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United We Stand, Divided We Fall

October's WCASD School Board Meeting filled with less fanfare. Teachers and taxpayers continue to call for School Board members to begin attending Negotiation Sessions.

 

WCASD School Board Meeting:  Monday, October 22, 2012

Walking into Stetson for this month’s board meeting, it was evident that there would be much less fanfare than the last one.  The teachers weren’t holding a rally in front of the school, gone were the Fox News vans and, thankfully absent, was Mrs. Adsett’s voyeuristic friend with the video camera.  On a side note, I hope that the District continues hold the meetings at a larger venue in the future since it was so much better than cramming everyone into a small room in the Spellman Building.

I always really enjoy hearing the reports from the Student Representatives from our three high schools.  They told us about what was going on in their schools – homecoming events, community service efforts, interesting projects, awards and accolades. They each had a reoccurring theme of school unity.  The students are trying to end the division between the grade levels and work together as one. Brilliant idea!

Unity.  Interesting.  u·ni·ty: the state of being united or joined as a whole; harmony or agreement between people or groups.  One can only wish that our school board can learn a lesson from the students in our District. There was but one public comment on Agenda items this week.  Matt MacKenzie offered alternatives to closing an elementary school.  The District could: increase class size by 3 students in the elementary schools, ask some students to transfer to different schools, or – my favorite idea – just redistrict EVERY SUMMER.  I’m all for innovative ideas, but really, it’s obvious that he doesn’t have kids in school or understand that these are not feasible options. 

On this note, please save the date: Sean Carpenter, chair of Property & Finance Committee,  encouraged all in attendance to attend the 11/19 Property & Finance Committee meeting (held at Spellman, 6:30 PM) to voice opinions/concerns/suggestions on the “10 to 9” plan. 

Here is a link to the summary that the school district posted.  All agenda items passed unanimously with the exception of the Personnel Recommendations.  For some reason, Mrs. Snook abstained from voting. 

Board President Vince Murphy prefaced public comment with latest Board statement on negotiations. Click here for statement.  


Mr. Murphy pointed to the recently negotiated Tredyffrin/Easttown School District teacher's contract as a frame of reference. He stated that it should sound familiar because it is the same compensation package that is being offered to our teachers in the WCASD. He would like dialogue that yields results. He stated that the School Board has been waiting for a month for a response from the teacher's union and urged them to "sharpen its pencils and prepare a health insurance proposal and a response to our salary proposal that demonstrates a commitment to balancing achievement and affordability."

Deb Fell, WCAEA (Teacher's Union) President responded during the 2 minute public comment she is permitted to have during the school board meeting.  She pointed out that T/E beginning salaries are $51,000; WCASD begins at $46,000. T/E’s top salary is $110,000 while WCASD’s is $99,000. T/E took a salary freeze this year; WCASD took one last year - saving the district $2.6 million. To date, salaries are still frozen. Regarding benefits, T/E is just beginning to pay 9%.  WCASD has been paying 10% for almost 10 years.  The teacher's union has compromised over $19 million dollars during negotiations and has collaborated to save the district more than $10 million in the past 2 years.

Bob Marks, teacher and Teacher Union Representative, stated that the WCAEA has compromised while the School District hasn’t moved at all from their original offer.  Minnie Porter, President of the Support Staff Union, tried to paint of picture of the climate of the support staff.  She said that they would just like to make a living wage and she explained that some employees are on welfare and some work multiple jobs.  They need the benefits they earn, yet their services are currently being threatened with outsourcing.

I requested, once again, for the members of the school board negotiation team to begin attending negotiation sessions.  I called for them to step up to do what is right for our school district and its children.  The members of the School Board's Negotiations Team - Vince Murphy, Sean Carpenter and Karen Miller have not attended a single negotiations session; instead choosing to spend taxpayer money on lawyers and a PR firm to write statements, press releases and updates. In reference to T/E School District, their members were not participating in negotiations sessions with their teacher's union for a long time.  They settled their contract during the very first meeting that they attended. See Patch Article.

Former Board President Rick Swalm paid tribute to Marc Bertrando, our Assistant Superintendent, since he will soon be leaving our District to be Superintendent of the Garnet Valley School District.  Jack Hurd, our Human Resources Director is also leaving the District for a position closer to his home.  Hopefully, this is not the beginning of a mass exodus of administrators being driven away from a school district led by an unreasonable school board with a political agenda that does not take into consideration what is best for the children and education in West Chester.  Members of our current Board may have made political promises to their party in order to get elected, but now that they are school board directors they need to put their personal philosophies aside and serve in a nonpartisan manner.

The question remains if a portion of the $6.5 million the school board expects the teachers to "find" in order to balance the budget includes the 5% the district would like the Union to pay as a service fee for the cost of taking out the dues from their check even though, in reality, the actual cost of performing this service to the District is negligible.   The sticking point in negotiations may be that 5% service fee for payroll deductions which is not done by one other district in the state.  Is this merely a tactic to union bust?  The teachers seem to think so.  The actions of the Board seem to support this view.  Let’s hope that the School Board will step up to their responsibility and do what is best for the entire school district – the taxpayers, the teachers and especially the students. Please consider contacting the School Board to urge them to attend the next Negotiations session on November 29th.  You can send an email to the School Board Secretary Pauline Bachtle at pbachtle@wcasd.net ; she will see that the School Board Directors promptly receive it. 

The Teacher's Union made a video with some meeting highlights that is worth watching:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQdtk00RT8s

 

To read more:

Teacher Contract Still Not Settled - West Chester Patch (10/23/12)

West Chester school officials eye T-E settlement - Daily Local News  (10/23/12)

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.

Steve Maher October 31, 2012 at 12:22 AM
This is a direct result of Tom Corbett's budget that cut funding for education that has impacted the West Chester Area School district. Voters and parents need to be reminded that Dan Truitt voted for this measure. As a result, the WCASD has received less money from the state and we, the tax payers, must foot the bill. We have laid off 21 teachers, cut classroom size, and property tax increases. Remember it was Dan Truitt that threw the WCASD under the bus!
Matt McKenzie October 31, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Dana, It's very difficult explaining three alternatives to closing an elementary school in just two minutes--especially when each is worth as much as $32 million. Please bare with me. If you'd like to learn more about them and have any questions you have answered, I'd be happy to meet with you for half an hour.
edufan October 31, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Mr. McKenzie, I attended the school boad meeting, and while I applaud you efforts, I think you need to understand that closing an elementary school is highly emotional. So is redistricting. We redistricted 9 years ago, and there is STILL emotional stife from that. Moving children from one school to another is not like moving a product from one location to another. It is difficult and whatever moves occur need to stay put in order for the children to adjust to their new surroundings. I am curious. Do you have children? If so, do they go to school? How would you feel if they were moved to different schools every year or every two years? The emotional upheaval would surely impact their learning. As for increasing class sizes, that has already occurred, and to increase by even 3 more students may save some money but it will not increase learning; particularly in the early primary grades. I hope that you consider these factors in future recommendations.
Star Thrower November 01, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Moving children to a new school is like a breath of fresh air if you consider cyber home-schooling - never a change in surroundings, no more fuel bills - no more getting up early to wait with your child in the freezing cold for the bus to get there - no more classroom distractions from bullies or classroom clowns - No more putting your child into infestation breeding centers for pandemics - no more unnecessary preventive vaccinations, etc - no more government sponsored propagandist educational material - no more dealing with unions whose predominant objectives are growth and power ... well you all get the picture .
Matt McKenzie November 01, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Edufan, Thanks for your interest. You may attend the meeting as well. No child will ever need to change schools multiple times and the program will be successful with just a handful of parents willing to volunteer for the good of the community. They should of course be given the opportunity to help. Anyone collegial and willing to learn about this can reach me at matthewmckenzie@ verizon.net
Beth Alois November 01, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Tom Killion, my opponent in the race for State Representative in the 168th (Westtown & Thornbury Delco) has also been a champion of the Corbett funding cuts to our schools.
Wayne Zimmerman November 02, 2012 at 02:12 PM
To: The Anonymous Writer of the Summary of the Recent WCASD Mtg. Exploring the West Chester VOTE website, I saw the word "non-partisan" in the first line of the description of this organization. What total BS!! How can you say, and I quote from your summary, "thankfully absent, was Mrs. Adsett’s voyeuristic friend with the video camera." is a non-partisan comment. The same can be said by another comment you made: "For some reason, Mrs. Snook abstained from voting." Obviously you do not like Mrs. Adsett and Mrs. Snook! Well, I don't like you! You don't have the gonads to identify yourself, but hide in the shadows of being unidentified. Shame on you. Frankly, your are so sanctimonious and full of crap you should not represent an organization that purports to be non-partisan. BTW, I'm not ashamed to identify myself. Wayne C. Zimmerman, Sr.
Robin Kaliner November 02, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Mr. Zimmerman, if you go to the actual blog rather than this copy, the author's name is there for all to see. She's not trying to be anonymous, it's just the way the blog gets posted in Patch. As far as being non-partisan, WCVote ran a slate of candidates in 2011 that included self-identified Rs, Ds, and an Independent. Furthermore, those of us who run WCV are also comprised of different party affiliations But, we feel strongly that political affiliations should not be the basis for decisions impacting the education of children. As for Mrs. Adsett and Mrs. Snook...Mrs. Adsett has not been behaving as one would expect from a school board director for some time now. She takes every opportunity she can to make things political, has invited Simon Campbell (a board member from Pennsbury) & his extremely divisive vitriol into the business of our district, has made youtube videos with Mr. Campbell that disparage her fellow board members and residents, & has broken school board policy by conducting a TV interview as a representative of the Board. This is hardly the leadership our district needs right now. As for Mrs. Snook, although she sits on the Education & Pupil Svcs committees, the eduction & service to our kids is hardly her objective.She takes every opportunity to praise parochial schools & speaks out for legislation that will hurt public schools. Her legislative reports are completely slanted & lacking. She clearly wants to see our schools reduced to bare bones
Robin Kaliner November 02, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Matt, if you have a financial analysis and write-up of this program I'd be interested in looking at it. However, I think there are some things you may not have considered, or else don't think are important. WCASD already has some of the largest class size maximums in Chester County. You said this plan would alleviate the need to close a school or cut jobs, however wouldn't the increase of class size and movement of students to open positions do just that? I don't think you have a child in school yet, because if you did I think you would realize that parents are not going to be standing in line to move their kids to a different school. The first thing that happens when teacher letters go out every summer is that kids call all their friends to find out if they are in class together. The social aspect of school is a very important and educational one, and no child is going to want to leave his/her friends--that would be devastating. What happens to your plan if enough parents don't volunteer? Have you taken into account the transportation cost impact if you have one kid here and one there going to different schools? As far as yearly redistricting, the fact that we have not redistricted for about 10 years speaks to the fact that it is a very time consuming and controversial topic--I just don't see the idea of doing this on a yearly basis as feasible. But again, I would be interested in looking at what you have to understand the details of your proposal.
Matt McKenzie November 02, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Robin, All of your questions can be answered (hopefully to your satisfaction). Your concerns were considered and they are important. Email me when you get a chance. I look forward to sharing this program with you.
Dana Seaman November 02, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Mr. Zimmerman, You are not being very nice. I replied to your comment last month identifying who I was and where you could find information in the future. Being that I am the author of this blog, I am free to express my own opinions and observations. Obviously, we must view things differently, but sometimes people only see what they want to see and ignore facts. I make sure that everything I write about if based on facts and I offer sources of information. Feel free to check the articles, transcripts and videos about the meeting. Thanks again for reading my blog!
Star Thrower November 03, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Kaliner .. Mrs Adsett may not have been behaving as "one gang member" or one "gang symbiont" such as yourself, Seaman, and the WC Vote "Children of the Corn" might expect .. Mrs Adsett however has been acting as a breath of fresh air, never before seen in her true duty as taxpayer advocate, and school board director, unlike past directors who had long since "sold their souls" to union goals of creating debt slaves of the children of America - just my opinion, of course :)
Star Thrower November 07, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Let's put the following where it belongs ... on a WC Vote page. On Nov 6, 2012, at 11:32 PM, Star Thawer wrote: "I have to agree with Star Thrower. We need to be vigilant in making sure we do not have sexual predators around our children. As I have read, Ms. Adsett contacted a 17-year-old boy from a WCASD high school in '11. According to sources (fellow seniors), he was in the class of 2011. Why did she contact him instead of his parents? Star and I have to assume the worst. Then, with the current case from Rustin, we have to be careful with the parents that WC hires as coaches. Even though he wasn't a teacher, Star and I would feel happier if the Board did not hire or approve predators, and the board should not encourage making "contact" with young boys. Ask Ms. Adsett. Thank you. Star Brothers! Go Mitt! Mitt will win PA!" http://westchester.patch.com/articles/teacher-contract-negotiations-continue
Star Thrower November 07, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Awwwww ... are we a little upset that Bret lost??  A coach employed by a district school is still a teacher by every measure - in addition the point of closing schools (which is being totally ignored by teachers and their paid sycophants of WC Vote) is that the student sexual abuse incidents are reduced by 100% .. another point which has gone completely without comment by the "abuse enabling" majority of WC Vote members.   Funny how WC Vote love to complain about names while creating their own version to get the witch trials under way, isn't it? - what a pathetic group of sub-human thieves we have pretending to care about children. BTW - I voted for Obama ... and Truitt ... although Truitt will need to get the fracking stopped, and close some schools before his next election, or he's history also.
Robin Kaliner November 07, 2012 at 10:57 PM
You think we wrote this? I have never suggested that Heidi Adsett is a sexual predator, nor would I ever as I don't believe that to be true. I think it was inappropriate for Heidi to contact that student and reprimand him for expressing his personal views at a board meeting, but there is nothing to suggest her actions were of an inappropriate sexual nature. You're the one who is preoccupied with sexual deviants--it seems to be all you can talk about, again suggesting that you have some serious problems. If you have any children and choose to home or cyber school them, good for you, you have the option to do so. I don't want my children home schooled. I happen to think that the social aspects of school are valuable and that having access to a teacher in person during lessons can not be replaced. To suggest that the reason for closing 1 school in WCASD or all brick and mortar schools across the state is due to the incidence of sexual abuse is delusional--I can assure you that it is not mentioned in any of the documented analysis regarding closure of a WC school. Should we close all the churches and summer camps and recreational sports as well? The reason some want to move away from brick and mortar traditional public schools is purely a financial one--some have realized privatizing education is a lucrative emerging market. But you keep talking, as it allows people to see your true character.
Star Thrower November 08, 2012 at 01:36 PM
The twisted sisters of WC Vote thoroughly enjoy twisting truth into lies - what I do is take those lies and twist them back into the truth. I have posted the truth along with many reasons brick & mortar schools should start being closed down - with no relevant comments from your groupies except to blame government talking heads for not raising everyone's taxes - sexual abuse by teachers is only one of the reasons, and has already been shown to have doubled in the last 5 years, with no definitive programs to combat the problem, except for the unionist groupies to pull the covers back over their heads - you ignore the other reasons and it's you who is focusing on the sexual abuse not me - what I am doing is posting what gets your attention and what best describes the twisted sisters. The reason some want to move away from brick and mortar traditional public schools is not purely a financial one, I have already shown where brick & mortars are breeding grounds for pandemics, they create climates for needless vaccinations, they waste what little oil we have left on the planet, polluting our atmosphere, creating miles long traffic jams behind school buses ... just to name a few, twisted sister. Funny hearing the Two-Faced Seaman discuss Mrs. Adsett’s voyeuristic friend with the video camera, then introduce her own voyeuristic friend with a video camera .. lol
Star Thrower November 08, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Michigan Voters Reject Collective Bargaining: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/michigan-proposal-2-results-2012_n_2080767.html
Star Thrower December 04, 2012 at 03:59 PM
I am keeping these all in the same place, so I know where to find them when the twisted sisters decide to post more propaganda on WC Patch On Dec 3, 2012, at 8:51 PM, star_enthraller wrote: "Star thrower is correct. We have to worry about adults in our district and their relations with students. Look at Heidi; she contacted a senior boy in 2010-11 directly. What was the content? Ask her about it. I am certain she will talk about it. Jog her memory and ask about Michael. Heidi for president! Please! The union is a bunch of party-poopers. After Murphy said, the union needed to be willing to accept an offer like T.E. just accepted. The union president said that they would take T.E.'s contract and pay scale. Wait...Murphy didn't mean that? Oh, he didn't know what he was talking about. Oh, he is ill-informed. Murphy should bring his mouth to negotiations. The school district and union would have settled weeks ago if the T.E. offer was legit. Shouldn't Murphy know these things? Isn't he unemployed--he has plenty of time? Star thrower will be happy with that T.E. offer because he has been pushing for equality for same sex partners, and T.E.'s contract addresses that."

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