Legislature has district’s hands tied
As district personnel choices are being made for next year, the Baldwin Board of Education remains at the hands of the Kansas Legislature and its education funding decision.
"It's hard to begin to look at where we might need to go until we see what kind of funding increase the Legislature might produce," Supt. James White said. "There have been several different plans that's have been discussed in the Legislature. Right now they are kind of at ground zero and starting over during the veto session."
At Monday's school board meeting, White presented a list of staffing needs for next year in the district. If the district could hire all of those positions, it would cost approximately $317,000.
"I think the board's intent is to try and work down the list as money is made available," White said. "We have 10 or 12 items on that list and they are all needs that certainly our buildings could use with additional staff. We will just have to wait and see what the funding will do for us."
Board Member Ande Parks asked White if the board had to wait on the Legislature. White responded, saying every district is in the same situation.
"I don't know that we can do anything else," White said. "You see in the paper every day, that Lawrence can't do anything. We are in the same boat as every other district."
The personnel list included several new positions, along with a couple positions that were filled this semester. Also on the list was the School Resource Officer.
Board President Lonnie Broers was concerned about paying the full cost for the SRO and not being able to control the hours the officer would spend in the district.
White said the city and the district are still discussing the SRO and who would pay for it.
"Connie Wright has been our point person on that," White said. "She's indicated that she's discussed with Chief (Mike) McKenna the need for perhaps a second SRO. We would be supportive, if we could find the funding for it. We have to fund teaching and learning positions first. That's the reason it wasn't as high on our list of personnel items."
Again the discussion on personnel revolved around state funding and the Legislature's delay.
"That's what it is all about right now," Broers said about waiting on the state. "They (Legislature) have put it off until the very last thing again this year and now it's going to be a wait. It's unfortunate for us, because we would really like to know what we are going to have to work with next year."
Despite the budget troubles, the board approved the hiring of two employees for next year. Baldwin High School counselor Natalie Schmidt, who was hired in December, will continue to work there next year.
Becky Florance, Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center extended learning teacher, was hired as a BESIC fourth grade teacher for next year. Those were the only action items after executive session for teacher evaluations.
Also after executive session, the board again chose not to renew BHS Principal Allen Poplin's contract with a 5-1 vote. Broers voted to renew the contract and Board Member Blaine Cone was absent at the meeting.
The vote came after the board met with Poplin during the private session.
"It's a law that requires us to do that," Broers said. "He (Poplin) requested a meeting and we responded. Then after that, we have to vote again."
White said the board must allow Poplin a chance to convince the board to let him stay another year.
"When you vote on it the first time, you inform the administrator that your plan is not to renew his or her contract," White said. "You have to tell him or her of that intent, then he or she has the opportunity to request a hearing before the board on the reasons why they chose not to renew his contract.
"After that hearing, then you can take final action on not renewing, or the board could continue his contract," White said. "That hearing gives the administrator the option to present their case for staying in the district. Then the board takes final action."
During the meeting, BHS Athletic Director Gary Stevanus presented the school board with a plan to begin purchasing new uniforms again. The plan was a four-year rotation, different from the previous five-year plan.
The board also approved the republishing of its budget with a 6-0 vote. The republished budget would allow the district to have the extra money from the state's audit.
The board's policy review was tabled until next meeting, because of the length of Monday's meeting.
"If we would have had the policy review, we would have probably been here another two hours," Broers said. "At this time of night, things get long and people really don't have a lot of attention."
The next scheduled school board meeting is at 7 p.m. May 8 at the District Office. White said the board might have another meeting before that date.
"I think we may have to have a meeting to look at some additional personnel items in late April," White said. "We'll just see how that works out."