Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Radno School District

Important Tredyffrin-Easttown School District Meetings . . . Includes Earned Income Tax (EIT) Discussion

For many residents, the upcoming election on November 2nd has captured your attention but there is interesting news from the T/E School Board that should not be missed. A couple of important School Board meetings — tomorrow’s Finance Committee Meeting at 7:30 PM at the high school and the following Monday, October 18, an EIT Information session.

Topics included on the agenda for the Finance Committee Meeting:

  • Projection Model
  • Capital Sources and Uses
  • 2011-2012 Budget Calendar
  • Earned Income Tax
  • Print Shop and Printing Costs
  • Fund Balance Designation – information about the $6M accrual for untaken sick/vacation entitlement

The Finance Committee will be setting the stage for the following week’s special presentation on the EIT.

I applaud those School Board members responsible for the October 18th public Earned Income Tax presentation. The School Board is bringing in a third-party, a representative from the Pennsylvania Economy League to provide information about the implementation and effect of an EIT.

This is an important meeting because the School Board will make a decision at its October 25th meeting about whether to advise the Townships of its intent to place an EIT on next May’s ballot as a voter referendum. This notice is non-binding, and would allow the Board, the Townships and community time to fully consider the matter.

We understand that the School Board represents us, the residents. If you do not want the School Board members to make decisions in a vacuum, than I think more of the community needs to be engaged. There are hard decisions facing the school district in the 2011-12 school year. How do you want the Board to fund the ever-increasing deficit and the ballooning pension situation . . . increase your property taxes, cut educational programs in the district, impose an EIT? Leaving the situation as a ‘status quo’ is not an option. I am 100% supportive of exploring all options and democratically deciding on the best option. Before anyone jumps in and says no one wants an EIT — and that previously the public was overwhelmingly opposed to it, we need to recognize that our options are becoming increasingly more limited. Would you prefer a large property tax increase? If you take an EIT and property tax increase off the table, . . . what’s left? Educational program and staffing cuts? Is this the answer?

We may be seeing the tip of the iceberg as more and more of the school districts are facing similar economic challenges. Methacton School District is set to go on strike Friday, October 15. Teachers in that Montgomery County school district have been working without a contract for over a year (contract expired June 2009). Although wages is the main issue, other contract differences include medical premiums, the length of the work year, and the payment of postretirement medical benefits. Methacton’s School Board accepted the findings of a nonbinding fact-finder’s report this fall; but the Methacton Education Association, the teachers union, rejected it.

I think that the TESD teachers contract is up in 2012. (Please correct me if I’m wrong). It is going to be interesting to see if the teacher contract negotiations of Lower Merion, Radnor and Great Valley will influence our district. The current TESD teachers contract allows for a 5% yearly increase in wages, correct? With several School Board members terms up in 2011, it is going to be interesting to see who will decide to stay and seek re-election. With teacher contract negotiations and the pension situation, could be a challenging 2012 for School Board members.

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