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Devon Man Stuns TE School Board With Check

At the end of a gruelling, nearly four-hour, meeting a grateful T/E School District parent does something unheard of.

TREDYFFRIN TOWNSHIP, PA -- Saying he wanted to express his gratitude for all his East Pennsylvania School District has done for him and his family over 53 school years, David Levine of Devon took out his checkbook and put his money where is mouth is.

Unprecedented Gift

After several hours of speeches from frustrated students, parents, teachers and board members Levine, the last member of the public to speak, took to the podium to thank the district. Then he took out his checkbook and wrote a check amounting to $100 for each year that he, his wife, and children attended T/E District Public Schools. The grand total: $5,300.

Levine told stunned board members and administrators that he is a grateful graduate of Conestoga High School, as are his wife and their three grown children. He then announced he was writing a check as a "thank you" gift.

A Calm Gesture after a Storm of Complaints

After a long line of angry speeches, including some students speaking from the heart and others who read remarks prepared for them, Levine finally got his turn. He was the last, and among the more soft-spoken, to take the podium. After thanking the board, teachers, and administrators Levine literally opened his checkbook and made out the check.

Many of the hundreds who packed the meeting had gone home by the time Levine got to speak, but not everyone.  School Board President Karen Cruickshank and District Business Manager Art McDonnell were among the stunned officials who were quick to express gratitude for the gesture, and the gift.

Almost Too Hard to Believe

"This is the first time I've ever had anyone write out a check at a (public) meeting like this," McDonnell told TE Patch, "and I've been around for a long time!"

Describing the amount of the check, McDonnell told Patch "that's bigger than the average ($4,710) district tax bill."

Before answering a TE Patch question in response to the gift, a stunned Board President Karen Cruickshank had to double-check with McDonnell to make sure what she had just seen happen, actually happened. McDonnell assured her that Levine had, in fact, just written a $5,300 check to the district.

Choked up by the gesture, Cruickshank told TE Patch "I have never seen anything like this before. One of our residents was so moved by everything that we do here in this district and everything that we could lose, that he whipped out his checkbook and wrote a check for 53-hundred dollars. That's incredible. Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Levine for this."

Cruickshank also emphasized a point she had made several times during the public meeting. Expressing the frustrations she and many board member share over unfunded state mandates and increased state pension costs for local school boards all over Pennsylvania Cruickshank lamented, "What a sad state that this is what public education has come to."

Barbara Cresswell April 24, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Wonderful. Action of gratitude. By Levine!!!
Michele Ippoliti April 24, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I commend the Levine family for their actions. It is truly a wonderful gesture. Unfortunately short term donations will only go so far and long term resolutions will still be needed and that is the sad reality
Nabob April 24, 2012 at 01:42 PM
The check was used to pay the overtime and security cost of the meeting.
Bob Byrne (Editor) April 24, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I've covered school boards, state legislatures and Congress.dating back to the early 80's. I've never seen anything like this happen before. When it comes to gift giving the old saying is "it's the thought that counts" While it may only cover some basic costs, it's a heck of lot of money and I wouldn't be at all surprised if the message that this gesture sends turns out to prove itself truly "priceless".
Bob Byrne (Editor) April 24, 2012 at 03:18 PM
A TE Patch reader just emailed me this question: "There has been lots of discussion about teacher cuts and the limits of property tax increases, but no one has revisited the the Earned Income Tax proposal that was shot down before the community even had a chance to weigh in on it. As I remember the school district would get approx. $3m per year from this tax. These funds would most likely squash the teacher and program cuts that are being discussed. Why is EIT out of the limelight now? That's a great question and I'm sure one that many people who did not closely follow the EIT story last year may be asking. Here's a link to a story that sums up the answer. http://patch.com/A-nH9g What it comes down to is pretty simple. Not enough people were willing to support the tax. When you cut away the politics and demographics behind why a majority of residents did not support the EIT it comes down to the board now having to find ways to cut spending in order to balance the budget as required by law. The board has cut $10 million in the past three years, so now the options become even fewer in number and less popular among taxpayers and the school communities of TESD.
Evan Davis April 24, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Increasing taxes should never be popular. However, eventually incremental cuts will not be popular either since educational excellence should remain TE's goal. TE teachers are great but PA continues unaffordable healthcare & pension benefits to gov't/teachers unions that companies stopped in the 90's. Doesn't gov't employee union lobbying power violate America's founding & the Constitution? PA should change this asap but otherwise we must revisit the EIT. BTW-Great gesture David!
cast4 April 24, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Nice gesture by Mr. Levine. What everyone has to remember is that neither side will get all of what they want. There needs to be a balance between taxes and cuts. All of these people complaining over cuts need to be realistic and consider the financial situation of the school district. It will take compromise on both sides to help overcome these issues.
Dawn April 24, 2012 at 07:19 PM
the main problem here "increased state pension costs for local school boards" if you're not in a union in the USA you are basically screwed over, oh, unless of course you manage to make it into the top 1% of the population
Jakers April 24, 2012 at 08:30 PM
The right wing continues to attack, cut, and demonize anyone that supports education in this country! If the cuts to education continue the younger workforce will have less technical skills, for companies to hire from! An example of this is my home state of WI. Jobs are leaving for Illinois because companies know that the culture in Illinois, promotes technical education! Buisness leaders know that u need a technically trained workforce for the future, and right now in WI, we got a leader that advocates cutting education! all for the sake of saving a few taxpayer dollars! The cost for the future of WI, will be far far greater! May God Bless our Teachers!
gongdark April 24, 2012 at 08:37 PM
to shecky vegas You've obviously nailed mr. boob but in his own style. Saying anal orifice would be classier and still leave him pondering the meaning.
Jakers April 24, 2012 at 08:42 PM
You sound like a Right Winger! Do U think, that education should, not be funded in this country! When that happens, and these companies turn towards educated workers outside the U.S., U will be complaining, that all the foreigners are taking our jobs!
aword April 24, 2012 at 09:13 PM
You can feed this monster until it explodes and it will just multiply. Ownership of homes in America will become a thing for the rich only. I pay property taxes of 6,000 a year in a area where the median pay is 32,000 a year. I don't get health care, I don't pensions I don't have a job, it takes a act of congress to get fired from. Sorry maybe we need to go back to what school was designed for . The ABC's. and stop with the million dollar pools and library designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. 6 million dollar remodels. We had two schools in our town of 65,000 remodeled at the tune of 6 million and they both mysteriously burned down the day they were finished. To the ground. Unions stick together. Unions are great but not when it attacted to a tax payers home to get paid.
Judy April 25, 2012 at 01:22 AM
I thought this was discussed last night. Didn't the Board point out that even if EIT is introduced, they have to reduce their income from other taxes dollar for dollar so there is no increase to the school budget.
Jan T April 25, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Just think what could happen if everyone opened their checkbook for things that need to be done in our communities instead of complaining about taxes.
Lori May 31, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Let me guess, - you are a teacher. You don't get it. Everyone has to sacrifice and make cuts. You cannot have it your way all the time.

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