Monday, April 25, 2011

Easton and Palisades School Districts Continue to Fight Over Riegelsville Kids

Posted by: Noël Jones

Colin McEvoy reports in today's Express-Times that a group of Riegelsville residents called the the Riegelsville Tax and Education Coalition have made some progress in their case to secede from the Easton Area School District and send their kids to the Palisades district. There are few things that aggravate me about this case. 

First of all, if you read the article, you'll see that the onus is on the parents to prove that the Palisades school district provides a better education than the Easton district, because apparently they cannot legally petition to send their kids to the other
district based on the taxes they are forced to pay--even though, by some weird state formula, the Riegelsville residents got a 30% PERCENT property tax hike in 2006 (I'm still trying to understand that one, when Easton residents only got a 4.5% increase). And yet, both school districts are against these 60 border students switching sides--their reason? That it would upset a state subsidy that the Palisades district currently gets, and EASD would lose $1.4 million in tax revenue. So for some reason, the parents aren't allowed to protest on the basis of taxes, but the districts are. What gives?

Secondly, Stuart Knade, chief counsel for the Pennsylvania School Board Association (PSBA) for some reason is weighing in on this case, when they have nothing to do with the case itself, and they too, are against these parents' desires. Why the PSBA is being consulted at all is a mystery to me--it could be that both school districts are paying them (with our tax money) for legal counsel to try to defeat these parents--but what has always aggravated me and continues to aggravate me about the PSBA is that they are a TAX PAYER PAID ENTITY, that seems to be consistently working against the wishes of the taxpaying residents that pay their salaries, and are constantly drumming up new reasons that our school districts should pay them more of our tax money for services that they invent and offer.

When it comes to people wanting to cut fat in our bloated bureaucracy, the PSBA is near the top of my list. Whether it's counseling our school boards to shut out public comment, or insisting that we can't do our search for a new business manager (that we need to pay them to do it for us) or telling the state that they shouldn't let parents decide where to send their children to school when they live on the border of two districts and are getting the hell taxed out of them, I cannot help but think how nice it would be for everyone to be able to keep their share of the tax money that is being funneled to pay the salaries of the MANY employees of the PSBA who seem to exist to work against the very people that pay them. When Governor Corbett looks for new cuts, I hope he will look there.


Anonymous said...

What, Noel, no smart-ass comments regarding the quality of education in Easton? You usually have something negative to say about the Easton School District.

I say let the bastards go to Palisades SD! They simply do not want their kids going to school with minority children, and we wonder why the minorities in this country hate "whitey."

noel jones said...

ah, yes...because any comments about a district that has had multiple schools in corrective action for several consecutive years must be "smart-ass" and couldn't possibly be of valid concern, is that it?

why are they "bastards" for wanting their kids to go to Palisades? they are in bucks county--why shouldn't their kids go to school in bucks county if they want them to?

what's strange to me, aside from that point, is that for some reason the parents have to show proof (which they have) that the schools in Palisades perform better, and cannot argue their case on the basis of where their tax dollars are spent, while the two districts can argue that the status quo should remain, specifically BECAUSE of how tax money is dolled out.

Anonymous said...

last I checked, PSBA is not a part of the state how could Corbett cut them??

noel jones said...

very if they are a tax payer funded entity, and weighing in on major decisions that affect our school districts, how are they getting funded if not as a government entity? please don't tell me they are a nonprofit, or i will lose it...this is a genuine question to the readership at large--is the PSBA a government agency or not, and if not, how is it that their salaries are paid with our tax money?

if anyone knows, please post! (preferably with a link to back it up) in the meantime I will try to see what more i can find out...

if they are a nonprofit (rrrr...) and getting state tax money to pay their attorneys to work AGAINST the residents who pay them, then the governor could cut that funding and make the world a better place.

Anonymous said...

PSBA is a lobbying group supported by school districts. Although independent PSBA is supported by dues paid by school districts. Where do the school districts get the money from to pay the dues:


SECTION 1. When Payable. All dues shall be payable annually on
July 1 of each year.

SECTION 2. Amount Payable. The amount of dues in the various membership categories shall be as follows:

A. School Districts. For the year beginning July 1, 1987, and thereafter unless changed, dues for school districts shall be the sum of the following:

1) Six dollars per million on the first billion dollars plus one dollar and 75 cents for each additional million of the district’s market valuation established by the latest certification of the Pennsylvania State Tax Equalization Board but subject to a maximum of $8,500; plus
2) An annual base rate of $800 per district.

Anonymous said...

The governor or legislature has no control. The school boards control PSBA. It would be very ordinary for PSBA to sue on behalf of member school districts to identify issues that may impact all districts

noel jones said...

Anons--thank you for the information. I don't know how I missed that they were a nonprofit when I first looked them up last year, but this is from their web site:

"The Pennsylvania School Boards Association is a nonprofit statewide association of public school boards pledged to the highest ideals of local lay leadership for public schools of the commonwealth."

Translation: "Taxpayers pay us to tell them how to govern themselves."

They go on to say:
"The Pennsylvania School Boards Association, founded in 1895, has a rich history as the first school boards association established in the United States. Not only do we represent the 4,509 school directors across the state in 501 school districts, we also are a valuable resource for intermediate units, career and technical schools, school solicitors, superintendents and other school administrators, legislators and governmental agencies."

Translation: "We are also a valuable resource" = "we have invented all sorts of services that you should pay us even more taxpayer money for on a regular basis--especially lawyers for your lawyers to talk to."

noel jones said...

Then, there is there strategic plan for 2012:

January 19, 2007
Strategic Intent

The leadership of PSBA has determined a direction and articulated a picture of what the organization intends to become by 2012:

PSBA will be broadly recognized as:

The lead public education association by key stakeholders ("key stakeholders" meaning who?--certainly not the people paying them, i.e., US)

Representing the public's interests in public education (OH REALLY--by trying to break the Sunshine Laws and shut out public comment? By telling parents in Bucks County that they can't send their children to Bucks County schools?)

The primary resource for school boards and public education

A leading education policy and research center (great--that's what we're forking over our property taxes for?)

Therefore, PSBA will:

Adapt programs and services to best serve school boards in a changing environment (considering we elect school boards and therefore school boards serve US, that should mean that they want to serve US, but they don't)

Recognize and support school districts that demonstrate effective governance (Translation: notice who's doing well and show our approval--is this seriously a tax-worthy service?)

Be instrumental in effecting public education policy changes (This, I think is their first honest statement--they want to be in charge of changing the rules)

Communicate more directly with stakeholders in coordination with school boards (again--who are these "stakeholders" because they are not US)

Promote greater membership participation in PSBA governance and education policy development (in other words, EXPAND THE PSBA, which = more of our tax money)

Further diversify its revenue base (Translation: get more money for themselves)


Determine PSBA's role as the lead public education association (who cares?)

Develop programs to recognize and promote effective governance (yeah, thanks, we've already seen your ideas in that regard--no thank you)

Ensure PSBA has expertise to implement strategic plan (Translation: hire more "experts", which will require more of our tax money)

Enhance member participation in PSBA governance, advocacy and related activities (Translation: get school districts to pay them more tax money to do more stuff that they make up)

Expand consulting services to school boards and management teams (key word EXPAND = more of our money)

Develop a fully integrated communications function for all audiences (Wha?)

Increase utilization of PSBA programs & services (Translation: get us to pay them more tax money to do more stuff they make up)

Be the leader in school insurance (aaahh...)

Diversify PSBA's revenue base (find more money for themselves)

Ensure sound administrative procedures & controls (change the rules to benefit themselves)

Establish education research & policy analysis center (we do NOT need to be spending money on this)

Strengthen advocacy impact (Translation: get school districts and school boards to do what we want more often--like, for instance, not allowing public comment, and not allowing parents to decide where to send their kids to school)

So even if this is not technically a government body, the governor could still move to strike state tax funding for this group of self-serving lobbyists, couldn't he?

I mean, good grief, not only do they get paid according to the structure that Anon posted, but they charge us thousands on top of that in various contracts for "services", i.e., writing up "administrative regulations" for our school board, doing the executive search for a new COO, etc.

tachitup said...

Wow, what a sweet set-up. How do I get a job there? Really, the more we learn about this PSBA, the more interesting it gets. They're not taxpayer supported because the money goes somewhere else first. A briliant concept.
From what I see, they exist to get paid to do the work that our school directors are elected to do.
Too bad they didn't get PSBA to read the fine print in the teacher contract before approving it.