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Ridley Park resident presses Ridley School Board

At the October Ridley School Board meeting, Ridley Park resident Tom Ricker asked school directors to post the monthly board meeting agendas the Friday before regular meetings and that all board meetings be videotaped and posted online as well as run on Ridley television. Ricker also asked that all negotiated contracts be posted online.  Correspondent Barbara Ormsby was in the audience and filed this story for the DelCo Times.

“Taxpayers should not have to have file a RTK (right-to-know) request to see how their tax dollars are being spent,” Ricker said, reading from a prepared statement.

Ricker, who said he is a teacher, leveled criticism at school tax increases, citing a published report that Ridley’s taxes have gone up almost 100 percent in the last 10 years.

“This board needs to take responsibility for these outrageous tax increases,” he said. “Forty mills are comparable to Wallingford-Swarthmore but there is no comparison in terms of student performance, and yes, I realize, there are socio-economic differences.”

Ricker also said the school district’s commitment to neighborhood elementary schools may be too expensive, and the early retirement incentive programs for teachers have been found to not be worth their costs.

“You have a few teachers at Ridley who stay past 40 years, but most are happy to end their careers after 35 or 40 (years). The studies have found those teachers don’t need an incentive,” Ricker said, adding that the incentive is not in the teachers contract and does not need to be negotiated. “You can simply get rid of it as a matter of policy.”

Ricker cited Act 93 in criticizing building level administrators’ salaries he said are among the highest out of the 501 school districts in the state, the salaries of assistant principals and elementary principals, and yearly bonuses for administrators.

Noting that the school board members signed the Act 93 agreement for administrators last December, Ricker said the agreement does not represent the kind of leadership needed from “our most highly compensated class of employees.”

“During the December 2012 reorganization meeting, (board) president (Michael) Capozzoli bragged that Ridley’s was the best working board in all of Delaware County. You may all get along well together, but with all due respect, you are clearly not working for the taxpayers,” Ricker said.

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Comment by tim devabey on October 29, 2013 at 5:02pm

Thank you very much Mr. Ricker and Jeanne Frantz; we need more info from and about our Ridley School Board.  In Pennsylvania that is where the largest chunk of our private property taxes goes!

Did you know that ALL the members of the Ridley School Board routinely cross-file as both D's and R's at election time?  They say that by so doing they represent all the voters.  I say the purpose of School Board Candidates cross-filing is to block the opposition and maintain one Party rule. Most other States have ruled that practice ILLEGAL. 

Comment by jeanne frantz on October 25, 2013 at 2:40am

I want to thank Ridley Park resident,  Mr. Ricker,  for his comments to  the Ridley School Board.  He made concrete, reasonable suggestions that could go a long way to  to improving  community/school working relationahips .  His first suggestions concerned the school board 's actual monthly meeting.  It is reasonable in these times to expect the board to post the board agenda on line the Friday before the meeting and to have the board meetings.  videoed and posted on line. The meetings could be run periodically throughout the month.  Dates of the showings could be posted. Actually, in 2013, this is something that  taxpayers have the right to expect.  I am surprised that the board members, who were able to realize the value of IPods for our students,   did not think to put this into effect  years ago.  OIther school districts are light years ahead of us in this regard. I have attended many school board meetings, they are open, interesting and worthy of being shown.  I agree with  Mr. Ricker's comments and Act 93 and administrator's salaries, bonuses and  "extras" they get.  They are not in business world making their own profits.   It comes from the community's bank account.   I will say that Ms. Wentzel , our superintendent, about  four years ago took  a pay cut in line with the economic times.  She is very hard working and tries to help the community to understand what Ridley is trying to do.  She is a good communicator and that helps us all.  It's hard for me to comment on teacher's i retirement incentives.  I was a teacher for 43 years with Del County Intermediate  Unit.  None of us got any incentives.  I tend to think Mr.  Ricker is right.  They are nice, but after 40 years many teachers are ready to go. And, I'm not sure it ends up being  of great financial help to the districts to give retirement incentives. So, Ridley let's get with the times . Videp Tape the board meetings.  In addition, I have not checked lately but are the minutes of the meetings posted on line?  If not, suggest it as helpful.  Again, thank you Mr. Ricker! 

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