Archive for Thursday, March 10, 2005

Is MSES on block?

March 10, 2005

Many Marion Springs Elementary School families and supporters came to Monday's school board meeting to add their opinion on whether the building should be closed to help the district's budget.

The meeting was a special meeting to discuss next year's budget. One of the hot topics was the possibility of closing MSES.

"If we have a budget where we have no increase in funding, we would have to look at extreme measures, and that would be one," School Board President Ed Schulte said of closing MSES.

Around 45 people showed up to voice their opinions on the issue. Some of the topics discussed were the cost of MSES versus Vinland Elementary School, the time for students on buses and the hassle for parents.

Superintendent James White was pleased with the turnout and discussion at the meeting.

"That's the reason we have those meetings, is for people to share those ideas," White said. "If they've thought about it and taken the time to come up with good ideas, that really helps us make a better decision for the district."

One of the larger points discussed was why MSES was being targeted and not VES. The school board displayed a listing of all the costs of both schools to help compare the two.

A couple of the major outliers was the high cost of supplies at MSES and the electricity costs at VES. MSES spent over $15,000 more than VES did on supplies, while VES spent over $5,000 more than MSES on electricity.

VES Principal Bill Scott said some of the electricity costs are due to the Baldwin Recreation Commission using the VES gym on nights and weekends.

In the year, VES spent more than $28,000 than MSES, but most of that is from salaries.

Aside from the comparing schools, parents from MSES also had problems with the idea of their children attending a different school.

"My daughter gets to go to school with her neighbor down the street, and down the street is a long ways," Laura Linder said. "It makes is more of a community."

Doug Jamison said he is concerned about closing the school, because he has seen it too often in western Kansas, where he used to live.

"You should be very careful about closing Marion Springs or Vinland, because when you do close that down, you are closing a community," Jamison said. "You've lost a valuable community in not only that area, but the Baldwin area. I know this being from western Kansas."

The other point of discussion regarding MSES was the transportation. Many people are concerned about the time the children will be riding the bus before and after school.

"If we do this, we need to look at how much time kids would be on the buses and what the cost savings would be," Schulte said.

Darlene Schwarz, a district bus driver, said having children on bus for a long time is not good.

"You don't know what it's like to bus children for over an hour," Schwarz said. "It's not a good thing, especially in bad weather."

Tracie Pope said if her children were to change schools, they would be forced to wake up earlier, thus causing them to get drowsy earlier.

"From a mother's point of view, getting my children up 30 to 45 minutes earlier to catch a bus is not a good idea," Pope said. "They might fall asleep or have to miss breakfast."

There was no decisions made on this topic at the meeting, but the budget will be continually discussed in the upcoming months.

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