Vote ‘no’ on Nov. 7
To the Editor:
Once again it is time for us to exercise our "right to vote" privilege to make decisions that will affect all of us. Mark Tuesday, Nov. 7 on your calendar as this is the day you will have the freedom and duty to make choices that will determine who our leaders will be and also to vote other important issues that will have a lasting impact on our country and communities.
Patrons of USD 348 will be voting on one of these important issues: should the format of electing school board members be changed to a complete "at large" selection or should the process remain, as originally designed, with board members elected from designated areas to assure equal representation from all geographical parts of the district.
As a long time resident of this school district, I, along with many other patrons, have deep concern about changing a selection procedure which has been in place almost 30 years, and due to the excellent leadership exercised by these elected board members, the schools in USD 348 have been recognized by many as outstanding; our schools are a real source of pride and a great asset to this community. Voters will decide in the upcoming election whether to continue the present format which divides the school district into three representative districts with two board members elected from each representative district. The seventh board member is elected at large regardless of where he/she resides in the district. The changed proposal presented states that all board members would be elected at large. Patrons proposing the change in format are claiming that the new format will give voters more choice at the poll. After attending the board meeting last spring at Vinland, and talking with many patrons of the district, I am not convinced that the new "at large" format would best serve the patrons and children of the school district. Please consider the following factors before casting your vote on Nov. 7.
"At large" selection could result in all seven members living within one area of the district. Our district covers a large area with the city of Baldwin relatively close to the center of the area. Approximate boundaries extend north six miles, south three miles to the county line, four miles east and at least 12 miles west of Baldwin City. Patrons of the district do not share a common media source such as one daily paper. I am aware that a large number of our students do live in the immediate area of Baldwin and if selection was based totally on student population in one area, perhaps this area should have more representation. However, if you consider tax base and financial support, approximately 65 percent comes from the outlying rural areas and the remaining 35 percent from the area immediately surrounding Baldwin City.
As a long time resident (yes, I'm a Senior Citizen) of this area and having always felt that I was and am an active participant in our schools in many facets; parent, teacher, employee, spectator and former board member, I do not want you to think that I oppose the new format just because I am older and can't accept change. Over the last 40 years I have seen and supported many successful changes in our schools. However, "if the tire is not flat, don't change it." I distinctly remember some 35 years ago sitting in the multi-purpose room of the new Marion Springs Building we were justly proud of our new building discussing unification plans of the soon to be unified district that would include our new building and the surrounding area. At that meeting we were presented the present format for electing school board representatives with the assurance by school officials that this format would not be changed and that all areas would always have equal representation. This promise gave the patrons some assurance in this somewhat controversial and emotional situation concerning unification.
Which of you voters has not gone into the voting booth, scanned the list of candidates for an elected position and said to yourself, "I don't recognize any of these names," and you don't vote for any candidate. Name recognition is a vital criteria in our voting process! Look around. Why do candidates spend so much time and money on yard signs? As mentioned before, our district covers a large area and has no common media means that covers the whole district. We need to be extremely aware of these factors and try to have representation from all areas. If we change the selection process to a completely "at large" format, a patron living in the northwest corner could go to vote, scan the ballot, he/she does not recognize a single candidate's name; therefore, he/she does not vote for any candidate. This "no vote" attitude certainly will not encourage patron participation in the school district's decisions.
As stated in "The White Pages" of the October edition of the Baldwin USD 348 Newsletter, there has been some information circulating in the community that is inaccurate. The school district is not in violation of state statute under the current election format. Please do not cast your vote on the question based on inaccurate information.
You have a duty as a registered voter to cast your vote based on the format you think best serves the patrons of our school district. To clarify how you will vote, please study the issue, consider how a change in format might negatively affect equal representation and result in patron dissatisfaction.
On Nov. 7, VOTE NO, if you want to continue with the current format of three member districts with two board members elected from each member district and one board member elected at large.
Remember, unification in USD 348 was originally based on the present election format. Any deviation or change in the format discouraging representation from all areas of the district could have a really negative effect on the word, "unified."
We're all in this for the same reason, OUR KIDS!
Thanks for reading this and VOTE NO Nov. 7!
USD 348 Patron