Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And So It Begins...

Last night was the first regular school board meeting with our newly elected WCASD school board. Former school board members, Jim Smith and Jim Davison kicked off the meeting by asking the current board about possible violations of the Sunshine Law. They questioned the addition of an agenda item for approval of lead negotiator for negotiations with the West Chester Area Education Association. The Board President, Vince Murphy didn’t seem to understand the question and looked to Dr. Scanlon to answer. Mr. Murphy then was indignant to Mr. Davison, telling him to go “offline” with his question and then completely cut him off. Mr. Davison responded that he would take the issue to the Court of Common Pleas. Later in the meeting, Sean Carpenter made a motion to take the item off the agenda. I guess he realized that Mr. Smith and Mr. Davison have enough experience and knowledge to know the proper policies and procedures for operating a school board. All members except for Maureen Snook agreed. The vote was 8-1 to remove the agenda item. Stay tuned...
See article in the West Chester Patch for more info: School Board Considers Hiring a Negotiator
During the resident comments at the end, I asked why the Board was ready to hire a negotiator without even trying to work out a contract with the teachers themselves. Some of the members had campaigned for the position with the platform that they had experience with negotiations and contracts. Why are they not even willing to try to work out a deal? I explained that as a parent and a taxpayer in the District, I did not agree with paying a negotiator $200 per hour when it may not even be necessary. They would essentially be cutting programs and activities for our kids to pay for an attorney because they do not want to do the job they volunteered to do. If it’s too much for them to handle, I say step down and let someone else who is willing to do the work have the position.
Another important issue discussed (or actually not really discussed) was the vote to apply to reserve Act 1 exceptions. This would have been a type of insurance policy that the board can use if it were absolutely necessary to raise taxes above the Act 1 limit of 1.7% in order to balance the budget. A few parents spoke to ask that the Board consider taking the exceptions to keep options open. Alas, the vote was 9-0 in favor of not taking them.
See article about Great Valley in the Daily Local: Great Valley officials vote to keep tax options open
The Board also announced the new Committee Chairs along with the addition of a newly formed “Communication and Outreach” committee headed by Linda Raileanu. She informed us that we would be seeing her a lot at PTOC meetings and PTO meetings. Adding,“I know that will make a lot of people happy. ” Um, when did the school board start getting involved in the daily activities of the schools? I thought they were to oversee administration not the PTO. I guess Big Brother – or Big Sister for that matter – will be watching to make sure the parents don’t get out of line. I find it funny that they refuse to answer questions from the parents but are willing to insert themselves into our meetings. No offense, but I think she should wait (but not hold her breath) to actually be invited to the Parent/Teacher meetings instead of crashing the party. But then again, maybe it will give the PTOC members an opportunity to ask her why she snubbed their debate...


  1. Do the individual PTOs/PTOC have the authority to not allow board members to attend unless explicitly invited for a stated purpose? Do the parents not have the right to discussions without the board's oversight?

  2. During her legislative report, Maureen Snook mentioned that private schools save the Commonwealth (Pennsylvania) about $4 billion each year. When asked about this comment later, she gave no response. I would very much like to know where this statistic came from and why she mentioned it during her report.

  3. @Robin: The individual PTOs and the collective PTOC are separate entities and should not be overseen by the school board. The PTO meetings are public, but you may need to be a member to attend unless you are invited. I would guess it all depends on the by-laws. The school district should have copies of all the PTO by-laws from all 16 schools since the School Board requested them in the fall. This was when certain members were outraged by the write-in campaign and were on a witch-hunt to find where it was initiated. That's when they decided accuse the write-in candidates of "using PTO resources and meetings for campaign purposes". This claim was never substantiated with any type of proof.
    @Max: I would send Mrs. Snook an email if I were you- msnook@wcasd.net . She works at a private school and has chosen to send her children to private schools. Additionally, Mrs. Snook said at the LWV debate that she is pro-vouchers. She is also very creative with statistics. That accounts for motivation, but not sure of the point. Let us know if you get a response!

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