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Two Monologues Do Not Make a Dialogue

One WCASD School Board Director brings a friend to the meeting to videotape the public comments for personal YouTube videos. What's that have to do with District business and education?

WCASD School Board Meeting, Monday, September 24, 2012

I find it difficult to encapsulate last week’s School Board meeting.  There are so many layers of dismay and disbelief about the chain of events.  Walking into the building I was greeted by a few of my teacher friends who had just finished their rally and was given a hug by one of the policemen that I knew before I walked in the door.  I made my way through the hallways with my son’s former teacher who was asking me about his transition to high school.  The room was abuzz with activity. Administrators preparing for the meeting, taxpayers signing up for public comment, Fox news reporters, and another man setting up a video camera behind our school board directors so that he can record those brave enough to speak at the meeting.

This man was brought to our school district by one of our school board directors, the “WCASB VP” to be exact.  Were they creating a log of taxpayer issues and concerns so that they could find ways to understand them?  No, they were collecting footage to create political YouTube videos of themselves about “forced unionism” and their desire to bust teacher unions in Pennsylvania.

Here are the links to the two videos they created using two taxpayers in our district. 

Heidi Adsett speaks out against compulsory Unionism – YouTube Video

West Chester Area School Board Director, Heidi Adsett – YouTube Video

How can this be allowed? You may ask.  Surely there must be a policy against it.  Apparently not.  Mr. Murphy, the WCASB President, opened the meeting with a statement regarding Mrs. Adsett’s “Letter to the Editor” that was published in the Daily Local News.  He basically said that although she was using her title as “WCASB VP” her opinions expressed were hers alone and that she does not speak for the Board.

9/12/12 DLN:  Pennsylvania should institute ban on teacher strikes

But then again, Mr. Murphy offered his own opinion in the DLN earlier in the day…

9/24/13 DLN: Some diversion tactics?

Would  this be considered to be the “official” opinion of the Board?  I don’t think so. Seems more of an individual opinion followed by stating the fact that he is the school board president.  It’s all so confusing.

The School District sent out a meeting summary that pretty much covers all the official business.  Click here if you haven’t already seen it.

The only commentary to offer about the school business part of the meeting was for the approval of a salary adjustment for administrative staff and non-union employees to equate to the 1.7% Act 1 Index.  Mrs. Snook went into a lengthy diatribe about the military looking at salary cuts and how her son was in the military and would not receive the same relocation reimbursement as in the past.  Mrs. Adsett asked Dr. Moore, our business manager, to explain the budget deficit for the next couple of years. (0 next year, $11.6 million deficit in 14/15 (due to PSERS balloon payment), $5.3 million deficit in 15/16 (PSERS again), and a surplus of $1.9 million in 16/17).  Ed Coyle pointed out that the salary adjustment was a contractual obligation to “bring people up to market”.  Snook and Adsett voted against both agenda items, but they passed 7-2.

To begin the Committee Reports, Mrs. Snook tells us that the General Assembly only reconvened on September 24, so she does not have much to report at this time.  Charter/cyber reform legislation is on the table and Mrs. Tiernan will address that topic later in the meeting (referencing the Board’s letter to legislators).  

So with really nothing to report, Mrs. Snook continues, telling those in attendance we can expect many changes at the end of 2012, including paying more taxes, some of us up to  $4000 more.  While most in attendance realized Mrs. Snook was most likely referring to the "fiscal cliff" we face as Bush tax credits expire and sequestration looms, one notices many puzzled faces and hears whispers of “where did she get the $4000?” and  “is that true?”  As a service to you, we tried our best to come up with a source for the amount cited by Mrs. Snook.

Interestingly, a blog in the Wall Street Journal, a paper Mrs. Snook has been known to cite in the past, contains a calculator for readers to see just how much more we can expect to pay, pointing out the fact that, “Workers only are charged payroll taxes on the first $110,100 of income, so whether your income is $110,101 or $110 million the most your 2013 increase can be is $2,202.”

The $4000 continues to evade us in articles that list potential tax increases by state: http://taxfoundation.org/article/how-states-would-be-affected-extension-bush-tax-cuts-and-other-provisions

With neither resource nor salary example referenced, the “$4000” potential tax increase remains, in our minds, a big scary number thrown out to a large and emotional crowd.  

In mid-October, Mrs. Snook will be attending the PA School Boards Association Leadership Conference on behalf of WCASD.

Over the summer, Mrs. Tiernan spearheaded the writing of a letter to send to legislators to call for reforms and mandates to charter schools.  See letter here.  She explained the various issues and what needed to change and most board members seemed to be in agreement. Thank you to Sue Tiernan for not giving up when the other board members originally tried to blow you off!

And then, our favorite part, the public comments…

I sat a little to the left of a fringe group of Republican Committee People.  They were clad in red clothing (the teachers were as well although for very different reasons).  They were eagerly awaiting their time at the microphone to, as I overheard, “give it to them”.  Matt McKenzie was the first to go.  Waste begets more waste, he proclaimed.  He called for more reductions in expenses while improving services in the district.  A few others spoke in support of Mrs. Adsett as well as calling for the entire board to take a stand against unions.  However, not all those that spoke up were in favor of how Mrs. Adsett was conducting herself.  If you checked out the YouTube video, Donna Ross called for Mrs. Adsett’s resignation from the Board – much to the horror of the folks to my right.

A few teachers, who are also West Chester residents, spoke to ask for the members of the school board negotiations team to begin actually attending the sessions.  I also commented about it.  I just think it’s ridiculous that not only do we have to pay the attorney to go to the meeting, but then we have to pay him to debrief the school board negotiations team.  They could save the district a lot of money if they just went to listen for themselves. See my comment here.

A few parents spoke about the possible closing of an elementary school.  They didn’t want to see the loss of any neighborhood schools and the flexibility that comes with it.  Sean Carpenter encouraged them to attend the next P&F Meeting.

Dr. Rick Swalm paid a lovely tribute to our dear Mr. Jim Smith.  Thank you, Rick, for sharing this with us.  Jim Smith was part of our West Chester VOTE team.  When we were looking for someone with experience and knowledge to run for school board, he stepped up to the plate.  We will forever be changed for the better for knowing him.

The aftermath:

9/24/12:           West Chester Teachers Rally For New Contract – Fox News

West Chester Teachers Rally for a New Contract - Patch

9/25/12:           West Chester Area teachers rally for a contract Hundreds gather in West Goshen - DLN 

9/27/12:            Heidi Adsett’s counterpart – Simon Campbell– sends an email to all teachers in our school district.  He had previously submitted a RTK (Right to Know) Request to the District to receive all teacher’s school email addresses.

He also submitted a RTK request at the beginning of the school year to get a copy of all PTO budgets.  They were trying to link the PTOs to funding West Chester VOTE.  Our Administrators spent a day gathering this information instead of tending to district business. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Wayne Zimmerman October 03, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Any "blog" that does not identify the "blogger" is worth nothing. If you have an opinion, have the guts to say who you are. Wayne C. Zimmerman, Sr.
Dana Seaman October 03, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Wayne, We at West Chester VOTE have no issue saying who we are. If you visit our website and click on "blog" you can see who wrote the blog. I happened to write it this week. Thanks for taking the time to read it!
Dana Seaman October 03, 2012 at 05:43 PM
www.westchestervote.org if you need it
SpeakYourMind October 05, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I really liked your blog, thank you.
TheSilentMasses October 14, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Anyone who hasn't been to a school board meeting really owes it to themselves to check it out. I went to this last one (it was my first) and was amazed by what I saw. When you think about the kinds of people that run large, multi million dollar entitities like the WCASD, you think of people who give off an air of competence and professionalism. I saw none of that. The board is a collection of characters straight out of a "B" movie. I can tell you that based on what I saw you can forget a contract being negotiated anytime soon. I hear through the rumor mill that one of the most respected administrators in the district is leaving.....is the ship sinking??
Star Thrower October 14, 2012 at 07:38 PM
The dissension we see today began the day teachers formed a union against the taxpayer .. totally destroying the trust that existed for close to a hundred years between true teachers and the public who depended on them for truth through education - eventually, year after hungry year, union greed and borrowing against the future of the children in their charge .. we have what we see today in PA, union hatred and contempt for school boards elected by the taxpayers, and who have the taxpayers best interest as their primary objective .. along with unpayable debt that teacher ignorance, and their legislator buddies continued corruption .. allow to go unchecked. You have only to look at the following salary to see the fraud perpetrated on the taxpayer - $90 K for working 57% of a 35 hour week - which is what? 21 hours a week for 9 months? County - Chester District - WCASD School - West Chester Bayard Rustin HS Name - ******* ******  School Year - 2011-11 Job Assignment - **************** Total Salary (all jobs) - $90,605 FT/PT & % time for this job - F / 57% Years of Service - 36 Years in District - 36 Degree - Bachelors Degree Category - Coordinate Services complete details available from DataUniverse on the web.
Cathy Binder October 14, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I heard that too this weekend and know who it is from one of children's teachers I spoke with. This is terrible. This is not the first administrator to go and how many others may be interviewing other places? As I sat at the meeting and heard Mr. Murphy asking people not to clap I was amazed - why - we can't support Ideas we like or agree with? There was no cursing or swearing - just clapping. And when Dr. Scanlon read the report of the excellence achieved by our schools - what did we hear from this group - crickets!!! I pray more parents and community members who understand their very property values and the value of our community is tied to quality schools. The idea that our teachers, support staff and all who work here are somehow a problem in this community is troubling. Our taxes are low, sacrifices have been made. Yet, the quality they produce is very high. What gives and what is the REAL agenda. And who will replace these good leaders? The reputation of this place will get out - just like happened in Phoenixville - nobody wanted to work there because of the school board. Same thing happened in OJR. At some point we will cause ourselves damage beyond repair.
Cathy Binder October 14, 2012 at 07:45 PM
And again Star - that is not the teachers full job - she has more than one assignment. So quit posting things that are not true. I checked out the matrix on the teacher's contract posted online and then asked some people who worked in the district about how it works. IF you have more than one assignment because you have multiple certifications only one will show up on that website. Others have checked themselves on it. The teachers told me they are assigned by .2 to teaching assignments - depending on if the courses they teach are core courses or electives - so an elective may not be a full .2. Full time is considered 1.0. So you may be assigned .5 to teacher computer science and .5 teach physics for example. That is considered 1.0 full time, but it would show up on this website as .5 computer science with the full time salary. Yes, I know I am a liar and must show proof. How about you call Dr. Scanlon or Mr. Hurd at Human Resources to confirm. You can glean this as well from the contract though, or from the job postings that are online. Lots of ways to figure it out.
Cathy Binder October 14, 2012 at 11:06 PM
You hate facts for sure. Only someone looking to start trouble would not accept the actual matrix that is posted, and would not take the time to read the actual contract. Go ahead and believe what you want. You prove over and over again - facts are immaterial to you. I am not asking you to believe my opinion - you can check this out for yourself. If you care to take the time - which clearly you don't as it does not suit your cause.
TheSilentMasses October 14, 2012 at 11:38 PM
What would you say is a fair salary for someone with with a college education who has spent over 30 years working as a teacher? Obviously you think $90K is too much, so what should they be paid?
TheSilentMasses October 14, 2012 at 11:48 PM
I would think the taxpayers interest is best served by producing citizens with high levels of education, after all those educated citizens will determine the future course of this nation...
TheSilentMasses October 14, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Oh, and what do you think a fair salary is for someone with an M.Ed and 30 years on the job. Just give a number... How about starting salary, where should that be?
Star Thrower October 14, 2012 at 11:58 PM
silentmasses - I would say that in public service, after 15 years service, teacher salaries should begin to decrease for the next 5 years .. with compulsory retirement after 20 years - as brilliant as you believe teachers to be, they should have no trouble whatsoever assimilating into the private sector for some great years of six figure salaries.
TheSilentMasses October 15, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Interesting. I know that's how the military handles it (except for the salary reduction) for their enlisted personnel. I think it would be great if you could start offering solutions to all these problems in education that your keen insight has ferreted out. Share your wisdom with us and describe your "Star Thrower Academy". Let's see...You would pay your teachers a starting salary of $15,000 a year (private tuition of course) with a final salary of $35,000 for 20 years of service. Sure, you won't attract any good teachers, but when you believe there' s no such thing as a good teacher that isn't really a problem. Your students will do well because you will only accept the best and brightest. Students from broken homes, abusive situations, students with learning disabilities will all be eliminated from school so your standardized test scores remain high. But wait! Who will teach those "sub standard" students? Oh, that's right...WHO CARES! Public school has been eliminated in "Star Thrower" world so those kids will just become panhandlers or criminals. Yup, sounds great!
Star Thrower October 15, 2012 at 12:34 AM
You'll never see a post where I have said there are no good teachers .. just that there are not good teachers any more in a union. Special-Ed kids do much better in cyber - BTW, the world is a competitive place in case you have forgotten, for all creatures great and small .. a lot don't make it - when times get tough the populations of all creatures dwindle, some to the point of extinction - look it up, that's a fact ... I didn't make the rules.
RoxyD October 15, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Star Thrower is a parasite that feeds off of hate and anger. She doesn't even live in West Chester. You will waste your time trying to reason with her. She will drag you down to her level and beat you with experience.
Cathy Binder October 16, 2012 at 01:08 AM
And of course the issue of age discrimination would not be an issue as those rules would somehow not apply? Hardly. Why not just make this the rule in every industry? Decreasing salary based on experience and age. Wow, now there is a great idea.
Cathy Binder October 16, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Where is your evidence that special ed kids do better in cyber school? What do you even know about special ed kids? What happens when a union teacher leaves for a private school - miracle - transformation into "good teacher"? What makes a "good teacher" ? So those with learning disabilities are lesser individuals? Really? I am glad you are so perfect that you can afford to dismiss such a large portion of the population. Do you even know what is categorized as a learning disability?
Cathy Binder October 16, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Correct you are. But I suppose sometimes what is said is so offensive and outrageous it is hard to let it go without a reply.
Star Thrower October 16, 2012 at 03:00 PM
OK Binder, let's talk about what's offensive and outrageous .. then let's talk about truth. RoxyD, as usual was the first to begin the personal name-calling on this thread, but completely ignores who is the true parasite .. . According to an article this year in Slate Magazine online, one in 10 students said they had been the victim of peeping in the locker room, and sexual touching or grabbing from a teacher or other school employee, and two-thirds of those reported the incident involved physical contact. If these numbers are representative of the student population nationwide, 4.5 million students currently in grades K-12 have suffered some form of sexual abuse by an educator, and more than 3 million have experienced sexual touching or assault. So tell us RoxyD, and Binder ... how many pedophile parasites would you say are teachers? I figure at least a few hundred thousand, wouldn't you? - that would make teaching the largest occupation for pedophiles in the country .. link below: In case you don't believe this link I have 4 more teacher arrests from Berks County (3 in the same week) just a few weeks ago, which might interest you. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2012/02/is_sexual_abuse_in_schools_very_common_.html
Star Thrower October 16, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I actually don't expect you to respond to this kind of truth, but it is a very good reason to close the brick and mortar schools permanently, also the main problem with Special-Ed students, is being around kids who taunt and bully ... I could post many parent comments from cyber websites whose kids have completely changed their lives for the better, simply by switching to cyber.

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