Debbie Bookstaber: School Board Update August-November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

The fall has been an incredibly busy time for the School Board. I've included some highlights from my perspective below. If you're looking for a comprehensive report, read the minutes and Action Line updates online at

August Update:
  • The rising cost of gas impacted the district- especially the transportation budget. At the Finance meeting, the board discussed district efforts to conserve fuel.

  • In response to the unprecedented increase in food costs, the board approved an increase to school lunch prices. Breakfast at the Elementary Schools increased from $1.25 to $1.35. Lunch at the Elementary Schools increased from $2.10 to $2.35. Breakfast at the Middle Schools increased from $1.25 to $1.35. Lunch at the Middle Schools increased from $2.20 to $2.50. Breakfast at the High School increased from $1.50 to $1.75. Lunch at the High School increased from $2.35 to $2.75.

  • With T&E Care, I worked to launch a program to assist students that miss the cutoff for Free and Reduced Lunch with lunch costs. The program started in October. If you are interested in applying for the program, visit

  • If you can, please support T&E Care with your donations. In addition to its work in the community, T&E Care supports our districts students in many ways. I've worked with T&E Care to run the school supply drive and to provide refurbished computers to students. These supplies and computers help these students succeed in school.

September Update:

  • Green Schools: The School Board is working hard to "green" the schools. These efforts apply to transportation (the district applied for a bio-diesel fuel grant), facilities improvements, communications with parents and the public, and even how the board works. For example, the board now receives electronic weekly updates. Previously, the board updates were delivered by hand, and each board member received a packet that contained hundreds of pages weekly. The e-updates are a great improvement- both in terms of cost savings and the environment. Another green effort that is both environmentally friendly and a way of saving money is the electronic bulletin board. In response to input from parents, the Public Information Committee and Administration worked to set up an electronic bulletin board for non-school related fliers. This reduced the size of the weekly PTO newsletters- saving time and paper. Additionally, many parents have opted to receive their newsletters electronically.

  • The board adopted a Fund Balance Policy, which was discussed in Spring 2008.

  • Transportation: TE has a new bus contractor this year, so the transportation coordinator Toni Pulcini spoke at the Finance Meeting in order to answer board questions and parent concerns about transportation. Here's her report:
    Transportation Report to the Finance Committee – September 2008

    Currently the District utilizes 113 vehicles to transport approximately 7,700 children each day to 106 different schools. The vehicles travel approximately 9,936 miles daily over 512 different bus runs and stops almost 2600 times each day traveling over 28 square miles within the District roads and well beyond.

    This summer we continued our three year plan to evaluate our bus runs with the goal of enhancing efficiency while maintaining safety. Last year, we re-designed several HS runs and this year we evaluated and re-designed several Middle School bus runs. Our goal next year will be to evaluate the ES runs in the same manner.

    Also this past spring we mailed postcards to all households listing their current stop information with an opportunity for correction. This summer, in the interest of student safety, we mailed individual letters to all households instead of publishing the bus stop location and times in the newspaper. This also allowed us to get the information to the parents earlier and including it in the school mailings saved us postage costs. We also redesigned and updated the information on our web site.

    As part of the ongoing plan the revised runs, along with several other factors, have resulted in changes to existing patterns throughout the District. One of those factors was several additional roads were deemed “hazardous” by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Districts are required to transport any student who would walk along a hazardous route. This increased the number of students the District is required to transport by approximately 150 students. To accommodate the students, runs were re-established, thus changing the former runs. Another factor was in an attempt to improve efficiency and safely transport all students, efforts have been made to relocate bus stops from individual addresses to intersections of roads where students have a place to wait safely. Relocating stops to safe intersections allows space for buses to maneuver and for groups of students to wait. In future years, the relocation of stops should be reduced as intersections can serve all students in a neighborhood. Changes due to these factors may have contributed to different run times.

    NOTE: Since working with our new contractor, we have taken advantage of their safety officer’s review of stop locations. He is a former accident reconstruction officer with the PA State police.

    Since 1993, TE has been using a “multiple-run” transportation system. Many of our bus drivers begin their morning and afternoon by completing a run to/from Conestoga High School. These buses then complete additional runs for middle school and elementary school students. The length of the High School run determines that arrival time at the Middle School. The first flight of buses is scheduled to leave the MS prior to the second flight arriving approximately 15 minutes later. Its possible that students, who in prior years, were on a first flight bus are now experiencing a change due to a switch to a second flight run, resulting in a later drop off time.

    Please be assured that we are continuing to look at all of the run times to try to make them more efficient.

October Update:

  • TENIG Contract: The board approved a collective bargaining agreement between the District and the Tredyffrin Easttown Non-instructional Group for the period July 1, 2009-June 30, 2014.

  • The Board reviewed and approved the 2008-2009 District Goals. You can check them out at

  • Recess: I spoke to many parents about their concerns regarding a reduction of recess at the elementary schools. (The second outdoor recess had been turned into an indoor snack break.) Parents came to the September and October Board Meetings to voice their concerns. At the October Education Meeting, the Board heard parent concerns and then received a report on the elementary program with information from the Resource Utilization Task Force and the Elementary Blueprint for Instruction Committee. Included in this information were reports on Use of Instructional Time, Research on Literacy Instruction, Research on Math/Science Instruction and the Six-Day Schedule. The District was able to restore the second outdoor recess in response to parent concerns.

November Update:

  • 2009-2010 Budget: The Board approved the Finance Committee recommendation to certify that the District would stay within the Act 1 cap (4.1%) rather than applying for eligible exceptions which would increase taxes further. The Finance Committee is still working on the budget, and our goal is to have the lowest possible tax increase.

  • Calendar: The Board approved the proposed calendar for the 2009-2010 school year after reviewing many drafts and hearing parent feedback. The approved calendar was draft G. The board discussed drafts A-F at the September, October and November education committee meetings.

  • The District conducted a test of the TE All Call System. Click here for more info on the TE All Call System.


Here are some recent pictures. I couldn't resist uploading them!