Archive for Thursday, November 16, 2006

Letters to the Editor

November 16, 2006

To the editor:

I am writing this letter in an effort to relay some concerns and observations that I have regarding the needs of our children and teachers in the Baldwin school district. I shared my concerns with the school board at their meeting Monday night, but I would also like to reach out to other parents in this district who feel that it is time to take action. Let's stop talking about what we need and let's actually do something about it.

First and foremost, I feel that I need to make it clear that this is not just about the ball field project for me, although that was the reason that I initially got involved. It was April 2004 when the city, Baldwin City Recreation Commission and the school district first sat down to discuss the possibility of new ball fields in Baldwin City, and at that time, it was hoped that eventual financing for the project would be provided by a district bond issue that would include several other needs in the district, such as technology upgrades, additional facilities, and building repairs. It was my understanding that while we were working on a plan and design for the ball fields, that the district would identify and assess the other needs throughout the district. As you can clearly see from one visit to the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center, we have a site cleared and ready for development of the ball field project, but after two and a half years we still have no real handle on what the other needs in the district even are or what they are going to cost. For example, as recently as Monday's meeting, the Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center site council was still asking for help regarding needed repairs for their building.

It had been suggested by a board member at a meeting several months ago that a bond issue for the district wait until spring 2008. I'm sorry, but I find that completely unacceptable. Not only does the ball field site sit idle until that time, but it is our kids and our teachers, everyday, who do without in our schools. I used the example Monday night of one parent I spoke with whose son recently took a computer class at the high school. The teacher wasn't able to complete the class because our computers couldn't support the necessary software. If we are this far behind now, how far behind will we be by the spring of 2008? And not only that, but how much more will these improvements cost in the spring of 2008?

I know the school board has financial concerns with the recent budget issues, and I believe that our board members feel a personal sense of responsibility, which I find both appropriate and admirable. However, let me just propose that we not become paralyzed by this and overcompensate by doing nothing. I think that is the worst possible thing that we can do for our schools right now. I feel that our school board and new superintendent have addressed these issues and made changes where necessary, so rather than place blame and dwell on this issue, let's move on. The needs of this district have not magically disappeared, and the longer we wait, the greater those needs become.

Naturally, there is concern regarding the timing and public support of a bond issue. I believe, however, that we live in a community that, when informed and educated on this subject, will choose to support our schools. I ask that the board give this community the benefit of the doubt. Please don't decide for me, as a parent, to put off improvements that will benefit my child's educational experience, both in and out of the classroom. We have some fantastic teachers and coaches in this district. Let's give them the tools and the resources that they need to do their jobs. Who benefits from that? Everyone.

We made a choice 13 years ago to live in Baldwin City, and we love living here. There are certain "conveniences" that one gives up by living in a small community, and I understand that fact and I gladly accept it. But there is definitely a limit to the sacrifices that we are willing to make when it comes to opportunities for our kids. If you share this opinion and will support our school board in their efforts to improve the quality of education in our schools, they need to hear from you. Please ask them to form a committee that will identify and evaluate the improvements we need in order to make this district one we can all be proud of. Go Bulldogs.\

Amy Cleavinger

Baldwin City, KS

To the editor:

I am writing this letter for all those parents whose sons are interested in playing Baldwin Junior High School football. My son played seventh grade football this year. He is a good athlete, so much so that the coaches gave him the ball 24 of 37 offensive plays the first game (65 percent) and 19 of 31 offensive plays in the second game (61 percent). During the halftime of the second game I commented to another parent that the coaches were setting my son up for injury. I am no prophet, but unfortunately, on the last play of the second game my son was seriously injured, torn ACL and two tears in the meniscus of his left knee.

While my son was lying out in the middle of the field, the coaches left the bench to shake hands with the other team. I was left to go out onto the field and carry my son to the bench. One of the coaches later came back, told me he didn't think it was serious and gave him some ice. Instead of making any arrangements to help my son off the field, the coaches left for the eighth grade game. Another parent and I carried my son off the field and up the hill in Louisburg to get to my car.

I have heard absolutely nothing from any of the junior high football coaches since then. I believed the school district had insurance of some sort to cover injuries like this, but no one ever contacted me to let me know about it. I went to the athletic director three days after the game in which my son was injured and, unbelievably, the coaches had not even reported the injury. I did get the proof of claim form and am in the process of preparing my claim. (The total bill is going to be in the $10,000 - $15,000 range with six months of rehab.)

After about four weeks I went to the junior high office to obtain a copy of the incident report, which I assumed the coaches had completed and submitted. Unbelievably the coaches never turned in an incident or injury report. Nor had they ever called me to inquire about his injury or to offer any assistance in recovery, rehab, school work, etc.

Following my visit, to get the non-existent injury report, I was confronted by one of the coaches in the parking lot asking if I wanted to talk. I told him I was pretty angry at the moment that he hadn't called in four weeks. He had the gall to tell me that the phone worked both ways and I could have called him. I told him I was going to the school board meeting that evening, but he replied he had a concert to attend. (I later left a message that I wanted to talk to the coach after the band finished with their halftime show at a football game. He didn't stick around to talk and never called me to set up another time.)

I went to the school board meeting on Oct. 11 and expressed my frustration that it appeared to me that the junior high football coaches obviously don't care about injured athletes. I also shared that there had been three other boys with season-ending injuries (all broken arms) and the coaches never followed up with them either or offered insurance information.

My son finally had surgery on Oct. 20, which lasted more than five hours. I would have thought the administration would have talked to these coaches and told them about my frustration that they didn't care that my son, or any of the other boys, was hurt under their watch and that they should call me. It has now been eight weeks since my son was injured. Still, not a word from a coach.

It is obvious to me that the junior high football coaches don't care about the boys that play for them. They have been treated like throw-away athletes. My son will not play for these coaches next year. Keep this in mind as you consider whether your son will play junior high football next year.

David Simmons

Baldwin City

To the editor:

Just today (Veterans Day) I received a huge surprise. The doorbell rang and when I opened the door two smiling teenage girls were standing there. They said, "Thanks for serving our country and helping make our country a safe place to live." They gave me a plate of baked goods and a thank you card.

When I was discharged as an Infantry Sergeant in 1971, I already had a college degree. So the G.I. bill paid my way through chiropractic school. But now 35 years later, thanks to the Pioneers 4-H Club, I can say I have been repaid for my service in full.

Jim Borgeson

Baldwin City

To the editor:

I think we have most everything wrapped up from this year's Maple Leaf Festival.

I would like to take time to say thank you to everyone that helped with this year's Maple Leaf Festival.

That includes: the Baldwin City community; Baldwin City Administration; Baldwin City Police; Baldwin City Public Works Department; Baldwin City Fire Department; Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce; Baldwin State Bank; Reece and Nichols; Baker University; USD 348; Baldwin High School soccer; BHS girl's basketball; all cheer parents; Phi Mu Sorority; Lighthouse Baptist Church; Wellsville Dive and Rescue Team; First United Methodist Church youth group parents; Boy Scout Troop 65; Cub Scout Pack 3065; Teen Challenge; Ottawa Christian School; Lari Jarrett

Ms. Oberheide's third grade class; Ms. Hanson's 5th grade class; Whelan Lumber Company; The Baldwin City Signal; Knute Pittenger and Bill Gray; and, of course. all the committee members that worked all year long. Thank you.

Donna Curran

Chair

Maple Leaf Festival Committee

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