Day 9: December News Rundown

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By Ben Shapiro, Howard Kim, Aaron Wang and Aren Framil, Co-Copy Editor and Staff Reporters

An amended agreement: TENIG and school board renegotiate 2022-2025 contract

By Ben Shapiro and Howard Kim, Co-Copy Editor and Staff Reporter

After a few weeks of negotiations between the Tredyffrin/Easttown Non-Instructional Group (TENIG) and the school board, an amended staff contract was approved at the Nov. 22 school board meeting. The contract in its entirety will go into effect on July 1, 2022 and will remain until June 30, 2025.

Representing those employed by the district for non-instructional purposes, TENIG consists of maintenance workers, custodians, security personnel, cafeteria workers and secretaries. Their new collective bargaining agreement consists of five core changes from the previous contract: evening a previously bifurcated wage scale, establishing regular custodial vacation time, raising five lead custodians’ pay to a department coordinator level, increasing medical insurance premiums and maintaining a no outsourcing clause.

“It’s a very good contract; it’s better than we’ve had in a number of years. We didn’t really lose anything and we gained a lot. We got a good start to getting the (wage) scales crushed, and hopefully to getting some people — some custodians — in here,” Templeton said.

With contract discussion centering around how to resolve many of the district’s staffing issues, the changes mainly focused on how to retain old employees and obtain new hires. The 2014-2017 contract established a bifurcated wage scale with lower wages for post-2014 hires, hindering the maintenance of a robust staff. Templeton believes that the wage scale was the biggest issue needing resolving, and closing this gap was the main point of change within the new 2022-2025 contract.

“Over the next two to two and a half years, we are going to get everybody on the same pay scale. We needed to start making an incentive to get (more employees) here and to also keep the people that were already here,” Templeton said. “Because of the staffing issues, (the school board) wanted to up the pay rates immediately.”

While the contract does not officially go into effect until this July, mending the bifurcated wage scale was one of the few elements that will precede the full implementation of the contract. Going into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, faculty under wage scale A will receive a raise worth 50% of the dollar amount gap between their current salary and the salaries of scale B employees. Starting July 1, 2023, 50% of the remaining gap between scale A and scale B employees will be added onto scale A wages, and starting July 1, 2024, the rest of the gap will be tacked on to their salaries.

Additionally, beginning on Jan. 1, 2022, five elementary school custodians will begin receiving three hours of department coordinator pay every working day and Juneteenth will be made a paid holiday. While custodians lost a week of vacation time in 2014, this resolution returned it, providing upwards of 10 vacation days per year depending on how long the employee has been working for the district. 

“It (vacation time) had been something that (custodians) had been pretty passionate about the last couple years,” Templeton said. “The custodians that are here are all going to get their vacation time back; this is a big deal.”

With security guards receiving the highest wage increase to custodians receiving the smallest increase, TENIG employees will be receiving between 24.3% and 66.1% raises by 2025. The estimated total cost of these raises, bonuses and vacation time are estimated to cost the district a total of $1,143,200. Due to the contract increasing medical insurance premiums from 8% to 10%, however, the district will gain back an estimated $26,000. Overall, Templeton is happy with the changes made and looks back at the process of amending the contract positively.

“This was a fairly easy contract to negotiate because both parties were very willing. We know we had to do something to get this staffing issue resolved, keep everybody else happy and make sure everybody got something,” Templeton said. “Everybody got a seat at the table here.”

A new form of distance learning: Virtual tutoring program for quarantining students

By Aaron Wang, Staff Reporter

The T/E school district created a new form of distance learning based off of its Homebound Tutoring Program. Adopted as early as 1986, the program had tutors (mainly teachers and staff members) go to students’ houses to provide them with further instruction outside of the school setting as needed. However, in early 2020, COVID-19 ravaged the Tredyffrin/Easttown community, making the program impractical and forcing the school board to consider other options.

Recently, the board refined the program such that students may receive instruction even while quarantining, and on Nov. 15, 2021, after some discussion, it announced its new virtual tutoring program to the T/E community. Starting on Oct. 20, 2021, students quarantining for three or more days would be contacted by a tutor, who would schedule times for them to meet one-on-one for one to two hours on Teams to provide assistance in all subjects. As students return from quarantine, they may attend Homework Club to aid the transition process. Wendy Towle, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Staff Development and Planning believes the program will benefit quarantining students.

“We had heard from some of the students and some of their families — especially for the younger students — that although we put information on Schoology about what the students were missing and what their assignments and instructions were for the day, it really was not enough,” Towle said. “They didn’t feel like they needed to have somebody with them like we did when we had virtual teaching, but just to have a tutor check in, they would still be able to feel connected to school.”

Although the program has many positive aspects, it does hold some drawbacks. Towle, though happy with the overall program, hopes the plan’s cons will not obstruct quarantined students’ learning.

“There’s nothing that takes the place of sitting in the classroom,” Towle said. “One of the things we’ve learned through the pandemic is that the interactions between our teachers and our students are so valuable, so we would want all our kids to be in the classroom as much as they can.”

After being notified of the program through an email, 19 teachers registered as tutors, staying later to aid students and prepare extra resources to teach certain curricula. Fourth grade teacher and tutor Michelle Dailey feels that she can really  help students through the program.

“I know how hard it is for the students and for the parents, so just being able to provide that little bit of help to help them stay organized while they are not in school — I am happy to do that,” Dailey said. “It’s a great program.”

School Board Passes Student-led Renewable Energy Resolution

By Aren Framil, Staff Reporter

The school board passed a resolution on Nov. 22 to transition the district to renewable energy in all sectors by 2040. The resolution was brought to the board by three seniors: Lilly Shui, Clara Steege and Aishi Debroy. Detailed in the resolution are the reasons for why action against climate change is necessary and the goals that the district should strive to meet regarding renewable energy. 

“Climate change is really impacting our lives in every way imaginable. I’ve always really cared about the issue and hoped to do something about it. I got involved with the Tredyffrin Environmental Advisory Council, and that allowed me to learn more about the effects of climate change in our own area,” Steege said. 

Concern for the planet and the uncertainty of the future drives many young people across the globe into action, and these seniors were no exception. Inspired by a township-wide sustainability plan from the Tredyffrin Environmental Advisory Board, Steege decided to work towards including the school district in the efforts. Shui has a similar backstory, motivated by a sustainability resolution passed by the Radnor school district in 2020. Both Steege and Shui  state how the resolution helped put into perspective the impact they as a student could have in the fight against climate change. 

“It was really inspiring to see all the young people who are also fighting against climate change and the climate crisis. So, I decided to get involved. It’s been really great being able to explore sustainable opportunities in the community, and just doing what I can to help with the climate crisis,” Shui said. 

The resolution’s goal of transitioning to renewable energy will impact other things as well, including more effectively managing flooding from stormwater and helping save money as renewable energy becomes cheaper as technology develops. Measures such as working with existing green community initiatives and making academic and career connections to renewable energy are further detailed in the plan, providing ways to apply sustainability work to many aspects of life. The plan also calls for an annual report communicating the district’s progress towards the goals stated in the resolution.

“The impact would be really clear,” Steege said. “Schools are such big consumers of energy, and (because they) have so many students and staff every single day, (switching to using renewable energy sources) would save a lot of fossil fuels.”

However, the fight is not yet over. Steege believes much change and legislation is needed to effectively combat the climate crisis and motivate the population to implement sustainable practices more regularly in their everyday lives. Shui also recognizes the importance of government action and policy in helping people find their voices and advocate for environmental change.

Freshman Paulina Yang is one such advocate, and voices her concerns about the way the government is handling the climate crisis.

“I think the government should invest more money into helping (efforts against climate change) in Antarctica and stopping the polar ice caps from melting. In 50 years, if things don’t change, our kids will be living in a pretty dreary world,” Yang said.


Ben Shapiro can be reached at [email protected]

Howard Kim can be reached at [email protected]

Aaron Wang can be reached at [email protected]

Aren Framil can be reached at [email protected]