Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

District shame

August 17, 2006

There, we've said it.

Now, more importantly, let's get past it. There are more than enough fingers to point at in the debacle that finds the Baldwin School District in the red $300,000 -- at least.

But, let's make no mistake. Pointing fingers does absolutely no good. This is where we're at.

What counts is how we get out of it. That will take us all. Everyone of us.

Yes, the taxpayers will bear the brunt of making up for mismanagement. And, yes, that means those who don't have children in school. It's a fact of life.

But, those parents are going to be doing more than their fair share, too. They've already paid the enrollment fees, bought books, paid for activities, etc., etc., in addition to outfitting sons and/or daughters in not only school clothes, but whatever extras for athletics, band, etc. That's football cleats or cheerleading uniforms. It's whatever. Those people are tapped out.

However, there's need for more help. Sports and activities, for example, don't have budgets this year. Zero. Zip. Nada. What's going to fund them? From all appearances to us, it will be the upcoming Baldwin Bash, Rick Weaver's brainchild that is seven years old now, believe it or not.

Parents will support their children, again, by purchasing their Bash tickets from their group. For those without children, support the program that means the most by purchasing tickets from them.

It's not much, but it's all we can do right now. There will be more sacrifices down the road, too, we're sure.

That includes a tax increase for next year. There can be no mistaking that. It will be a one-time mill levy jump to recoup the funds that were basically "lost" in this past year.

In addition to overspending, one of the biggest problems with the budget was not getting reimbursements from the state for legitimate expenses, such as gas for the buses. That's been fixed, too.

The oversight on the public notice for the Capital Outlay Fund is being fixed. Credit cards have been cut. Business practices throughout the district have been adjusted. The list goes on and on.

It needs to.

This is unacceptable and all those who were involved know it. It wasn't one person. It wasn't two or three. It wasn't even seven. It was way too many hands to count. In fact, that's what the auditor is still trying to do.

Although it is mind boggling to know this has happened, it's a simple fact -- it did. We won't even say we told you so, although we've been told by more than one school official we should.

If there's a silver lining, it's that we all learned right away just how sharp and just how good new Superintendent of Schools Paul Dorathy is. We can only guess the horror he felt as he went through the books and kept finding more and more problems. We applaud his actions of getting an auditor and getting to the bottom of what a mess he inherited from James White, who retired from the Baldwin District in June, but has since taken a job in another Kansas school district.

Dorathy has been upfront, honest and open about the state of our school district. We owe him a big thanks. The school board owes him a big thanks.

Now, let's get behind him and get this heap of stinking garbage cleaned up.

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