Saturday, June 4, 2011
August 27th, 2010 7:38 pm CT
I’m going to step out of my usual third-person writing voice for a moment. As a parent I received a letter last week from the Kansas State Board of Education, informing me that my children’s school district had been placed on “improvement” status for failing to meet “adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind law.
I thought it ironic that our schools were judged inadequate by people who haven’t set foot in them, so I wrote a letter to my local newspaper. Predictably, my letter elicited a deluge of comments in the paper’s online forum. Many remarks came from armchair educators and anti-teacher, anti-public school evangelists quick to discredit anything I had to say under the rationale of “he’s a teacher.” What could a teacher possibly know about education?
Countless arguments used to denigrate public school teachers begin with the phrase “in what other profession….” and conclude with practically anything the anti-teacher pundits find offensive about public education. Due process and collective bargaining are favorite targets, as are the erroneous but tightly held beliefs that teachers are under-worked, over-paid (earning million-dollar pensions), and not accountable for anything.
In what other profession, indeed.
In what other profession are the licensed professionals considered the LEAST knowledgeable about the job? You seldom if ever hear “that guy couldn’t possibly know a thing about law enforcement – he’s a police officer”, or “she can’t be trusted talking about fire safety – she’s a firefighter.”
In what other profession is experience viewed as a liability rather than an asset? You won’t find a contractor advertising “choose me – I’ve never done this before”, and your doctor won’t recommend a surgeon on the basis of her “having very little experience with the procedure”.
In what other profession is the desire for competitive salary viewed as proof of callous indifference towards the job? You won’t hear many say “that lawyer charges a lot of money, she obviously doesn’t care about her clients”, or “that coach earns millions – clearly he doesn’t care about the team.”
But look around. You’ll find droves of armchair educators who summarily dismiss any statement about education when it comes from a teacher. Likewise, it’s easy to find politicians, pundits, and profiteers who refer to our veteran teachers as ineffective, overpriced “dead wood”. Only the rookies could possibly be any good, or worth the food-stamp-eligible starting salaries we pay them.
And if teachers dare ask for a raise, this is taken by many as clear evidence that teachers don’t give a porcupine’s posterior about kids. In fact, some say if teachers really cared about their students they would insist on earning LESS money.
If that entire attitude weren’t bad enough, what other profession is legally held to PERFECTION by 2014? Are police required to eliminate all crime? Are firefighters required to eliminate all fires? Are doctors required to cure all patients? Are lawyers required to win all cases? Are coaches required to win all games? Of course they aren’t.
For no other profession do so many outsiders refuse to accept the realities of an imperfect world. Crime happens. Fire happens. Illness happens. As for lawyers and coaches, where there’s a winner there must also be a loser. People accept all these realities, until they apply to public education.
If a poverty-stricken, drug-addled meth-cooker burns down his house, suffers third degree burns, and then goes to jail; we don’t blame the police, fire department, doctors, and defense attorneys for his predicament. But if that kid doesn’t graduate high school, it’s clearly the teacher’s fault.
And if someone – anyone - tries to tell you otherwise; don’t listen. He must be a teacher.
District news, Education and society, Politics Elections & Education
Continue reading on Examiner.com In what other profession... - Topeka K-12 | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/k-12-in-topeka/in-what-other-profession#ixzz1OJc0Vz1V
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Copy of Fayette Co Prelim 0910 Admin Average Salary by Position
Thursday, April 28, 2011
By Stacy Lee
Friday, April 22, 2011
Last updated: 9:25 am
About the writer
Stacy Lee is a McKeesport Daily News staff writer and can be reached at 412-664-9161 or via e-mail.
"If we do work together on this as teachers, as community members, as school board members, as administrators and as legislators, we can stop this," TEACH member Steve Singer said. "But only if we work together."
That was the message echoed numerous times as Steel Valley School District school directors, staff and parents met with local legislators Thursday night to discuss education cuts in Gov. Tom Corbett`s proposed budget.
TEACH, an acronym for Tell Everyone All Cuts Hurt, is a committee of the communications branch of the Steel Valley Education Association teachers union.
"Our commitee was designed to unite school board members, unions, the district, parents, communities and administration to fight and oppose Gov. Corbett`s budget, and to show how bad these cuts are going to hurt our kids," said Melissa Pentin, a TEACH member.
Ryan Dunmire referred to the www.svteach.wikispaces.com website that Singer created for TEACH.
Signs that the committee have made that say "Gov. Corbett`s Budget = All Children Left Behind" and "Good School = Good Communities" are available on the TEACH website, in addition to T-shirts.
"Our signs have been very well-received and well-recognized," Dunmire said as she listed more than a dozen schools that have contacted her to purchase them.
State Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, said he will take two signs that were at the school board meeting to Harrisburg. He said he wants to buy more and put them throughout the area, and donated $500 for TEACH to make more signs.
Steel Valley superintendent Dr. William Kinavey encouraged the audience to call local legislators to voice disapproval of the education cuts. He said after numerous calls and assistance from the Public Consortium for Education, he will meet with Corbett April 29 in Pittsburgh.
"We need the support of everybody in town," Kinavey said. "It can`t be Harrisburg hearing every day from the superintendent at Steel Valley. It`s got to be a lot of people calling."
He also said that, contrary to some rumors, Steel Valley still will have full-day kindergarten at Franklin Primary Center.
Singer said TEACH was not looking to criticize the school board or administration Thursday night.
"We are here to plan to work collaboratively to stop these unnecessary budget cuts to education and this attack on unions of all stripes," he said.
Singer said he`s sure the audience is aware the Steel Valley teachers all received notice of possible furlough.
"Yeah, it hurts," he said. "Speaking for myself and the great majority of teachers I`ve spoken with, I do not bear any ill will toward this board for those notices. We are well aware the board and the administration is between a rock and a hard place."
Singer said TEACH members were pleased with state Rep. Bill Kortz`s testimony March 31 to the state House Appropriations Committee regarding his disagreement over cutting the education budget $1.5 billion. Singer played it for the audience.
During his testimony, Kortz gave ideas for other options to save money instead of cutting education. Some of his recommendations were taking a 10-percent cut to all branches of government, cutting the legislative slush fund by $100 million, eliminating redundant programs in the state, closing big tax loopholes, pushing for a new tax on political advertising, establishing a small severance tax on Marcellus shale, a small tax on smokeless tobacco and placing a temporary halt to the phase-out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax.
"The day the governor proposed his budget, he said this was a day of reckoning," Kortz told the audience Thursday night. "I beg to differ. It was a day of wrecking. He came in and he`s trying to wreck our education system."
TEACH chairwoman Jill Fleming-Salopek took a personal day on April 8 to attend the Allegheny League of Municipalities Conference at Seven Springs, where Corbett was speaking. She said the governor mentioned Munhall in his speech when he was discussing how he wanted to reach out to communities.
"We`re just a small dot on the map of Pennsylvania and he mentioned Munhall in his speech," Fleming-Salopek said. "I believe the reason he said it, and I started to question it, (is that) he said he took a drive through Munhall the day before. It just happened to be the day we were on the front page of The Daily News with our rally. All of our signs were up throughout the communities."
She said Steel Valley is losing $1,000 per child and Upper St. Clair School District is losing only $135 per child.
"Who do you think has a stronger tax base?" Fleming-Salopek asked. "Who do you think has more need for that money? There`s no equity and Rep. Kortz said that in his testimony. The whole equation for the equity doesn`t exist in (Corbett`s) budget and we`re getting pounded. When you look at the districts that are getting hit the hardest, Steel Valley is No. 6 in the state."
Steel Valley Business Manager Mark Cherpak explained how the district will see a $2.4 million cut if the state budget is approved as it is.
Ed Colebank, district director of academics, information and technology, recently took a vacation day to travel to Harrisburg to talk to Corbett and other legislators.
"I went there and basically got the same excuse as you do on the phone" he said. "They`re not here. They`re out of the office. They`re at the other office."
Colebank said he relayed his concerns to Corbett`s aides.
Gergely told teachers who live in Elizabeth Township, the Norwin area and the South Hills to contact his Republican colleagues.
"You have to call Rick Saccone, George Dunbar, Eli Evankovich, John Pippy, Mark Mustio," he said. "You`ve got to call the guys who are going to make the decision."
"It`s unbelievable to me that our budget would be put out where we would give drillers of Marcellus shale free rein to not be taxed or pay any tax at all as the only state in America to have that," Allegheny County Council president Rich Fitzgerald said. "We won`t tax that, but we will cut education up to 50 percent in the school districts. It`s unbelievable to me."
Many spoke about Senate Bill 1, the voucher bill, that would give financial aid, tuition credits or vouchers for state residents enrolled in non-public schools using tax dollars.
"We`ve got to be vigilant," state Sen. Jay Costa Jr., D-Forest Hills, said. "We`ve got to keep the pressure on. We`ve got to keep Senate Bill 1 bottled up."
He said the bill is not school choice.
"It`s touted as school choice," Costa said. "It`s not parental choice. School districts can decide whether or not they want kids to come to their school district. If they don`t like the way you look, your color or your family background, they don`t have to take you. That`s wrong."
Voicing opposition to the bill is on the Steel Valley school board`s agenda for its regular Tuesday board meeting.
Pennsylvania State Education Association spokesman Butch Santicola congratulated the TEACH group, the school board and administration for setting an example for the rest of the state.
"Every school district should be doing what`s going on in Steel Valley today," he said.
There will be a town hall meeting with local legislators on May 5 from 7-9 p.m. at McKeesport Area High School to discuss the education cuts for local school districts
April 5, 2011
I would appreciate if you or someone on your staff could provide me the answers to the following questions at your earliest convenience. I apologize in advanced for the number of questions.
1. Can you please share with me the PSSA, PVAAS and AYP scores for the private and parochial schools within Blair County? Since you support creating competition, I would like to be able to accurately compare the job that our public, private and parochial schools are doing.
2. Since funding to public education has been cut by about 20% and funding for our state supported universities has been cut by about 50%, can the taxpayers of Pennsylvania expect the Governor and the Legislature to cut their budgets by about the same amounts?
3. Along those lines, teachers, professors, other university employees, and state workers are expected to take a pay freeze for this year. Since you claim to be a fiscal conservative, can the taxpayers of Pennsylvania count on you and all of the members of your staff to take a pay freeze too? Technically, you are a state employee and we all should share the pain in these tough economic times.
4.A few questions related to the benefits of being an elected official:
a. How much do you pay into your state supported retirement system?
b. How much do our elected officials collect when they retire? On average, what percent of their
c. Are retired elected officials still covered by taxpayer sponsored health insurance?
d. How much is your monthly car allowance?
5. Without providing the names of your eight staff members, would you please provide the salaries
and benefit package for each of them?
6. What is the total cost of operating your office or offices for one year?
7. Do you support taxing the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling companies?
8. Would you be willing to introduce legislation freezing all of our elected officials and their staffs
salaries for the coming year?
9. Would you be willing to introduce legislation to reduce the Governorâ€™s and Congressional budgets by at least 20%?
10. Would you be willing to introduce legislation that would cut the size of our state legislature in half? There are 435 members in the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. for over 310 million Americans but we have 253 members in the Pennsylvania Congress for a population of 12.7 million. That seems a bit excessive. Tens of millions of dollars would easily be saved by doing this.
11. Would you be willing to introduce legislation that would require a taxpayer referendum any time an elected official in Pennsylvania would like a raise?
One final thought, I find it disturbing that in your March 31st blog you stated, I got my usual anti-freedom emails from public school employees. So anyone who disagrees with you or has a difference of opinion is to be considered anti-freedom? I always thought that in a democratic society, an open dialogue and discussion with ones elected representative was valued. I âm sure that those anti-freedom public school employees will use their constitutional rights during the next election.
I look forward to your response.
Obviously, you are connected to a public school and don't want to discuss, in a rational manner, the problems concerning the funding and performance of public schools. You know the answers to many of the questions you asked and won't accept my answers on others I could answer. Instead of trying to take deflect your system's shortcomings onto the legislature, gas drilling or corporate America, I would suggest that you work to make public education better. You evidently feel that public ed is perfect or, maybe, it isn't perfect, but can only be looked at when every other problem in Pennsylvania is fixed first. I don't share your view. I represent the interests of taxpayers and children.
You should as well.
Teachers Aren't the Enemy
Pedro Noguera and Michelle Fine | April 21, 2011
Public school teachers and their unions are under a sustained assault that is still unfolding. In 2010 Michelle Rhee, former Washington, DC, schools chancellor, announced the creation of a multimillion-dollar lobbying organization for the explicit purpose of undermining teachers unions. She has charged that “bad teachers” are the primary cause of the problems that beset America’s schools. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asserted that effective teachers need no experience. Romanticizing the young, energetic, passionate (read: cheap) teacher, he has made eliminating seniority preferences in layoffs (aka, last in, first out—or LIFO) his pet cause (it has been stymied for the time being by the state legislature).
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has slashed school aid by $1.2 billion while refusing to comply with a court-mandated formula for school funding equity. He has become a right-wing hero by demonizing teachers, lambasting unions, challenging tenure rights and introducing a crude teacher-evaluation process based on student test scores. Christie is also pushing what he calls a “final solution”—$360 million in tax credits for a tuition voucher system that would permit any child in New Jersey go to any school, public or private, and would include state subsidies for some students already attending parochial schools and yeshivas.
It’s hard to think of another field in which experience is considered a liability and those who know the least about the nuts and bolts of an enterprise are embraced as experts.
The attack has diverse roots, and comes not only from Republicans. Groups like Democrats for Education Reform have dedicated substantial resources to undermining teachers unions. With Race to the Top, the Obama administration has put its weight behind a reform agenda featuring charter schools, which employ mostly nonunion labor, as its centerpiece. A disturbing bipartisan consensus is emerging that favors a market model for public schools that would abandon America’s historic commitment to providing education to all children as a civil right. This model would make opportunities available largely to those motivated and able to leave local schools; treat parents as consumers and children as disposable commodities that can be judged by their test scores; and unravel collective bargaining agreements so that experienced teachers can be replaced with fungible itinerant workers who have little training, less experience and no long-term commitment to the profession.
In this atmosphere of hostility to public schools and teachers, it has become nearly impossible to have a rational discussion among educators, parents, advocates, youth and policy-makers about what should be done. Honest analyses suggest that removing ineffective teachers is an excessively slow and arduous process, though unions are often blamed when administrators have failed to document problems systematically. Likewise, the LIFO system for layoffs does need reform because it contributes to high turnover in the most disadvantaged schools. These schools are the hardest to staff, and in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, many veteran teachers have found ways to avoid being assigned to such schools. But candid conversations about how to solve these problems are extraordinarily difficult when any comment critical of unions is likely to be used as a weapon by the right.
None of the reforms on the table address the inequality and opportunity gaps that plague our schools. Raging debates over LIFO, seniority, teacher evaluation and test-based school closings do little to improve schools and much to distract from the real challenges. Moreover, because current reforms have been designed to promote school choice and weaken the unions, they have been exacerbating the challenges rather than fixing them.
* * *
But teachers unions and their allies are fighting back. Trade unionists, civil rights activists and educators have rallied with the Wisconsin protesters and put Governor Scott Walker on the defensive. To have the greatest impact, the unions must find a way to mobilize parents, young people and communities. Without their support, teachers will not succeed in countering these assaults. Getting that support will not be easy, because it requires educators to acknowledge that the school status quo is untenable and to join labor rights to educational justice.
In a small but growing number of school districts, teachers and their unions are taking the lead rather than waiting for policy-makers to act. At Columbus High School in the Bronx, teachers are working with students and parents to resist the district’s efforts to close the school by addressing the causes of student failure. In the South Bronx, parents, labor, educators and community organizers, united as CC9, have designed a strategy to reverse teacher turnover by providing new teachers with support from veteran lead teachers.
In Chicago, Karen Lewis, of the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE), is presiding over the Chicago Teachers Union with a platform to reverse Renaissance 2010, a program to close many schools serving poor children of the South Side and timed to coincide with the demolition of housing projects pushing great numbers of poor people out of the city. CORE is focused on much more than salaries and benefits. It is challenging the use of high-stakes testing to punish students, teachers and schools, organizing for greater equity in school finances and mobilizing with parents against school closings.
In Milwaukee, longtime education activist Bob Peterson, editor of Rethinking Schools, is running for union president. Peterson worked with a broad array of local activists to defeat mayoral control of the schools and co-founded an educator/parent task force on responsible assessment.
And in California, the California Teachers Association sponsored the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA), which has targeted funding toward reducing class size, hiring more counselors and providing professional development for teachers focused on the sharing of best practices. Schools that have enjoyed QEIA support have shown marked student improvements, particularly for low-income young people of color and English as a second language learners. This activism will culminate in a national Save Our Schools March in Washington on July 30.
We can begin to feel the rumble of solidarity, with parents, teachers, labor and youth taking back what is rightfully theirs—public schools and democratic public education.
Source URL: http://www.thenation.com/article/160090/teachers-arent-enemy
THURSDAY MAY 5, 2011
RENZIE PARK BAND SHELL
BRING A BELL OR NOISEMAKER FOR THE RALLY
WALK TO MCKEESPORT AREA HIGH SCHOOL
TO THE TOWN HALL MEETING 7:00 PM
FEATURING REP GERGLEY, REP KORTZ, STATE
SENATOR BREWSTER AND MORE
GOV. CORBETT’S BUDGET = ALL CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND
Parking is available behind the fire hall across the street from the band shell or McKeesport High School.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
From PITTSBURGH BUSINESS TIMES
"The rankings in this guide are based on standardized test scores and answer the question ‘which school or district has the highest-scoring students?’ This ranking answers the question ‘which school districts do better than expectations basehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifd upon economics?’ This rank takes the Honor Roll rank and adds the percentage of students in the district eligible for free and reduced lunch into the formula. A district finishing high on this rank is smashing expectations, and any district above the median point is exceeding expectations."
Statewide our Overachiever Rank is 95/496!
School District Information
PBT HONOR ROLL RANKS
This year rank (out of 104 local): 77
Last year rank (out of 105 local): 79
Statewide rank (out of 496): 374
Economic disadvantaged rank (out of 105 local): 87
Overachiever rank (out of 104 local): 26
District budget, 2010-11: $40,894,025.00
Tax millage rate: 14.43
Percent of students who are economically disadvantaged (qualify for free/reduced lunch): 42.59%
Feel free to share the link.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
FIND YOUR SENATOR.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The Republican leadership is trying to ram this through today. Please take action NOW before they vote on this outrageous legislation.
According to No Voucher Tax.org:
• SB 1 will raise your property taxes. The public schools aren’t going away, and if the state takes billions away from local school boards, your local property taxes will go up.
• SB 1 creates a new Harrisburg bureaucracy. The bill creates a brand-new agency in Harrisburg, with staff, offices and equipment.
• SB 1 is unconstitutional. Article III, Section 15 of the PA Constitution states: “No money raised for the support of the public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated or used for the support of any sectarian school.”
• SB 1 is a huge unfunded liability for taxpayers. Cost estimates for SB 1 are based on just 10% of low-income families. Dr. Woodrow Sites of the PA Association of Rural and Small Schools testified that the real price tag could be more than $4.5 billion a year.
• SB 1 has no accountability. SB 1 would send taxpayer dollars to private school operators with no requirement that they do a good job teaching kids. Isn’t that what’s wrong with education already? Even worse, there are numerous reports of financial fraud and other scandals in private school operations.
Take action now! Click here to tell your State Senator to vote NO on SB 1.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Feel free to repost and spread the link around.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Uniontown board approves teacher layoffs By Carla DeStefano Herald-Standard heraldstandard.com
As Uniontown Area educators prominently displayed signs with messages that urged the district for a fair contract Monday, directors passed a motion to authorize layoffs based on the curtailing of certain programs.
Deep state budget cut proposals and lingering debt in the Uniontown Area School District forced directors to authorize the layoffs, allowing administrators to give ample notification in the event the measure will be taken if programs are cut.
Dr. Charles Machesky, district superintendent, said that a loss of personnel could result through program cuts, but could not specify which programs could be affected. He said the cuts, if they occur, would be based on seniority.
In an 8-0 vote, the board also approved Machesky's recommendation to offer an early retirement incentive for employees who worked in the school district for at least 30 years. The buyout would include a one-time incentive payment of $10,000 and vacated positions would not be filled.
"The savings per individual would be a minimum of $83,000 a year," he said, addressing comments from the public who were pressing for clarification of the two motions. "Nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. We are asking for approval for both of these in case they are needed."
Negotiations are still underway, seven months after the teachers' contract has expired. At a meeting earlier this month between district officials and the association, directors made an offer that included a two-year wage freeze. The association rejected the offer.
David VanNosdeln of Ohiopyle, a business owner in the district and father of two Uniontown Area school students, addressed directors, blaming them for "punishing teachers with their salaries when they did not put the district in debt."
District officials contend that millions of dollars of debt and decreasing help from the government allow for little movement while the teachers claim they are the lowest paid educators in any district in Fayette County.
"These are the people trying to shape this community and make a difference," VanNosdeln said. "These teachers aren't looking to get rich. These teachers are not being selfish in asking for additional pay."
Dario Piccolomini acknowledged that all parties are frustrated, but he feels that now is the time that unity is needed in the district.
"It goes beyond this room. There is a radio station that is constantly making jokes of Fayette County. We are the laughingstock of southwestern Pennsylvania," he said. "Everybody needs to step up as a community and work together here. We need to stop filling pockets and scratching backs and step up."
In other business, the board failed to pass a motion made by Director Philip Holt to hold the line on taxes for the 2011-12 school year.
"Because of the hardship in the district, I propose that the property tax stays the same this year as last years," Holt said.
The motion failed 5-3 with Directors Ken Meadows, Bill Rittenhouse, Paul Bortz, Terry Dawson and Vincent Winfrey opposing. Directors Bill Gerke, Thomas George and Holt voted in favor. Director Lloyd Williams was absent from the meeting.
"It would be fiscally irresponsible to take that stand," Dawson said. "If you don't raise taxes, I do not know who you are even going to create a budget next year."
Turning to other matters, by a 7-to-1 vote, directors approved the closure of the Kindergarten Center at the end of the 2010-11 school year.
Dawson opposed the closure, stating he was in favor of a kindergarten-only setting for first-year students.
"I just really liked that focused approach," he said of the center that has been operating as a kindergarten-only facility for about six years. "But I understand it costs money to operate and it is located in a flood zone, so I understand why it has to close."
Ben Franklin students will return to their home school for the 2011-12 year and Lafayette students will attend Menallen School for a maximum of one year.
In security business, directors voted 5-3 to approve a new school police policy that includes procedures that govern an existing policy that authorizes some school police officers to carry weapons.
According to the district's solicitor, Jim Davis of Davis & Davis Attorneys At Law, in the past, the school board had already authorized some school police officers to carry firearms. The new policy approved Monday was "necessary if force happens to be used, there is a policy in place."
Gerke, George and Holt opposed the motion while Meadows, Rittenhouse, Bortz, Dawson and Winfrey approved.
"That policy should be changed anyhow," said George. "There should be no policy that allows anyone to have a weapon on any school grounds in the district."
Saturday, March 19, 2011
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Crisis in Dairyland - Apocalypse Cow|
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
2010-2011 Actual State Budget Funding: $16,456,000
2011-2012 Proposed State Budget Funding: $14,056,022
2011-2012 Proposed State Budget Cut: $2,399,978
Public Education in PA to be cut by $1 billion
Today Governor Corbett unveiled the state budget that he is sending to the House and Senate for their consideration. The proposed cuts will have real and lasting consequences for your students and for you.
See how Governor Corbett's budget will impact your district at www.psea.org/schoolcuts.
If the Governor's budget stands, many of you who are reading this will not have a job next year. I am deeply saddened by this fact. I am also very concerned about the impact of these cuts on the children we teach and the great strides we have made over the past six years. Learn more at www.psea.org/goodnews.
We will share more information as we continue our analysis of the budget and accompanying legislation. I'm sure you have already heard about the Governor’s call for all public education employees to accept a one year pay freeze. I have scheduled a webinar with your local president within the week to discuss this and other issues regarding the Governor’s budget.
For today, you need to know that in addition to slashing public education by 9.9%, the Governor is proposing many sweeping policy changes including, but not limited to:
* Elimination of State Support for Master's Salary Increases. No state subsidy to pay school employees beyond the bachelor's column.
* Private and Religious School Vouchers. Diverting tax dollars to private and religious school tuition.
* Economic Furloughs. Allowing school districts to furlough school employees for factors other than seniority.
* Property Tax Referenda. Voter approval for any property tax increase over inflation at the school district level.
* Merit Pay. Providing state resources to guide local districts in the development of merit pay plans.
* Lowering Standards. The governor's proposal lowers standards for becoming a teacher or a school nurse.
Please know that your PSEA Officers, Board of Directors, and staff all stand ready to partner with you in these serious financial and policy debates.
To prevail in these discussions, YOUR voice must be heard and I need you to stand up for your students, your job, and public education.
E-mail your legislators to express your concern over Governor Corbett's proposed budget.
Take Action Now
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Posted: Sunday, February 20, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 9:36 am, Sun Feb 20, 2011.
Company pulls workers from high school project By Carla DeStefano Herald-Standard heraldstandard.com |
Firm cites asbestos concerns at Uniontown
A company involved in the Uniontown Area High School renovation project has pulled its workers from the site over concerns regarding the removal of asbestos.
"We decided to be on the safe side and not press our luck," said Ron Haniford, project manager for H.L. Thomas Inc of Vanderbilt. The subcontracted company is responsible for the sheet-metal work in the project and had sent a registered letter to the primary contactor stating it was pulling its workers from the job.
"We felt they weren't doing the proper abatement. That is something you just have to do right," Haniford said. "Any other job site with asbestos abatement, they seemed to have isolated the areas and sometimes put up plastic to isolate the area. This didn't seem to be the case at the high school. According to our foreman, we thought they had already proceeded with the asbestos abatement before the school board even voted on it."
Dr. Charles Machesky, district superintendent, insists that the asbestos has not been disturbed in the building and that environmental air reports are on file at the administration offices.
"I have no credible evidence from any reputable, licensed, environmental, asbestos-related source that tells me or anybody else in the Uniontown Area School District that there is asbestos in the air at the Uniontown high school," he said. "Until I receive that, I am operating under the assumption that it is safe
"If they don't want to do the work, they should quit and not come back. I'll be there Monday morning. I am in the high school almost every day," Machesky added.
Robert Smalley, district director of building and grounds, said he met with the four primary contractors on the job Friday, and all said they felt there were no problems with their workers in the buildings, with the exception of H.L. Thomas.
Smalley said abatement work is to begin in a ceiling in the old cafeteria on Monday. During the renovations project, as workers began to tear down the ceiling, they found a fixed system ceiling above it. Smalley said the old ceiling then tested positive for asbestos.
At a board meeting last week, Brian Kilgus, of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates Architects said since the asbestos was discovered, the area has been sealed off and the contained air is being monitored.
Smalley said officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of health safety legislation, visited the school on Feb. 13 and deemed the area safe.
But workers on site have complained to school officials that the area was not sealed off properly and some work on the ceiling containing asbestos already had been started and that contractors had continued to work in the area. Workers also said it was almost a week after the asbestos was discovered before the area was sealed off.
The workers also discussed their concerns with the Herald-Standard but refused to give their names, citing concerns of reprisals.
"I don't know exactly when the plastic went up, but after it was sealed, we brought the consultant back in and did the air testing and it came back negative," Smalley said.
Smalley said contractors did remain in the area so that the lower ceiling could be removed in order for the abatement to be completed.
"I think they (construction workers) saw some places in the old ceiling that had been broken up and some holes, but those were there," Smalley said. "We were told not to disturb it and haven't touched that ceiling."
Workers also had expressed concern about clouds of asbestos-filled dust being blown into other areas of the school after air conditioners on the roof were turned on.
But Smalley said the air conditioner over the old cafeteria is a closed system.
"The fan there only connects to that room. It is self-contained," he said. "We know nothing could pull into the air vent, so we know nothing was discharging from it."
Machesky dismissed the complaints from the workers.
"Where do these people presume all the reports are coming from?'' asked Machesky. "OSHA has been there. The environmental people have been in there. The anonymous construction workers can stay home. There would not be teachers and students in that building if it weren't safe. There's no way we would allow that."
Smalley said there is minimal traffic in the area near the old cafeteria where asbestos was found. No classrooms are in the area and students have been moved from the band room as workers are set to begin renovations on that room.
The abatement company, Power Component Systems of Harrisburg, is expected to be on site Monday to set up and begin the process of eliminating the asbestos.
Principal Thomas Colebank said he is being briefed weekly on the renovation project and feels safe in the building.
"I trust what I am being told by the construction manager," he said. "I have had no information that says we are not safe."
Monday, January 17, 2011
Ben Franklin students collected supplies during the month of October for US troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 700 items were collected. Mrs. Eicher’s 8th Grade homeroom collected the most supplies with 239 items. All supplies will be sent to the troops through the Uniontown War and Veterans Committee.
Top Row – Zack Helisek, Annalise Ranaldi, Juanita Harris, Joe Joseph, Lucas Stinger, and Kima Harris
Bottom Row – Tyler Tolbert, Keremy Kelley, and Maggie Franks
The Student Council and all of the students and staff at Ben Franklin School in the Uniontown Area School District participated in the “Pennies for Patients Program” which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Ben Franklin raised $596.73 to fight for a cure and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
American Cancer Society: $238
East End United Community Center: $205
Domestic Violence Shelter: $180
Fayette Friends of Animals: $165