franklin Commons,” she said. “It’s the only building I know of where you can begin your educational career at 3 months old and continue to get an Associate’s and, in some instances, a four-year degree.”

The 157th Legislative District includes Tredyffrin and Schuylkill townships, parts of Phoenixville in Chester County and parts of Upper Providence township in Montgomery County.

This is Moskowitz’s first foray into politics. “I look forward to the challenge,” she said. “I have a wide network of colleagues from both parties. I like to think of myself as someone who brings people together and gets things done.”

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T/E School District institutes 7-minute clock-in and clock-out rule for aides and paras & progressive discipline for violation

A bit of background —

On February 4, I received a copy of a memo dated January 31, 2014 from Sue Tiede, Director of TESD Personnel. Tiede’s letter went to ‘All Employees paid on an Hourly Basis’ (aides/paras) with the subject line, ‘Attendance & Punctuality’. Although I was told that ‘all aides and paras’ received the letter, that was not accurate – some of the aides and paras did not receive the letter until this week, 10+ days later. On Wednesday, February 12, aides and paras across the District were called individually into the principal offices of their respective schools to read Tiede’s letter. Before discussing the contents of Tiede’s letter, I have a problem with lack of District cohesive communication.

Memo to T/E aides and paras –

The focus of Tiede’s memo is the District’s establishment of a 7-minute period of clocking-in and clocking-out for hourly employees. These employees are only permitted to clock-in within a 7-minute period before their scheduled start time and within a 7-minute period after your scheduled end time. If scheduled to start work at 7AM, employees can only clock-in between 6:53AM – 7AM. If scheduled to end your workday at 3:30PM, employees can only clock-out between 3:30PM-3:37PM.

Having set the guidelines for the 7-minute clock-in and clock-out period in her memo, Tiede then details the progressive discipline measures for violation. A three level discipline approach, aides and paras receive a verbal warning and written notice for their first offense. An employee receiving a second violation receives a written warning in theur personnel file with threat of suspension or discharge if another violation occurs. If an employees is cited for a third violation of the 7-minute rule, they are subject to suspension without pay and possible termination.

I find the contents and tone of Tiede’s letter demeaning and threatening to the District hourly employees. District aides, paras and substitute teachers currently do not have District provided health coverage. TESD aides, paras and substitute teachers do not have the benefit of organized union protection as do other District employees — the teachers (TEEA) and members of TENIG.

What is driving this letter of intimidation from the District? In my opinion, the answer is Affordable Care Act and a way for the administration to make certain that hourly employees not go over the 30-hour limit that requires employee covered health coverage. By instituting this policy of progressive discipline, the District is not considering the safety of flight risk children and special needs children. Did the District explain this new 7-minute policy to the parents of these children? There will be situations occur where aides and paras are required to choose between remaining with a child or risking disciplinary action by not clocking-out within the 7-minute window. The use of time clocks for our District educators is nothing more than a different category of factory worker.

Was this 7-minute District policy and corresponding disciplinary action vetted by the School Board members? Was their discussion about the ramifications of this policy for special education students and their parents? Is this just another approach by the District to outsource the aides and paras – meaning, intimidate and threatened these employees to the point that they just leave.

Last spring, we saw the backlash from the public over the School Board’s attempt to outsource the aides and paras rather than comply with the Affordable Care Act — is this letter to District’s hourly workers, and its contents, a precursor to round two this spring? As previously mentioned on Community Matters, the School Board has repeatedly delayed any further public discussion of the ACA compliance issues — meeting after meeting. Perhaps part of the back-story to the Board’s continuing resistance to discuss the associated ACA compliance issues is related to Sue Tiede’s letter to the aides and paras.

I encourage you to read the letter below, draw your own conclusions and welcome your comments on Community Matters.. Please share the information with District parents, particularly those parents (and their children) who rely on the services of these targeted District employees. On the offside chance that School Board members are unaware of Sue Tiede’s letter to the aides and paras, I will email them a copy of this post.

 

TESD Suspension

 

 

 

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