As school boards loom large in November’s elections, here are a few notes from a bipartisan discussion on “Talk About West Chester” (Monday, 3-4 p.m., WCHE, 1520 AM) between hosts Jim Jones (Dem member of Borough Council) and Paul Fitzpatrick (former Dem member and president of Borough Council) and guests Jim Smith (chair of WCASD, registered R) and Jim Davison (member of WCASD, registered R):
JD explained that the net raise to teachers is less than people think, because the Board went to “negative incentives” by freezing steps to advancement, which means some more highly paid teachers may depart; and the lowest-paid don’t move up in salary until they earn the grad credits.
JS said senior citizens paid for his education long ago, and he is willing to pay for others’ education now through his taxes. WCASD is known for quality education and for good scores among a diverse student body. We need to maintain a competitive salary schedule; and the board just added MA and doctoral degree as factors in the schedule.
JS later mentioned that the tax increase is only about $40-50 per average house, after the $147 state rebate. JJ: good schools keep up house prices. JD agreed and cited the good rating for WG schools in a recent Money article [which ranked West Goshen #11 in the country’s “best 100 places to live,” including school test scores well above the average for the 100 best places to live].
PF: people want to be in a strong community, as represented by schools, even if they don’t have kids. JD: word is out that WCASD is good on special needs. JJ, because of his web site, gets requests for info from people thinking of moving here, and 9 times out of 10 they say schools are the most important factor.
On the OJR situation, where a group of 5 out of 9 board members suddenly fired the superintendent without prior discussion with the other 4 members, JD said a board should adopt credos on how to behave when they disagree. Here in 1998 the board got into a mess, briefly; a poor board can damage the district. JS: OJR has had odd, screwball stuff, it’s a shame.