Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Letters to the editor

June 18, 2003

Dear Patrons of USD 348:

Now that the School Board has a target of $307,000 in budget reductions, I would urge you to contact board members and voice your concerns as to why suggested cuts to administrative costs in USD 348 were rejected by Supt. James White when he wrote in his "Budget Discussion" paper,

4. Administrative costs could be reduced. I have reviewed all administrative positions. The district is being well served by the administrators now under contract compared to like sized districts. Building administrators in the district are in the middle of the salary range for schools in our league. Administrators in the district consist of a principal and assistant principal for a high school of 425 students and 38 teachers; a principal and assistant principal for a junior high with 330 students and 27 teachers; a principal and assistant principal for an elementary school with 443 students and 33 teachers; a half-time principal for an elementary school with 96 students and 12 teachers; and a half-time principal for an elementary building with 93 students and 11 teachers. These administrative positions provide academic and disciplinary support for our schools that provides the structured environment necessary for above average academic achievement.

While our salaries may well be in the "middle of the salary range," the Kansas Association of School Boards ranks USD 348 second highest in cost of administrators in all of District I and third highest in overall administrative costs, including support staff. It is generally far more useful for purposes of comparison to look at the administrative costs per pupil for the district as a whole. Allow me to illustrate those costs with figures collected by Principal Connie Wright and provided to the board by Supt. White during the working Board meeting on June 2. These numbers are for salaries of principals and assistant principals only.

The average administrative cost (salary of principals and assistant principals) per student in USD 348 and nearby districts or districts of similar size is as follows: Louisburg, $198; Eudora, $264; Spring Hill, $291; Wellsville, $324; Anderson County, $328; Prairie View, $378; and USD 348, $392.

Even more troubling with regard to administrative costs is information regarding some USD 348 administrators that changes from meeting to meeting. Case in point, until June 2, Mr. White continued to boast that we have two full time rural principals doing the jobs of one and a half people by also teaching physical education part-time. Yet Mr. White wrote above, "Administrators in the district consist of ...a half-time principal for an elementary school with 96 students and 12 teachers; and a half-time principal for an elementary building with 93 students and 11 teachers." So, what are Scott and Wegner? Are they full time principals with plenty of time on their hands to be able to teach half time also or have Scott and Wegner been half-time all along with a status change prompted by the glare of scrutiny? Their salaries are much more aligned with the full time principals than with half-time principals.

Even though there is a discrepancy in the numbers of students per building in the report created by Principal Wright and the numbers of students per building reported above by the superintendent, the individual building inequities are also quite revealing.

Using the superintendent's enrollment figures quoted above, the average administrative costs (salaries of principals and assistant principals only) per student in each USD 348 building is as follows: BES, $302; BHS, $333; BJHS, $444; VES, $642; and MSES, $747.

It appears to this taxpayer that Baldwin's administrative costs are on the high side when compared to nearby districts and unequal when compared internally. Administrative costs should bear an equal share of the burden of the cuts. The only administrative exception should be BES and BESI principals who already cut their salaries in their buildings' proposed cuts.

Let your board members know your thoughts on cutting administrative costs.

Sincerely,

Betty J. Bullock

Baldwin City

To the editor:

The ABC Group (About Budget Cuts) believes that a solid public education is the foundation to our democracy. We believe that the most eminent responsibility of our school district it to provide for a solid education for all of its students. We believe that as patrons and tax paying citizens, we have the right and the responsibility to question and challenge the decisions our administrators and school board members are making. We strongly believe that cutting teaching positions, reducing academic services and eliminating elementary programs significantly compromises the education of our children.

We have been accused of "fanning the flames," of being a "radical" group trying to "stir up" trouble. Benjamin Franklin was accused of "fanning the flames" when he proposed the idea of free public education for all. Susan B. Anthony was accused of "stirring up" trouble when fighting for a woman's right to vote. Martin Luther King, Jr. was accused of being "radical" for speaking out against racism.

We believe that we must work together as a community with our administration and school board to ensure that the foundation of our democracy be maintained and that a solid education be upheld for all of our children.

In closing, a quote from Margaret Meade seems quite fitting:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Doug Davison

Baldwin City

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