Archive for Thursday, September 25, 2008

Letters to the Editor

September 25, 2008

To the editor:

I love Baldwin City! My husband, Scott, daughter, Chloe, and sons, Caleb and Christian, love it here too. We chose this community nine years ago because of the quality teachers, schools, the beautiful town, and the friendly people. We saw a community that really cared for kids; this was very important to us because at the time, we had a third grader, kindergartner, and a preschooler. They are 9 years older now and I still believe we have a community that will back our kids' educational needs.

I have been attending many of the school bond issue meetings and have heard the facts surrounding this issue. I am so excited by the possibilities of the new proposals for our students; every school in the district will win with this school bond.

However, the facts surrounding the consequences of a "no" vote scare me and they should everyone in this town. A "no" vote would cause the district to spend all of its Capital Outlay money on a new roof for Baldwin Junior High School and on renovations for the current Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center. The fact is that no monies would be left for planned purchases such as buses, technology, furniture, parking lot repairs, you name it. This will put our district in dire straits. I also teach in the primary center and have first-hand experience with the conditions of the facility. I walked in one day and saw our principal putting up a wall of drywall in a small room to create another 6 X 7 room for a teacher to work with students. We are out of space at the primary center. What happens if the bond doesn't pass and we have five first grades next year instead of four? Every room is already filled. Do you think large class sizes is the best for the Baldwin students? The following are the facts of a "Yes" vote.

¢ Vote yes if you want quality teachers to remain in this district.

¢ Vote yes if you want our students to keep up with the surrounding schools in the area of technology and be better prepared for the next level of education.

¢ Vote yes if you want to take advantage of the state paying 27 percent of the cost for the bond issue. (Local taxpayers would only pay about $16 million of the $22.9 million.) This money is guaranteed if the bond passes. This 27 percent funding opportunity could go away during any legislative session.

¢ Vote yes if you want quality air to breathe in the primary center and the junior high.

¢ Vote yes if you can give $5 a week for quality education for kids instead of spending it on a candy bar and pop.

¢ Vote yes if you don't want to pay taxes on a more expensive bond in February. Passing a bond in November means we won't have to approve a more expensive bond in February.

¢ Vote yes if you can think of a special child in your life that the bond will benefit.

¢ Vote yes if you want your business to grow (if you're a business owner in Baldwin).

Scott and I will vote "yes."

Holly Gaylord

Baldwin City

To the editor:

In 2009, state government will face staggering legislative challenges which will require exceptional leadership and cooperation from both parties. Fortunately, the 10th district has been blessed with two outstanding candidates for representative in John Coen and Tony Brown, and I look forward to a good campaign on the issues between these two intelligent and passionate candidates.

However, I believe that the leadership Tony has exhibited in his work on the Baldwin City Council, his occupation as a professor at Baker University and his community involvement best qualify him to provide tenacious and active representation for the citizens of the 10th district in the state legislature.

Tony has spent countless hours over the summer listening to the consternation of voters over issues like energy prices and malfunctioning bureaucracy and he understands the frustration with government and will be an effective voice for change and advocate for good government in Topeka should he be elected.

His tenure as a professor at Baker University provides Tony with insight and passion for fixing the problems that plague our public education system. Tony understands that an investment in education truly is an investment in Kansas.

Going forward, the people of Kansas and the 10th district face unique challenges and opportunities and I believe that Tony's experience and proven leadership in city government and community uniquely qualify him to represent this district.

Logan Keener

Vinland

To the editor:

I am a USD 348 patron with three students in the district. I am voting "yes" for the upcoming school bond issue on Nov. 4. Here is why. We live together in a collective society. We would not want to live in a place that subscribes to the philosophies of "every man for himself" and "survival of the fittest" when it comes to our schools. The choice to live in Baldwin City and its surrounding school district comes with responsibilities. This includes the responsibility to educate our children. Not my children, not your children, but our children.

There are many items which will be funded by the school bond. A new primary center, replacement of the heating and cooling system in the junior high, a performance auditorium, athletic fields and technology. Many people have worked hard to create this plan. Countless hours have been spent arguing the pros and cons of each component. There were so many more items that some would have liked to be in the plan that were not included. What's left are the necessities.

Some have argued that they won't benefit from this plan because they don't have children in the school district. I could say I don't want a new primary center because my children are already in junior high and high school. (They are!) I could say I don't want new athletic fields because my children may not use them. (They will!) I could say I don't want to replace old worn-out heating and cooling systems or fix a leaky roof for the junior high because environment doesn't affect learning. (It does!) I could say I don't want a new performance auditorium because I don't like fine arts. (I do!) But whether I personally benefit doesn't really matter. As a society "we" benefit by providing safe and conducive learning environments for "our" children.

Some have argued that they don't like certain aspects of the plan. Well, quite frankly, I don't either. But I knew the school district was looking at creating new learning environments. I could have gone to school board meetings to voice my concerns. I could have volunteered to serve on the task force the district established to come up with a plan. I could have called Supt. Paul Dorathy. But I didn't. Because I didn't, I don't have room to criticize the work of those who did.

Some have argued that the buildings wouldn't need to be replaced or fixed if the district took better care of them. Well, there have never been enough maintenance funds to take care of all the district's maintenance needs, especially for 40-, 50- and 85-year-old buildings. As anyone knows who has had an old car, the older it gets, the more maintenance it needs. At some point you have to decide whether you want to continue to have that car nickel and dime you to death or get a new car. Old school buildings are no different. You can only do so much with what you have for only so long. We just can't make do any more.

Some have argued that this is not a good time economically to invest in our children's educational future. But when has it ever been? If we all waited until we could afford children to have them, we wouldn't have a need for any schools because there would be no children.

Right now legislative incentives are favorable for new and updated school facilities. The state will currently pay 27 percent of the total cost of this project. If you were to purchase a new car or home for 73 percent of the original price, you would think it was quite a bargain. Our neighbors up and down U.S. Highway 59 and on U.S. Highway 56 and K-10 realize the bargain this is and they're taking advantage of it. They know the legislative mood can change. They know bond rates are the lowest they have been in years. They know the cost of inaction.

There is no doubt that if this particular bond issue fails a new one will be proposed, probably next year. It would most likely be very similar to the current bond issue. We have no choice. It just has to be done. Our children deserve it. Yet if the Legislature chooses to eliminate state assistance because of a poor economy, we could be spending considerably more money for the same thing. Last week's Signal reported that the current high cost of Baldwin City utilities is a direct result of previous city administrations allowing the utility infrastructure to fall apart. Be assured, we will pay a price if we allow our school infrastructure to continue to fall apart.

We can't afford to be in denial about the extent of the problem and the extent to which our children need this. That is why my wife and I are voting "yes" for Baldwin City's children. I hope you will too.

David Simmons

Louise Cummings-Simmons

Baldwin City

To the editor:

Last year many of you missed the Baldwin Blues and Barbecue, and you missed a great event. All the proceeds go toward the building of the Lumberyard Arts Center Project. Take a look at the progress being made on this project. What pride we as a community are projecting by the building of this arts center.

With the economy worries I'm sure people are looking for cheap entertainment. What better place to spend a Saturday evening, dinner and entertainment for a minimal cost (gotta eat anyway) and you can show your support for an ongoing project that will give our community one more thing to be proud of. Come join us at the Baldwin Blues and Barbecue on Oct. 4.

Gloria Roach

Vinland

To the editor:

I want to take this opportunity to thank the city council and Mayor Gary Walbridge for answering some of my questions at the last city council meeting. I believe I made my point that the high prices of utilities has many citizens of Baldwin concerned.

The Signal did a fairly good job of covering the meeting, However, they left out some key points of discussion. I wasn't there to just get a "history lesson" on Baldwin utilities. Mayor Walbridge had done a fairly good job of answering my questions about the history of Baldwin utilities prior to the meeting via email. I was also there to see what we could do to lower the rates.

During the discussion, I had raised several cost-saving opportunities that could be of immediate benefit to the citizens of Baldwin. First is the cost of electricity that Baker pays. At 7 cents a kilowatt hour, one of the biggest users of electricity pays 3 cents less than you or I. Basically, this is a pass-through cost. Baker can pass the cost through to the students who are living in the dorms through higher rent and a tuition increase. There is no reason why I, or any one else, should subsidize another parent's child to go to college here at Baker.

A second cost-saving feature is tied to the use of ball field lights. These lights are not paid by the school district. You and I pay for their use. Again, this should be charged to the school district, not the patrons.

Part of the costs associated with our rates comes in the form of a savings designed for future expansion and/or improvements. Future expansion will not be necessary and/or could be delayed provided we all save on the use of electricity. Savings ideas such as CFLs, raising your thermostat, turning lights out, unplugging items that use electricity when not in use, etc. A recommendation I gave to the city would be a tiered rate structure encouraging the patrons of Baldwin City to use less. An example of this is: you use less than a 800 kwh per month, then you would be charged 9 cents a kwh, 800-900kwh/10 cents a kwh, etc. I believe this rate structure or something similar would encourage Baldwin residents to save thus reducing our need for future expansion.

Finally, we may need to rethink the power plant. This was a hotly debated topic about 7-8 years ago. One that I think we made a big mistake on. Even the Baldwin City Signal stated in their December article, "Building the new plant and upgrading the city's distribution system resulted in debt service to the city of $690,000 per year. Factor all of those numbers together and that's where Baldwin City's rate comes from."

I'm pretty sure we are not saving that amount in power generation and/or bargaining power for our electricity. If we were, we wouldn't have the rates that we have now. Council meetings are coming up with a possible rate increase on the horizon. If you want your voice to be heard, make sure you attend one of these.

Scott Petry

Baldwin City

To the editor:

I was recently in an accident, as lots of you know. With a compound fracture of my left forearm, a broken kneecap on my left leg and 15 broken ribs, I spent 5 1/2 weeks in K.U. Medical Center. I was injured badly but still consider myself very fortunate.

This letter isn't written to talk about me but to tell you of an experience I want to share. I had two of my grandchildren with me. I was only going 2 1/2 miles away from home and it would have been very easy to just put the two grandchildren in the van and take off. Instead I did as my son and daughter-in-law had always asked me to do, which was to always buckle the kids in their car seats. We all know the law requires us to do that anyway, but there are people who don't obey the law.

My granddaughter, 8-year-old Tessa, and her 3-year-old brother Brandon were the grandchildren with me. Tessa hit her mouth on her knee and required three stitches but that is the only injury either one of them acquired. I am so thankful I checked the seatbelts and made sure they were tight before we left home. Our accident happened approximately 1 mile from our home. I thank God all the time for sparing all of our lives. What I want to say is, please take the time to buckle those precious little children in their car seats. I now see how quickly something can happen and it can be something you will regret the rest of your life. Thanks for reading this and please remember the message I am sending to you.

Suzi Gottstein

Baldwin City

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