Archive for Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Baldwin School Board bites budget bullet

Pending cuts in state aid draw hard decisions on teaching positions, administrative costs

Around 50 people, many of them children, attended the special Baldwin School Board meeting Monday night to show support for teachers. The board met in executive session on and off for more than two hours before deciding to give notice of intent for non-renewal to seven teachers.

Around 50 people, many of them children, attended the special Baldwin School Board meeting Monday night to show support for teachers. The board met in executive session on and off for more than two hours before deciding to give notice of intent for non-renewal to seven teachers.

April 29, 2009

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

greyghost 4 years, 11 months ago

I didn't read anything about not renewing sports coach's contracts. I guess we know where the priorities are, now.

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andeparks 4 years, 11 months ago

greyghost,

That is a cheap shot and a faulty assumption. First, the entire activities (not just athletics) budget is under $300,000. Second, cuts in that activities budget are indeed part of the plan we have put forward to handle the current budget situation. The district office should be able to show you that list. I don't believe it's on our web site yet... it should be shortly. Not all of it was made public because of the personnel issues, but much of it was.

I was hesitant to post in this thread because I cannot get into the personnel decisions in any way here. I can only say that Monday's meeting was my worst in five years as a board member, that none of this is ideal or fun in any way, and that all I can do is cast the votes I honestly believe are best for the district.

Best Ande Parks

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TheOnlyGreyghost 4 years, 11 months ago

Ande~ Just want to clarify, in case you haven't followed the online characters here too closely:

the "fakeghost" who stole my posting name when Speakout changed formats is not the original Greyghost and in no way represents my thoughts or opinions on anything. It is annoying to have to keep making this disclaimer (and my apologies to those who have previously read it), but it would be more annoying if anyone confused the two of us because of his underhanded, unethical, childish act of scooping my posting name.

I had spent several years with that posting persona and other readers had come to know me and recognize that name as standing for certain values. Why fakeghost thought it would be a good idea to steal another's identity instead of making an effort to develop his own, I have no idea--he has yet to attempt to explain his juvenile actions. He's either too lazy (which makes sense, since he was too lazy to come up with an original name) or too arrogant to bother.

As for me--the real Speakout Greyghost--I appreciate your efforts and know what a difficult job you have. I may not always agree with everything the board does, but I thank you for your service to the community and for putting your best efforts into every decision.

Like other Baldwin residents, I would like to know more about what went into the decisions regarding personnel, but I will withhold any praise or criticism until I have more facts before me rather than shooting from the hip before hearing those facts.

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Torch 4 years, 11 months ago

Real Greyghost here's the what you need to know about the decisions regarding personnel:

Tenure. Union.

Good teacher. Bad teacher. Future Queen of Scotland. Doesn't matter. No tenure = no job. No matter how good you are.

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greyghost 4 years, 11 months ago

Ande,

Point taken. I'm not trying to rub salt in anyone's wound, but I know of some that rec'd the letter of intent and I know that we're losing some great assets in those teachers. Yet, I'm not reading about any cuts from other areas, e.g. asst. coaching staff cuts, secretarial cuts, custodian cuts, etc.

Will wait to see the minutes from the Board meeting to make any other remarks.

Thanks, fakeghost

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Peabody 4 years, 11 months ago

Torch,

The implication of your post is that we dissolve tenure and teachers' unions, yet you offer no alternative. I know you must have some ideas that you are holding back.

What is your proposal? Are you willing to present it to Ande Parks and the rest of the Baldwin City school board? How about the general Baldwin City community?

I would be for an open discussion of your educational positions in a public forum. I think that would be good for the entire community. What do you say? Let's have a good old-fashioned public debate.

Tony Brown

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bc 4 years, 11 months ago

I remember seeing the "cut" list posted on the districts website a number of weeks ago. On the front page of usd348.com, click on news archive and look for "02/24/2009 - Letter from the Superintendent"

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greyghost 4 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like the health care system needs to be scratched all together! How about Healthwave for teachers?

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