UCF board deadlocks on vacancy

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2014-15 budget passed with 2.66% tax increase

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

UCFLogoWebPOCOPSON — It could be as long as a month before the Unionville-Chadds Ford Board of Education appoints a replacement for Eileen Bushelow, after the board deadlocked Monday night on a vote for a replacement.

The board now plans to meet July 14 to vote on the matter after Robert Sage and Hsinte (James) Yen both got four votes each in the second and third ballots. Bennett Baird earned two votes in the first ballot and was eliminated from further voting, as Yen and Sage earned three votes each on the first ballot.

All three candidates will remain in consideration.

A fourth candidate, Arnie Klingenberg, withdrew from consideration Monday afternoon.

The board will take another crack at voting in a special meeting July 14, unless 10 or more residents of Region B (Birmingham, Pocopson and Newlin) petition the Chester County Court of Common Pleas to take up the matter. The board had 30 days from Bushelow’s resignation to name a replacement — those 30 days are up June 28, which would allows the courts to intervene and appoint Bushelow’s replacement.

Board president Victor Dupuis suggested that the differences between the candidates were slight and difficult for the eight board members to easily pick between. And picking a new colleague — Dupuis suggested — is always best done by the voters, not the board, even if that is what the current situation requires.

“This (picking a new board member) is not what we’re supposed to do as a board,” he said, suggesting that the preference is to have members selected by voters, leaving members uncomfortable with the process. “It’s not an amenable situation for the board.”

In other district news, the board unanimously passed the $75,986,081 2014-15 school budget — which calls for a balanced tax increase of 2.66% (2.76% in Chester County and (2.26% in Delaware County). Although the final vote was 8-0, there was a bit of sparring between board members Keith Knauss and Michael Rock over whether teacher salaries — and the current contract with the Unionville-Chadds Ford Education Association — were directly to blame for the tax increase.

Knauss maintained that the increase, above the Act 1 limit of 2.1%, had it’s roots in the most recent contract signed with the teachers and it should be considered when new negotiations on a contract begin in January, 2015.

“This budget was set one and a half years ago when we signed a teacher contract calling for a 3% salary increase,” Knauss said.

Rock disagreed and said in order to maintain the high level of achievement, the district must be prepared to pay appropriate wages to attract and keep the best teachers and that taxpayers are getting very good value — in arguably the best school district in the state — for their tax dollars.

“I don’t view the increase as excessive,” said Rock, who is also an economics professor at Bryn Mawr. He said he feels that spending is directly connected to student performance.

While Knauss said he disagreed, Rock noted “the overwhelming evidence is the exact opposite.”

The two agreed to discuss the issue in greater depth, one-on-one.

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  1. UCFSD_TaxPayer says:

    Just be sure that you select another puppet (i.e. yes-man or yes-woman)!

  2. TE Resident says:

    Yes and insults are not arguments. When people resort to insults and personal abuses, they have no logic.

    It is not logical that a business manager in a school district make the same pay as the highest paid governor in the country. I think most tax paying citizens would agree with this.

    Since it is indefensible and defies logic, Keith resorts to personal attacks. It is disturbing the way he Vic and Jeff talk to citizens they are supposed to be working for while praising and supporting administrators who are supposed to be working for
    them when in reality, their actions show the opposite.

  3. Kristin Hoover says:

    I never fail to be amazed at Keith’s hypocritical stance on so many things. It’s important to be a good citizen and present your views that may differ from the elected officials and administration unless you get to be elected! Then that SAME “good citizenship” means that there is something wrong with you that should be used to try to discredit you. Citizens have the “Right-to-Know” which is a cherished part of our democracy and then the award winner for RTK becomes Mr. Right NOT to Know. He believes citizens only have the right to comment on UCFSD if they live in the District, but if you leave the Distict, then that is evidence that you are nothing more than an uncaring toublemaker. Yet he routinely feels the need to stick his nose into TE business on Patty Benson’s blog. He says he wants a strong superintendent when he really delights in having the wimpy guy he can control so he is really the “de facto” superintendent.

    The real issue in this article is how Keith/Jeff/Vic can control the power. Do they stand a better chance of maintaining control with Sage or Yen? To be on Keith’s side or not to be….that is the question.

  4. TE Resident says:

    Below are comments posted on http://www.pattyebenson.org from Keith Knauss addressing a tax paying resident challenging the school boards decision to grant bonuses to TE administrators and a $22,000 raise to the Business Manager making his pay on par with the highest paid governor in the country.

    IMO, Keith’s comments reflect that Directors work for and support Administrators while tax paying citizens who pay for these decisions are taken to the wood shed for having the courage to ask questions about how their tax dollars are being spent. I find it shocking that a School Board Director addresses tax paying citizens in this manner, even if it isn’t a U-CF resident.


    If you want to be taken seriously, you might want to do a bit of homework before whining about administrative raises. It’s so easy to ignore someone who doesn’t put compensation in perspective. Some questions you might want to answer:
    Did the administrators get a salary decrease or a salary increase? What percentage? How does it compare to the teacher contract? How does it compare to other districts? Is Mr. McDonnells compensation commensurate with his peers? Is his contract terms unusual for his position?


  5. Kristin Hoover says:

    TE Resident: You might be interested in the following regarding Superintendent salaries…. The median price of a home in Chester County is $299,500 according to Zillow with prices increasing by 3.6%. Sanville makes more than Tom Corbett and every other Governor in the entire United States.

    Looking at the same data from Zillow for Ventura County in California, where the median home price is $480,900 with prices rising in the last year by 13.1% and the current listing median price of a home is $550,000. Data are available on Superintendent salaries in the County and for the percentage of the budget spent on general administration. Superintendent pay and administration percentage costs were as follows: Briggs Elem. $142,524 with admin costs at 7%; Conejo Valley $197.852 and admin 5%; Fillmore $174,300 and 8%; Hueneme Elem. $198,835 and 5%; Las Virgenes $204,760 and 4%; Mesa Union $135,720 and 7%; Moorepark $175,891 and 8%; Mupu Elem. $109,373 and 7%; Oak Park $178,230 and 7%; Ocean View $162,000 and 8%; Ojai $162,694 and 9%; Oxnard $210,293 and 5%; Oxnard Union $198,609 and 6%; Pleasant Valley $179,960 and 7%; Rio $179,315 and 9%; Santa Clara Elem. $97,732 and 7%; Santa Paula $166,600 with no data available on admin costs; Simi Valley $213,568 and 5%; Somis Union $136,400 and !4%; Ventura Unified $194,877 and 5% and finally Ventura County Office of Ed $201,344 (not applicable for %).

    These are not dinky school districts as Conejo Valley alone has 5 high schools with the one that ranks 184th in the Nation (Newsweek). Even with the high costs of housing, they have no trouble recruiting when the need arises.

    Those are the raw comparisons to Sanville, but my question is what did he do for the money? We know what Sharon Parker brought. What does this guy bring? What does he do to make UCFSD what it is? He’s no Sharon Parker!

  6. TE Resident says:

    Around the time Mr. Sanville was granted a raise on his new contract, Keith, in an effort to diminish my credibility in objecting to the increase, stated that the supt. in TE makes $300,000. After looking into the matter, I discovered that the supt. doesn’t make $300,000 in TE, he makes more.

    Just look what the citizens in U-CF have to look forward to. This is a well oiled machine with self perpetuating increases that won’t stop until someone says enough.

  7. TE Resident says:

    Spending is not related to student performance. U-CF is number one in the state because of hard working dedicated parents in the district who model achievement and demand excellence from their motivated kids who set and achieve goals by adopting high standards they live by.

    I’m not sure an economics professor is going to look at data that ties achievement with anything but teacher employment.

    These tax increases in TE And U-CF have their roots in the high salaries, crushing pensions costs (PSERS) and gold standard healthcare plans enjoyed by all district employees. I too am confused how Keith can blame the teacher contract when he turns around and grants the supt. (who already makes more than the highest paid governor in the country) a raise on his new contract. Did the administrators get raises too? How about bonuses?

  8. Kristin Hoover says:

    Socio-economic conditions are directly related to student performance. This is confirmed in study after study. It’s hard to understand why it is necessary to bash teachers when there is plenty of money for the lackluster superintendent. How can you say there is no money for teachers when there is plenty for the administration?

  9. Dolores E Leeson says:

    I would vote for James Yen .

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