With a statement designed to punctuate his qualifications, Tredyffrin/Easttown School Superintendent Dan Waters and members of the school board gave a ringing endorsement to the man Waters chose to conduct a safety audit of T/E Schools.
Following questions raised by bloggers and some members of the community about how Andrew Chambers was hired for the job, the T/E School Board took an unusual, but not unprecedented, re-consideration vote on his appointment Monday night (June 28).
School Superintendent comes out swinging in support of Chambers
Before the vote, Waters offered an emphatic endorsement of the former Tredyffrin Police Superintendent. During his speech Waters reiterated comments he made a public meeting on school safety earlier this month and at other board meetings since. Reciting a long list of Chambers' qualifications for the job, including extensive FBI, SWAT, and hazardous situation training and local experience, Waters stood by his man and his decision. Waters says the former Tredyffrin Police chief, who retired as head of the TTPD in December 2011, brings 30 years of insutitutional knowledge of the T/E Schools that no other consultant has.
Water says Chambers also has the full support of the current Tredyffrin Police Superintendent and the Chief of Easttown Police. Both departments have worked closely with the school district for many years, starting when Chambers was with the Tredyffrin Police Department.
Waters also told Monday's meeting that Chambers appointment has the full support and endorsement of Chester County District Attorney (and former Tredyffrin Township Solicitor) Tom Hogan.
School Board Presdient explains why $125/Hour is a bargain.
Board President Kevin Buraks joined virtually every other member of school board in haiing the decision to hire Chambers as a consultant. Buraks says Chambers $125 per hour fee is actually about half of what other consultants have charged for security-related reports in previous years. Buraks and several other board members pointed out that even at $125/hour Chambers is a bargain.
Board Member and former Board President Karen Cruikshank said "he knows every door and window in every school building" in the district adding the decision to hire Chambers is "a no-brainer."
One speaker put $125/hour rate in perspective this way.
Chambers got broad support from members of the public who spoke on the matter. Chambers is expected to earn about $10,000 for the anticipated 100 hours the report will take to put together. One speaker pointed out that "In a $100m school budget it's about 0.000125%" of the district's operating budget.
Buraks said the fact that Chambers is so familiar with the school buildings and culture will save the district 40-50 hours in time that another consultant would need just to get up to speed on T/E Schools.
The board took the vote after some bloggers and commenters in the online "blogoshphere" had raised questions about whether School Superintendent Waters and the board had properly vetted Chambers, who was hired in the days following the school shooting massacre in Newtown, CT.
Chambers' appointment to the hourly and temporary position was approved as part of a consent agenda during the board's regular meeting earlier in January.
The school board's lawyer told the public that the hiring and board vote was conducted legally and properly, but that out of a concern and desire to be completely transparent the board was taking the reconsideration vote Monday night.
Chambers was present for the school board procedings Monday night, the first time he had been so visible at a School Board meeting since his hiring was first announced.
Board members Anne Crowley and Richard Brake voted against the hiring, emphasizing their concern was not over Chambers' qualifications, but over appearances surrounding board transparency in the hiring process.
Chambers is expected to start work in the coming days. At least part of his report will be kept confidential to insure security in the schools and to avoid revealing some of the safety and security measures that could be implemented.