Don’t overcrowd Baldwin Elementary School
To the Editor:
Recently, Baldwin City USD 348 contracted with a facilities planning firm to address several issues within our district. Baldwin Junior High is at or over capacity, the new high school is nearing capacity as is Baldwin Elementary School. Two interesting facts have surfaced in this process: 1) Baldwin Elementary has the largest enrollment (446) of all the Baldwin schools. Proper districting should result in the high school having the highest enrollment, the junior high next and the grade schools the least; 2) Only two grade schools in Lawrence have higher enrollments than BES.
Research has shown that education opportunities are maximized when the elementary population is between 250 and 350 students. Smaller schools are more likely to nurture a sense of belonging and community and engaging active student involvement. The point I would like to get across is that our school board is in the process of making some key decisions regarding the future of our schools. The path of least resistance is the one that doesn't spend much money and alleviates short-term problems. That could prove to be unfortunate for Baldwin Elementary as well as the entire district. While no solutions have been implemented, the consultant is getting ready to make recommendations. These recommendations must focus on long-term solutions rather than the immediate problems. Any recommendation that increases enrollment in BES would be unfortunate. However, since the town is obviously growing, BES enrollment is going to increase unless something changes in our district.
The BES PTO met last month to discuss this issue with the consultant. The PTO is not, at this time, advocating any particular solution. However, we did, as a group, agree that it is not in our children's best interests to increase BES enrollment. We are asking that all residents, especially those with children in the school, contact the school board and provide input. We ask that you support the BES PTO in lobbying against enrollment increases at our school. Please don't make this a money issue. Money will need to be spent to address our future educational needs. The school board needs to know that the residents want them to make planning decisions that address the needs 10 to 20 years into the future. Additional facilities are probably going to be needed soon. We are all going to have to chip in to ensure Baldwin City maintains an excellent level of education.
Steve C. Sublett
1348 N. 550 Roadl