Archive for Thursday, October 9, 2008

Letters to the Editor

October 9, 2008

To the editor:

Nancy Boyda has broken her promise to reduce the burden on individual taxpayers. She and 30 of her liberal allies in the U.S. House voted against a tax-relief bill, while the rest of the house and Kansas delegation voted for it.

She has campaigned on reducing taxes for middle class family and when the time came to roll back the A.M.T. (alternative minimum tax) Nancy Boyda voted no. The bill Nancy Boyda voted against saves more than 20 million taxpayers from a tax increase averaging about $2,000. Nancy said she did not vote for the bill because it did not fix foreign-tax loopholes, what she didn't say was that she did not offer any amendments to fix those loopholes.

How is Nancy supposed to fight for middle class Kansans when she lacks the leadership to propose amendments to fix things she does not like? She even said that it is “Not rocket science,” if the answer is that simple where was your amendment, Congresswoman?

Nancy has turned her back on Kansans more than once; recently she voted against House Resolution 3221, which increased housing benefits for disabled veterans, made it easier for qualified first-time home buyers to get a mortgage and gave local governments $3.92 billion to redevelop abandoned and foreclosed property. She has received failing grades from budget and tax reform watchdog groups and still maintains that she is working for Kansans.

We sent Nancy Boyda to congress two years ago to be a leading voice for Kansans, and today we are still looking for her leadership.

Wesley Callahan

Baldwin City

To the editor:

I am very happy to report that the “prodigal bonsai” has returned to live with us again! Thanks to an observant individual (or individuals) who provided assistance, our yard will once again play host to this little Chinese Elm.

I want to thank everyone who watched to see where it might turn up, as well as those of you who have spoken with us to offer words of concern and encouragement. A special thanks to the editors of the Baldwin City Signal and Baker Orange who assisted me in alerting everyone that our friend had “wandered” from its perch, and to the Orange staff for calling to inform me that our friend had made an appearance – anonymously – in their office.

It’s now time for me to find a location for it in the ground, allowing rest and recuperation through another Kansas winter. With good fortune, next year will permit us to help our friend return to a place on the bench to enjoy the morning sun and afternoon shade for springtime growth.

Walt Bailey

Baldwin City

To the editor:

As a school board member, as a member of both the facilities and bond issue steering committees, and as a concerned parent, I am writing to make what I know is a difficult argument right now. In our country’s scary economic setting, I am here to argue that now is the best time to invest in the future of our school district.

I know it’s a tough sell. I know these are nervous times. I fully realize the hesitation to pay more taxes, when we’re told on a daily basis how precarious the country’s financial outlook has become. Still, I firmly believe that this time, right now, is the absolute best time to commit to the improvements put forth in this bond.

First, although it has been stated by several others on this same editorial page, I want to say that the items in the bond are necessary improvements. Our facilities committee worked long and hard to whittle the bond down to its current scope. Believe me, we started off with a much more extensive list. What we are presenting the voters with are those items that are needed now to deliver the kind of educational experience our community expects, and our kids deserve.

So... why now, in such an uncertain economic environment? Actually, this is a great time to pass a bond issue. Here’s why:

1- Interest Rates- Interest rates are low right now. As the economy improves, they will start to creep up. Every tenth of a point in interest makes a huge difference. Our bond financial advisor has been very conservative in computing the cost of the bond over the 20-year life of the loan. As currently presented, the bond will cost a homeowner with a $200,000 home $20 per month. If we were able to lock in interest rates where they are right now, we could save that homeowner about five bucks a month. That is a huge savings that could go away if we delay.

2- Cost of Materials- Even in the current, sluggish American building market, the cost of building materials is going up. China is competing with us for steel, copper and other materials. Overall materials costs are increasing by between 6 percent and 8 percent per year. Our district needs these improvements, and they are never going to be cheaper than they are right now.

3- Bid Savings- While materials are going up, there are bargains to be had in the current building downturn when it comes to construction bids. Contractors are hungry right now, and will be until the economy starts to bounce back. We can save money if we act now, by gathering more competitive bids from contractors who are eager to work.

4- Long Term Savings- If the bond issue passes this November, we will not begin paying on it for another full year. No one knows how long the economic downturn will last, but most experts predict that we will bottom out within the next year or so. By acting now, we lock in a historically low rate. We pay nothing until November of 2009. Even if the economy doesn’t bottom out for another year after that, we will have bought ourselves 19 years of lower payments by acting now.

Again, speaking as someone who has worked long and hard on this bond proposal, I do not come before my community asking for a financial commitment easily or without careful consideration. We live in frightening times. We cannot afford, however, to be shortsighted. By acting now, we can save ourselves a lot of money over the next two decades. These needs are not going away, and they will never be more affordable than they are right now.

Ande Parks

Baldwin City

To the editor,

There has been a great deal of conversation and written comment about the USD 348 Bond Issue. I would like to add several more thoughts and pieces of information.

Bond money has not been spent on the Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center facility since it was constructed in 1956. In 1982 six classrooms were added using capital outlay money. The primary center could be renovated at an estimated cost of $8 million dollars.

The more pressing problems, space for instruction, space for storage, student play areas, student safety, and changes in how we are expected to “do school in 2008” would however still remain even after renovation. In the 52 years since the primary center was constructed there have been at least 20 programs of different types, some general education, and some special education, added to elementary public education. Each of those programs requires space; space for the staff working in the program, space for the materials associated with that program, space for the students to be when working with the staff of that program.

There is an expectation in 2008 that schools will provide for the needs of children from birth through high school. USD 348 has a variety of program offerings for parents of young children. But because there is no place that houses all of those programs and the staff have little opportunity to see each other, work together, share what they do with each other, there is no “continuum of service” from birth to entry into kindergarten.

Elementary schools need more than just classroom spaces. They need spaces for small groups of learners to work; they need spaces where a grade level can meet. Primary age students should have areas within the classroom for different types of activities.

Elementary schools need storage space for all the materials that teachers have to provide valuable educational experiences for students. This storage space should be easily and safely accessible to staff so that as they need materials they have them available. We have maxed out our available storage spaces at the primary center.

Safe outside play areas for organized games, play structures, soft surface areas, hard surface areas, fields, should all be available and available at times that work for the students rather than when recess fits into a schedule. Play areas should be free of vehicle traffic.

Students should be able to access the cafeteria easily and safely. Primary center students eat breakfast and lunch in the basement of the district office building. The cafeteria has a low ceiling so it feels more crowded than it actually is and is much louder than it should be. Many of the basement walls are crumbling because of water intrusion at various points in time (each time there is a big, hard, fast Kansas gully washer). The kitchen is not energy efficient, poses safety issues for workers and needs thorough modernization.

The art room in the basement is a great space, but because of water intrusion over the years, it has mold and mildew issues. The computer lab, also in the basement, has had issues with water, and therefore mold and mildew.

There is space available on the third floor of the district office building. That space is up three flights of stairs and down at the west end of the building. There are no restrooms on the third floor, so it is not ADA compliant. The stairs and lack of restrooms pose difficult problems for young children, which makes those spaces inappropriate for use by the primary center.

Anyone who has been at the primary center to drop off or pick up a student knows about the student safety issues involved. Too many cars, too many people in a hurry, too many people who have difficulty following traffic laws. Baker University has added a parking lot across the street from the primary center that has increased traffic and reduced available parking. The buses drop students off before school and pick them up after school on the playground in order to keep bus and car traffic separated.

The primary center is frequently used by different outside groups. Baldwin City Recreation Commission provides before and after school care for K-5 students. BCRC conducts adult classes Monday through Thursday evenings at the primary center. Many Scout groups hold den, pack and troop meetings here. Storage being an issue, these groups must pack up everything and bring/take it with them each time.

Without the passage of this bond, several programs housed now in the primary center will be eliminated or moved to portables on the playground. Without the passage of this bond, renovations will take place but capital outlay money already budgeted for technology, security, buses, etc. will be used to pay for the renovations. Without the passage of this bond, class sizes will have to increase to accommodate the slowly growing primary center enrollment.

The bond vision is for an inclusive early childhood education experience for the kids of USD 348. Try to envision a place where parents can get what they need for their child from birth to age 4 through Parents As Teachers; a place where the needs of pre-school kids are met through a variety of school possibilities – PAT playgroups, Rainbow Preschool, PEP, 4-year-old classes. Also envision a place where those services that are countywide services (but can only be accessed in Lawrence because there is a lack of space available in Baldwin) could be housed and made available to the community. Envision a place where the early childhood teachers work collaboratively across programs to provide the absolute best education for the children of USD 348.

Each voter on Nov. 4 will be voting for something – a “no” vote is a vote for keeping facilities the way they are in USD 348, even though the needs have changed; a “yes” vote is a vote for meeting the changed and changing needs of your schools.

Deb Ehling-Gwin

BESPC principal

To the Editor,

As we approach Nov. 4, and the opportunity to invest in one of our most important assets, I ask that the voters throughout this school district recognize the impact quality schools and school facilities have on a community. While this bond issue is about the students, we would be naïve to believe that an improvement to our schools doesn’t benefit all of us. Will it require sacrifice? Yes. Most good investments do. What better reason than the education of our children? Yes, I know. That reason should stand on its own, but in the event you need some other things to consider:

Aside from the obvious and statistically proven link between school environment and student achievement, improved facilities will bring events, opportunities and people to town that we currently turn away. I would encourage anyone to visit with our performing arts teachers and have them explain to you the numerous competitions and performances that we could host in a new facility. Do you realize that college bands and choirs who come to Baldwin City to recruit our students cannot even use the stage because of its size? Ask any of the baseball or softball coaches in town what it would mean to them to be able to host a tournament, or if the high school teams would like to be allowed to hold post-season play on their own fields. The list goes on and on. Not having the facilities to accommodate these events means that we send busloads of kids (and their parents) to the surrounding communities and we spend our money there instead. It really is that simple.

Over the past six years, I’ve had the opportunity to hear your concerns regarding property taxes, utility rates, the need to expand our tax base, and to attract business and new families to town. I encourage you to visit with the business groups and economic development groups in our neighboring communities and ask them to explain the relationship between a quality school system and the economic health and development of a community. They fully grasp the concept that the two work hand in hand as partners who share a common goal: a healthy, vibrant, desirable community. They understand that one cannot thrive without the other. We would be wise to understand that if we display a lack of commitment to our schools, we will be hard pressed to find that relief for our businesses and homeowners. Make the connection.

I’ve also listened to numerous complaints regarding the condition of our schools, the maintenance (or lack thereof) of our school facilities, even anger over decisions made many years ago by the school district. Please know that we gain nothing by dwelling on the past. It’s time to let it go. It’s time to stop talking and act on the future of this district. Walk the walk on Nov. 4. Vote yes.

Amy Cleavinger

Vote Kids First, Committee Chair

To The Editor:

It is my pleasure to commend Roger Pine to the voters of this area as one who can represent us best in the Kansas Senate over the next four years. There are many reasons for my choice, the more important ones being these: (1) He is well known and respected by the majority of the members with whom he has served for the recent past. Therefore when an issue that concerns our area comes before the legislature, he will have the ears and votes of the majority of his house. (2) He has been a member of several key committees in the legislature, among them being the tax committee, the education committee, the Legislative Education Planning Committee, as a member of the Senate Utilities Committee, and he is currently serving as vice-chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. All of those bodies are a key to legislation affecting us.

Roger has the support and endorsement of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansans for Life, the small business organizations of the state, and the personal support of the president and the majority leader of the Senate. In the recent past, Roger has been among the Senate majority that has been heard in the legislative halls of Kansas.

Why would we change a proven member of the Senate for one who would have very little real clout in that body? We need a senator who has the powerful weight of the majority on his side. For the past several years that majority has been in the range of 30 to 10, and it is not likely to change very much in the coming election. We need to return Roger to his seat as our senator. Thank you for joining me in voting for him on Nov. 4.

Ralph Tanner

Baldwin City

To the editor:

Well, the weather was good, the food was good, the friends and family were good and the win was even better.

The Bash IX survived the commandeering of new recruits at the helm. The Baldwin High School Booster Club was given the opportunity to keep this sacred and trusted community picnic alive. Some volunteers were familiar with certain aspects of making a large machine like the Bash run smoothly, while others, like myself, were so clueless that the whodunits on the game, Clue, were laughing hysterically. Still we pulled it off and other than those within our small circle, no one even knew if there were teeth gnashing, hair pulling, blood-curdling screams about the things we messed up.

I do want to take the time to thank a few people for their time, hard work and patience as we molded together and made the Bash — another good-time, family-oriented, community gathering event — memorable: Peggy and Jeff Beecher, Carrie Enick, Julie and Scott Tuley, Susan England, Tanya Moore, Kim Farrell and the Baldwin Booster Club members. These people took on certain aspects of the Bash and handled them as if they had done so as long as Rick Weaver and his cronies did (with deep respect).

I also have several other people to thank for their support in making this event happen. Without the donations from these people and businesses, the event could never take place: Arrowhead Hardware, Cool Cat Liquor, Callahan Liquor, Frank Foye and Santa Fe Market, Baker University and employees, Susan Hoffman, Baldwin USD 348 employees, Baldwin Athletics Club, Companion Animal Hospital, MidAmerica Bank, Kansas State Bank, Baldwin State Bank, Baldwin City Recreation Commission, Auburn Pharmacy, Founder’s Bookstore (BU), Baldwin Youth Football Parents, Phi MU sorority, Delta Tau Delta fraternity, Terry Baker, Franklin County Insurance, The Lodge, Cordoba’s, Taco Bell, Heritage Tractor, Laura McCall and the Baldwin Junior High School Student Council, Mike Spielman and the Baldwin High School cross country team, Knights of Columbus, Baldwin City Market, Don Schwartz, City of Baldwin City street crew. To those I may have inadvertently left off, my deepest apologies.

I also want to thank Rick Weaver for his countless e-mails and reminders that helped us pull this off and his driving by the day of, to salute and (I feel fairly confident in saying this) laugh after he drove away. Who else would know how ungodly crazy any of us must be than someone who has been there, done that.

Several communities recognize Baldwin City as the pioneer of the Bash. Some have even attempted to copy us. Gardner-Edgerton’s feeble attempt this year was totally washed away (literally and physically, as the heaven’s opened up on it).

The Baldwin High School groups who sold tickets were able to raise more than $4,600 to help offset their expenses.

To Baldwin and her residents, don’t let this drop. You have something great that has been handed to you. Something you don’t get in Kansas City, New York, Los Angeles or Dallas. You got the Bash.

Kelly Garrison

Booster Club Member

Bash Coordinator

Comments

Torch 6 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Parks:

The reason this is a tough sell is because it's a stupid move.

Especially ignorant is the argument that 'we'll get a deal' because contractors are looking for work.

Just like the rest of us they're looking for INCOME. They're going to make their money no matter what you say, and because of that there will be cuts in other places - materials, quality of labor, planning, etc.

I've seen a lot of members of the school district standing up and shouting how much we need this. I haven't talked to a single parent who agrees.

Ms Cleavinger:

'Vote Kids First' is so trite and over-used that I can't believe you lowered yourself to using it. Though the truth is the slogan can be used against you too - I say 'Vote Kids First - let us keep our money in our pocket so we can put clothes on their backs.'

The USD 348 Mafia needs to get its collective head out of the clouds and realize that now is NOT the time to do this. Let's wait a couple of years and see how things shake out with the economy. Let's do what everyone else does in tough times - tighten our belts and weather the storm.

Ant or Grasshopper? It appears our leadership wants to be grasshoppers.

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oldschool 6 years, 2 months ago

Congratulations Bulldog Boosters for continuing the success of the BASH. Many kudo's for a job well done. Baldwin will hopefully continue this tradition long into the future.

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Bloggerboo 6 years, 2 months ago

You haven't spoken to a single parent who supports this, Torch? Maybe you should leave the house once in a while. You sound so bitter with your every post, that it really is almost sad. But, if you are so right on about all that, I guess you have nothing to worry about...but, then why do you keep posting on here?

My other question for you, Torch, is you keep saying wait a couple years, but will you really be behind this then if the economy is much better? Somehow, I doubt it. You are a naysayer, a non-believer in this district, and never willing to pay your share to help education prosper.

You'll twist what I've said around on me, I'm sure. But, I post here to prevent misinformation, and make sure everyone who has a vote, knows the facts before they make a decision. You spread lies and misinformation and fear, and I'll be here to rebut your crap every single time you post, Torch.

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Justask 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm a parent of two children in USD 348 and I support this bond.

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beevo 6 years, 2 months ago

Baldwin City Signal (Letters to the Editor) - Oct. 09, 2008 Ande Parks - As a school board member, as a member of both the facilities and bond issue steering committees, and as a concerned parent… I am here to argue that now is the best time to invest in the future of our school district.

Some Newspaper Headlines on Oct. 09, 2008

The Flint Journal - And the Debt Clock Says, "Time to kiss your future goodbye"

p>Breitbart.com - No Bottom In Sight On Wall St..

Associated Press - Dow Closes Below 10,000 for a Four Year Low

Associated Press - Dow Plunges More Than 678 to Fall Below 9,000

The Wall Street Journal - As the Financial Crisis Continues to Worsen. The Treasury Department is considering ways to inject capital directly into banks,…

The Wall Street Journal - Sign of the Times: National Debt Clock Runs Out of Digits The national debt clock, the unofficial tracker of the federal deficit maintained by the Durst Organization in New York, has reached its limits. Last month, as the national debt exceeded $10 trillion for the first time, the clock ran out of digits to record the number

Reuters - Dow Falls Below 9,000; Credit Worries Hammer Wall Street U.S stocks fell for a seventh straight session on Thursday, with the Dow sliding below 9,000 for the first time in more than five years, as investors worried recent moves by authorities worldwide to thaw frozen credit markets might not be enough to avert a global recession.

Reuters - GM Shares Drop to 58-year Low, Global Risks Eyed General Motors Corp shares fell to their lowest level since 1950 on Thursday as concerns mounted that an industry decline that started in the United States was spreading ….

Drudge Report - The Dow Losses Another 7% A wave of fear about the economy sent stocks lower late in the final two hours of trading after a volatile start to a day in which major indicators like the Dow and the S&P 500 index bobbed up and down.

Bloomberg - U.S. Treasury May Buy Stakes in Banks Within Weeks The government is planning to buy stakes in a wide range of banks within weeks as the credit freeze increasingly threatens to tip the U.S. economy into a deep recession.

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bc 6 years, 2 months ago

Torch, the board members and teachers you speak of are most likely parents as well. I will also second that I'm a parent who supports the bond issue.

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Bloggerboo 6 years, 2 months ago

Beevo, push the panic button! Quickly!

Regardless of the economic situation, I know two things: 1) economic depressions and recessions only last so long, and 2) kids will always need an education and facilities and teachers.

Now go stuff your mattress and fill the cookie jar. That will surely lead us out of this.

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NanCrisp 6 years, 2 months ago

How many real estate auction signs do you want to see in FireTree this year? People, get real. I mean, really get real. This is not a garden-variety recession. We haven't even hit bottom and none of the experts can even predict when we will. Those who are speculating that we're near the bottom mean that we're near the bottom on the stock market. We will still have many, many months of fall-out as companies try to recouperate. There will be more lay-offs and it's definitely going to get worse before it gets better.

It's unfortunate that B.C. didn't do this bond issue a year ago. But to march ahead with it because we feel "entitled" is just the kind of thinking that has this nation in the mess it is in.

Most unfortunate of all is the nagging fact that we had our chance 5 years ago when everyone was flush with cash and jobs and we had a bond issue for the BESIC. That would have been the time to have some forethought about growth in planning that facility. What we got for our efforts was a waste of the resources put into it. People want to talk about how it's cheaper to build now than in the future. Well, it would have been even more cost efficient to have built for the future in one building than to have to build two. This idea of having all these separate buildings, each housing just three grade levels, is an inefficient use of resources.

Well, we missed the opportunity. And now we wish we could fix it and we want to fix it by building another new school, but we've run out of opportunity. Now we have to wait. Sometimes consequences do catch up with you. This is one of those times.

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beevo 6 years, 2 months ago

Bloggerboo, it is easy to spend other people’s money. It is also easy tell people how to spend their money. But that advice is most often not wanted & most people find it highly offensive. Every time you have written you have show your utter contempt for everyone that hasn’t agreed with you. I guess the rest of us will just have to accept that there are some truly contemptuous, narrow minded, & stupid people out there.

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