Archive for Thursday, October 30, 2008

Time for $22.9 million vote

A new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center is the largest item on the $22.9 million bond issue that is up for election Tuesday.

A new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center is the largest item on the $22.9 million bond issue that is up for election Tuesday.

October 30, 2008

Funding assistance from the state of Kansas and a potential federal government grant could help lessen the burden of Baldwin School District taxpayers if Tuesday’s bond issue election passes.

If the $22.9 million bond issue is approved, the state government would contribute 27 percent of the funding. Plus the district might be receiving up to $2 million for a pair of safe rooms in the new facilities.

“I am anxious for Tuesday, but I am also hopeful,” said Alison Bauer, school board president. “I think this community has always valued education. I hope the voters come out and prove that to be true. I know the bond committee has done a wonderful job of getting the information out there to the public. As the school board president, I have to hope this passes.”

Supt. Paul Dorathy is also ready for Tuesday’s election.

“We’re all in anticipation to see what the voters feel needs to happen with this bond issue,” Dorathy said. “It’s gotten down to that last week finally and I think most people will be glad to have this election behind them after next week. We’re just in the mode of waiting to see what the results are going to be at this point.”

Some of the concern or opposition to the proposed $22.9 million bond is the cost and added taxes to the district’s patrons. Some of that worry might be lessened knowing the state government contributes 27 percent of the funding.

A tiny amount of that 27 percent would be taxes from the Baldwin district, but the rest would be from the other districts around the state. If the bond doesn’t pass, Baldwin will lose out on a portion of those taxes returning to the community; whereas, if it passes, the community will join others in receiving a share of that money.

“The taxpayers are paying about $16.7 million,” Dorathy said. “Of the $22.9 million, they are paying about $16.7 million of it.

“It would be some of the tax dollars being paid here,” he said. “That money is going to Topeka and creates a pool of money. That money is used to pay all of these bond issues across the whole state of Kansas. It would be a way to bring tax dollars back to Baldwin that are going out to other places to fund other bond issues.”

When the school board approved the bond issue plan in May, the district’s financial advisor, John McArthur, told the board and public about the increased taxes on district patrons. He said the monthly tax on a $200,000 home would be $20.30, which adds up to $243.57 for a year. For a $150,000 house, the monthly taxes for the bond would be $15.22.

“The state picks up 27 cents on the dollar or 27 percent of the cost it takes to do this,” Dorathy said. “In the projections that we figured for the cost of the taxpayers, that has been figured in there.”

Besides the 27 percent from the state, the district could also receive funding help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The safe room grant could be around $2 million. That was the figure tossed out at the Oct. 13 school board meeting.

The grant would be in conjunction with the Douglas County Emergency Management, but is part of the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The money would be used to construct safe rooms in the new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center and the new auditorium, which are the two biggest projects in the bond issue. The grant would pay for 75 percent of the cost of the safe room and the district would pick up the other 25 percent, which is already figured into the bond issue.

“There will be some more cost for building a safe room, but 75 percent of that cost is going to be paid for through these grants,” Dorathy said. “Our 25 percent will come from what we are already putting into the building. More than likely the grant, even though it would cost more to build it into a safe room, would probably benefit the taxpayers because it would probably reduce our cost some to build that room in the first place. We could maybe use some of that extra money for enhancements or it could go back to the taxpayers.”

One last financial benefit of an approved bond issue would be to the district itself. The district would receive additional funding during the next two years for students using the new facilities.

“We get 25 percent of the base state aid, which is about $4,400,” Dorathy said. “So we would get 25 percent of that added for every student that is in the new facility for two years.

“We would receive a couple hundred thousand dollars for two years time for both the primary center and the performing arts center,” he said. “That’s a good thing to kind of help with little costs that you don’t always plan for that pop up in the new facility.”

Tuesday’s election ballot will be filled with many items, most of which deal with state and federal government positions. The district bond issue will also be on there, so Dorathy wants to remind everybody to hit the polls.

“I just want to remind people to vote on Nov. 4,” Dorathy said. “Not only is our bond issue important to our local taxpayers and voters, but there are also decisions to be made about the state and country. This is one of the most critical elections that we’ve had in quite a while.”


bcsandyc 12 years, 1 month ago

Please, please save your tax dollars by voting 'no' for this bond. If you can donate at least some of the tax savings to the Lumberyard Arts Center then it will be plenty useful to provide the necessary performance space for the schools.


Bloggerboo 12 years, 1 month ago

Sandy, this is absolutely unbelievable of you. You would ravage our school system for your pet project that adds no where near the value of a decent school district to the community. Unconscionable. Your silly arts center does nothing to address the very real needs that this district has in terms of learning space, technology, athletics, etc. I will now openly oppose anything and everything the LAC does or wants to do.


oldschool 12 years, 1 month ago

Geez Bugaboo you're stooping to the same level of childishness. We need to realize as a small Kansas town the benefits of working together to pool the resources of the City, Unversity, USD, Rec Commission, and Community Organizations toward the greater good. I think your attempts to hi-jack every post on this website are sounding a little desparate. I'm pretty sure everyone voting has already made up their mind on which way they're going to vote on the issue.


Cityboy 12 years, 1 month ago

oldschool.. Excellent points! Why can't Baldwin serve as an example of a city, university, and community that works together to keep costs down for everyone. Most everything is paid with tax dollars anyway, so why not leverage it at every point possible. I love my children, I want the best for them, but what will we be teaching them about writing a check that we cannot afford to cash. Again, with the economy in its current state, who knows if people will even have jobs to fund the tax increases.

Bloggerboo… I love and respect your compassion, but I disagree with doing it at this point. Good luck at the voting booth.


beevo 12 years, 1 month ago

Now is a very difficult time for a vote on, Baldwin City’s, 22.9 million dollar, school bond issue. I have no doubt our Baldwin City School Board thought conditions would be right when they met and approved the bond proposal. They had no inkling of the economic chaos that is now taking place. For instance, America’s disposable income has fallen at a annual rate of 8.7%. This is the largest decrease since 1947. The Dow has fallen 30.8% for the year to date. Thus our 401K’s and savings have decreased significantly. Many of those who were going to retire can no longer afford to and many of us who have retired now must start planning our return to the work force ; that is if jobs are available. All of our personal expenses have increased and the value of our homes have decreased. In short, times are tough. Therefore now is not the time to create more debt.


Bloggerboo 12 years, 1 month ago

Beevo and Cityboy,

You may be correct in some of your statements about the economy, and also your observations about the very quick turnaround of the economy prior to the board deciding this are right on the money.

However, it only adds to my point that we need to do this now. Look, this is a twenty year bond. There will be tons of ups and downs. Everything we want to get is at its absolute lowest price now, so why wouldn't we take advantage of that? We won't even start paying on this for an entire year!

This economy could be on the upswing and in the black by then, or very near it, and then you want to vote this down now and revote then? When we get probably half of our dollars worth on a twenty year bond? That makes absolutely no financial sense at all. You cannot put off a very good buy like this on economic potential. You have to buy while all these things are so cheap. We can weather any economic storm for $10 a month, especially when you consider what all we get for this money. And, Beevo, the bond is not costing us $22.9 is only $17 million because the state pays close to $6 million of it.


Democracy 12 years, 1 month ago

As a Baldwin High School graduate I must say that I am ashamed of the attitude of the herein represented voters. What it really boils down to is do you honestly care about your children and their future or when you look deep inside yourself do you even care about them at all?

There are numerous reasons why we must vote yes on this proposition. I will just start with the utter embarrassment that is Baldwin High School. No need to even touch on the fact that other schools come to our JUNIOR HIGH to play basketball games and laugh at us. Forget the fact that we have the worst baseball field in the state and certainly the worst I have ever set foot on. Don't bother taking a look at the inside of the Junior High auditorium. It has reached a state of disrepair that doesn't border on, it blows by the line of dangerous and it has been used by every child that has come through that school. There is no need to talk about any of that. Lets talk about the things that affect only the educational aspects.

Four of the top 5 fastest growing careers involve computers. The other is various nursing careers. Therefore lets consider what directly pertains to those fields. Patty Lenning is one of the technology teachers and Baldwin High. She is a wonderful person and always willing to lend a hand to help any student that has any difficulty in all walks of life. Unfortunately the way our district repays her is a salary that competes for the lowest in the state and computers that are out of date. On top of the fact that they are out of date there is not nearly enough to go around. She has to resort to having people go two or perhaps three to a computer. That is no way to learn. The technological field evolves so quickly that to adequately teach a technology class it is important to have cutting edge equipment. Thankfully Baldwin High does have that cutting edge technological equipment. If we are living in 1986. As a final point on the technology aspect. Gayle Dempsey is the other wonderful technology and keyboarding teacher.... She is not even capable of teaching Computer Applications 1 and the college equivalent Computer App 2 because the computers she has are to old to run the programs. This is potentially a serious flaw in the children’s educational upbringing. (Continued)


Democracy 12 years, 1 month ago

Educational standards have been in a downward spiral in America and it is now catching up. We are now dumber in Physics and Math then most developed nations. President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" act did a fine job of catching up the slower kids to the rest of the pack. Even though in many cases those kids will drop out and all they have accomplished is holding back the brighter students. The act basically penalizes schools for test score gaps. Therefore schools are forced to cut gifted programs for the most intelligent students because they can't allow their scores to be to high or they won't get funding. Our brightest minds are stuck in the same mundane setting as the ones who can't read and forced to be driven to insanity by lack of a challenge. Granted this has little to do with our current situation but I thought it was a valuable thing to note and to support my belief that because of things like this we aren't likely to catch up to the rest of the world soon.

One concern that is voiced by math teachers is the books. Having used them myself I can attest to the fact that I hypothesize that they were written by chimpanzees. They explain each process in terms that are difficult to follow with wording that is uncivilized at best and the problems they relate to have nothing to do with what they just explained. Mr. Curran who I fully believe is one of the best math teachers in the world actually resorts to coming up with study guides and worksheets of his own as opposed to let our children learn from the used toilet paper that are those books. He at least wants to prepare the students for what is to come.

When Ginny Honomichl was teaching Human Anatomy. That’s right. Human Anatomy an amazing predecessor to becoming a doctor of medicine. She was not even given the satisfaction of books to teach out of or give the students she resorted to making her own study guides and learning materials which I must say were incredible for preparation for college anatomy classes. While many of my KU classmates struggled with concepts beyond them I was simply reviewing what I had learned as a sophomore in High School. Imagine what she could have done with a few books. She was quite resourceful.


Democracy 12 years, 1 month ago

The lack of diversity is disappointing. Baldwin and by extension the schools have a dramatically white, christian/catholic population. According to the United States Census our city is home to 94 percent white people and one percent or less of any other race. While this may not seem like a problem. Set foot in our schools and you will see the harsh truth. Many of these kids (significantly more then you expect I promise) still have racist views that just aren't logical in 2008. There are a number of students and even adults who have never in their lives met a person of Arab descent or Japanese or a Muslim, Buddhist or anything that may contradict the views and culture of the close-minded Baldwin City. It may not seem like a problem but the real world will offer a culture shock. The more diversity we surround ourselves with the more we give ourselves an opportunity to learn. To hear the views of other people and decide for ourselves where to go to church, what city to live in, who to fall in love with, where to work, what to eat and what dreams we may one day be allowed to dream without doing so in hushed tones for fear of persecution by close-minded, cold hearted fools. There is a whole world out there with incredible things to see and learn, let us not limit ourselves to believing that our boundaries and aspirations end just east of highway 59.

We may argue that it isn't our fault that diversity doesn't come to us. That is a valid argument. However, why should anyone wish to come here? With schools, resources, acceptance, religious possibilities and effort at a bare minimum, who in their right mind would come here when Lawrence is a few minutes away. However with Highway 59 expanding, soon many eyes will look upon Baldwin as potential place to live. I ask, what will we have to offer someone not of the same mold?

Again it comes down to how much we care about the children and what hopes we have for their futures. To say we don't have enough money to invest a couple hundred dollars tops to for a couple years to ensure that our children have the same opportunity as most kids do is a flat out lie. That means we simply do not care enough to find a way. That means that the lives of us as parents are far more important to us then the lives of our children. Find a way. Quit drinking, quit smoking. Its good for you and it will save you up to a thousand dollars a year. More then enough. I know I would do anything for my children I would die for them. Certainly I could break a ridiculous habit for them too.

To take words from Martin Luther King "We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation." Please, give our future some funds both literally and metaphorically. Vote yes when you are faced with this difficult piece of legislation. Be selfless. Do the thing that you wish that your parents would do for you. Find a way.


reallybcsandyc 12 years, 1 month ago

The person who highjacked my identity as bcsandyc is despicable. I did not write anything on this and didn't know about it until a friend of mine let me know. I understand someone did the same thing to Greyghost. Unbelievable.

This is pure B.S. I voted an absentee ballot before I left town ten days or so ago and I did vote for the school bond issue.

Sandy Cardens


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