Archive for Monday, April 27, 2009

School board votes to cut administrative costs, give non-renewal notice to seven teachers

April 27, 2009, 9:38 p.m.

Updated: April 29, 2009, 10:07 a.m.

Faced with the possible budget shortfall of $1 million, the Baldwin School Board made some hard decisions Monday night.

The board met for more than two hours in executive session at the special meeting. Board members voted to give notification of intent to not renew contracts for seven teachers, postponed a decision on hiring a new principal at Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center and approved a plan that would reduce administrative costs by $100,000.

Supt. Paul Dorathy explained Tuesday that the moves were necessary to be ready for reductions in state aid. The state is experiencing a $238 million revenue shortage and budget cuts will be made. Currently, a House of Representatives plan calls for a cut of $131 per student, while the Senate version is a $75 per student reduction.

With an unknown budget, the board had to decide on teacher contracts ahead of the Friday deadline for notifying them. Monday’s action does not eliminate those teachers, but informs them that cuts or changes in contracts could result, depending on state funding, Dorathy said.

“Economics are causing this to be a real crunch,” said Dorathy. “The board is not making these decisions because they want to, it’s because they have to.

“My hope is that most of them will be retained,” he said. “What was done last night, the board gave notice of intent of non-renewal. The letters were delivered to the teachers today. All of them had been talked to before.”

He said the final decision on the positions will be made at the May 11 board meeting.

A crowd of more than 50 people was on hand to show their support for one of the teachers, Vinland Elementary School third-grade teacher Matt McCune. A similar crowd had voiced their concerns at a board meeting two weeks ago, but came back this time armed with signs and petitions.

Stacey Leslie, co-chairman of the VES Parent-Teacher Organization, was upset by the board’s action when both McCune and Christopher Bulgren, elementary music teacher at both VES and Marion Springs Elementary School, were given notice of intent to not renew.

“Completely disappointed,” said Leslie. “Not only did we lose Matt, but we also lost Chris Bulgren. “I have a son in kindergarten and a daughter in fourth grade and to lose both of our male teachers is a huge hit for our close-knit school. We were there to support all the teachers, but it was the Matt thing that started it.”

While she understands the money problems, she doesn’t like it.

“It all depends on the money,” she said. “I’m in banking, so I know what the economy is like. It’s so hard in our district when you have the energetic teachers who give so much enthusiasm to our kids and we lose them because they haven’t been here long enough.

“This district without Matt has failed its students,” Leslie said, adding that she hopes other alternatives are found to save his job and that she knows the school board has tough decisions to make. “I wouldn’t want their job.”

Dorathy said the notice of intent for non-renewal for the seven had to be done for several reasons. It doesn’t mean they’ve lost their jobs yet.

“There are several of those that we’re needing to change their contracts, so we legally need to notify them,” he said. “There is the potential with what the Legislature does that we will be able to bring some of those back.”

He also doesn’t know when the final figures from the Legislature will be known.

“I hope quickly, but I’m not optimistic that’s going to happen,” Dorathy said.

Also complicating the budget and awaiting action in Topeka is a bill regarding the Local Option Budget. Currently, the LOB amounts to 30 percent of the General Fund. If state funding is cut, the General Fund goes down, too, limiting the LOB. There’s a bill being discussed to change that, but if it doesn’t pass, there will be even less money.

“That’s an additional $150,000 cut unless they pass that bill,” he said. “That’s part of the reason the board made the action Monday night — because of the unknown.”

As for the administrative cuts, there are some savings expected in replacing Tom Mundinger as BESIC principal, a possible restructuring in the administration as a result and other possible retirements. Also, the mileage stipend paid to administrators has been eliminated, saving $10,000.

“That amounts to a 2 percent salary reduction for each administrator in the district,” said Dorathy.

As for the votes on giving notice to the teachers, six were unanimous. For McCune, the vote was 5-2, with board members Ruth Barkley and Bill Busby voting against. The Signal doesn’t normally list teachers given notice of intent, but the public display and widespread knowledge of the action warranted it.

Comments

ralpho 5 years, 4 months ago

The dumbed-down and chickenhearted majority of Kansans bankrupted themselves and the entire nation by voting for that wolf-in-sheep's-clothing, Bush. They are getting what they deserve, it seems to me. When one acts like a peasant, one will be treated as a peasant. Here is a little pome: "Everybody knows that the dice are loaded./ Everybody throws with their fingers crossed./ Everybody knows that the war is over./ Everybody knows that the good guys lost../ Everybody knows that the game was fixed./ The poor stay poor and the rich get rich./ That's how it goes, everybody knows." There is a time for violence against the greedy rich. Jesus beat the hell out of a bunch of moneylenders. John Brown cut the throats of seven proslavery Freemasons. Their governments killed both Jesus and John, but you have to fight evil, or it will enslave you.

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TheOnlyGreyghost 5 years, 4 months ago

Is Matt McCune's name the only one made public? That hardly seems ethical.

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bc 5 years, 4 months ago

Matt already knew the recommendation was for him to be dismissed as did all of his supporters. He made that information public prior to his official cut as anyone could tell with all the fanfare up until now.

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Torch 5 years, 4 months ago

Ooookay Ralpho...decaf is the one with the orange lid.

Though admittedly Bush and his evil cronies are also responsible for the weeds in my yard, high local taxes, and the insane level of State income tax imposed by our democratic governor.

They're also responsible for the infrastructure improvements required by Baldwin to meet the explosion in growth over the last 10 years. And they stuffed the ballot boxes to pass a $23 million local school bond.

Yep...the only thing we can do is either not re-elect them or have Congress ammend the Constitution and add a term limit to the Office of the President.

Which do you recommend?

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NanCrisp 5 years, 4 months ago

$100,000 to be saved. What expenses will we cut? Programs? Teachers? How about trimming our administrative costs? Overhead. Overhead. Overhead.

Breaking down our schools into 3 grades per building adds administrative costs. If we were currently expanding the BESIC building to accommodate grades k-2 in addition to grades 3-5, we could be cutting administrative costs instead of cutting teachers and programs. The construction costs would be less if we were expanding and upgrading an existing building as opposed to building a new one. We would be able to tap federal stimulus funds that have been designated for modernizing and/or "greening" existing schools.

On some level, we may be saving money on the bond issue (as in, spending less than we had thought was going to be spent), but it doesn't look like that equates in any way to saving jobs. Unless you count the jobs of construction workers whose homes are100 miles from here (or a few hundred miles farther), who will be getting the work when the fruits of our bond issue are realized.

Many a short-sighted voter has lamented the decision once the glossy campaign promises turn to reality on the ground. I should know. Six years ago I heartily supported the bond issue that built the albatross we now know as BESIC. Sign in my yard and everything. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice? Not happening.

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hipgrrrrl 5 years, 4 months ago

NanCrisp - thought you should know that by posting, you save me a lot of effort when it comes to expressing my thoughts on Speak out. You're thoughtful, concise and generally seem to speak my mind - better than I could :). So, while it's undoubtedly presumptious, thank you. I greatly enjoy reading your posts.

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