Archive for Thursday, December 3, 2009

District feels budget-cut pinch again

December 3, 2009

With the latest round of budget cuts from the state, the Baldwin School District will lose $359,944 from this year’s budget on top of the $310,000 already lost. Unfortunately, that’s not the worst of it, said Supt. Paul Dorathy.

“The bad thing is I don’t think we’re done yet,” said Dorathy. “I think it’s going to get deeper and deeper. It’s going to ultimately change education in Baldwin City significantly.”

That’s Dorathy’s outlook after Gov. Mark Parkinson announced $259 million in state budget cuts last week because of continuing revenue problems. Education was earmarked for $36 million in cuts, which trickled down to Baldwin City’s $359,944.

“That’s our cut,” said Dorathy. “Yeah, ouch. Our challenge is that it is this year’s budget cuts, not next year’s. It’s now.”

He said it will mean personnel losses, although it won’t mean teachers and administrators, who are on 12-month contracts. They can’t be cut. Staff can.

“I think after all the cuts we made last year, I don’t know how we can’t look at personnel,” he said. “I do believe we’re going to have to cut some people.

“We will be looking at people who are not on contract and programs,” said Dorathy. “This will be a real challenge to make that significant of a cut half way through the school year.”

It won’t be the first round of personnel cuts. He said around eight positions were eliminated from the district this year.

“Yes, we did have to let some people go,” said Dorathy, adding that there isn’t really anywhere else to cut. “Oh, yeah, personnel ends up being the largest part of our budget.

“Heat, electricity, sewer all have to be paid,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of places we can cut. It comes down to personnel and we will have to make some cuts.”

Where those cuts will be made is already under review.

“I met with the administrative team (Tuesday) to see what we can do,” he said. “We were analyzing positions. It will be several positions. We’re also looking at programs and supply items. We’ll be reallocating or living without supplies.”

It’s not like the district hasn’t been through the process and more. The most recent example he gave was that the district only received half of its state aid — what it lives on, pays bills and salaries with — on Nov. 1. The second-half check hasn’t arrived yet and Dorathy hopes it’s here this week. But November is over.

“They haven’t even talked about the December payment,” he said. “The state has got real revenue issues. They can’t pay their bills.”

Dorathy wasn’t sure when the personnel cuts will be made, but it will be soon.

“I think we will be making some moves by the Dec. 14 (school) board meeting,” he said.

Comments

TeaBagger 5 years ago

And on top of all this, the City has welshed on its promise to pay for the electricity at the sports fields. It has always paid for this but the current city council refused to continue paying for this. It isnt fair that our children can't participate in healthy sports activities just because the city council can't get there act straight. They made a promise and we as citizens should demand that they continue to pay.

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sandman 5 years ago

What a nice gift from the School District one week before Christmas. Maybe the displaced school staff can get a job helping to build that wonderful investment on the edge of town.

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jmyrick 5 years ago

Tea, we've talked about this before. Who from the city promised to pay this? Did you get it in writing? Was it part of the minutes?

The decision to do away with all "free" utilities to everyone -- that's the theater group, Maple Leaf Festival, school district, everyone -- was made by the council.

You as a taxpayer will continue to pay for the utilities. Whether that's through the city, school district or recreation commission, it's still your dime. That's a promise.

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Julie Craig 5 years ago

It's not a gift from the School District, sandman, it's a gift from the State of Kansas. How can they miss the budget by 200 million plus? I think this is criminal and we should all call our representatives at the State.

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sandman 5 years ago

Point taken Gazoo, and your statement is correct. I contend that the School Board AND Supt. Dorathy should have seen this coming. Many people including myself tried to get this point across a year ago when we voted on the bond issue. I am not a professional accountant, and do not have the business background that most of the school board members do, but I did have the common sense to realize that we were in the beginning stages of a recession.

“The bad thing is I don’t think we’re done yet,” said Dorathy. “I think it’s going to get deeper and deeper. It’s going to ultimately change education in Baldwin City significantly.”

Where was all this wisdom and foresight a year ago? All the new schools, ball fields, and auditoriums make no difference without staff to teach, coach, and maintain them.

I’ve stood on the soapbox long enough. My heart goes out to the school staff members who will shortly be unemployed. Happy Holidays, and the Best of Luck to you.

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Torch 5 years ago

I wish I could go back and show all the blogs where I posted warnings about taking on debt on the edge of a recession and how Baldwin needed to take an appetite suppressant. That we needed to teach our children that prudence was the best way to handle a recession, not reckless spending.

The people of Baldwin were hoodwinked by our version of Nancy Pelosi. 'It's for the kids' was the battlecry our Amy Cleavinger and company.

Now I hope we can afford to feed and clothe them...let alone hire teachers to do the job.

But don't worry...the Badlwinites will line up again next time when the new slogan is revealed - 'It's for the teachers who are for the kids!'

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Peabody 5 years ago

GreatGazoo and other posters,

I voted for the budget that missed by over $200 million, so if you want to throw things at somebody, you can start with me. Let me try to explain what happened earlier this year.

We knew the revenue projections were bad and likely to get worse. But we were trying to pass a budget that did the least amount of harm to funds for K-12 education and social service programs.

The Senate put together a budget that wasn't great, but was about as good as we were going to get. The leadership in the House was preparing a budget proposal that cut school funding more deeply. That was an action that a majority of the House members, including myself, didn't want to see happen. So we adopted the Senate budget, flawed as it was.

When we left that night, we were aware there would have to be adjustments made later this year if we failed to meet projections. But our belief was that we should not make the cuts until we absolutely had to -- to maintain some optimism that state revenues might improve over the summer. I still think that was the correct course of action.

I am as distressed as anybody about these education cuts -- I've spent my entire professional life as a teacher, my wife is a school librarian, and may daughter is a high school student. But the state revenue is not sufficient to support the schools at their current level.

As I have reported in the Signal, over 90% of Kansans polled this summer support maintaining or increasing funding for education at both the K-12 and higher education levels. Unfortunately, the majority party in the Kansas House wants to cut education funding and they control the legislative agenda.

If Kansans are really serious about having quality schools in this state, then they need to start sending legislators to Topeka who support adequate funding for education.

I would welcome your feedback on this very important issue.

Tony Brown 10th District Representative 594-2596 tonybrownforkansas@gmail.com

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Julie Craig 5 years ago

It would have been better to adopt a more realistic budget and make the cuts before the School Districts were half-way through the year. I don't feel as though $200 million plus is just an "adjustment" Tony. That is a major error which can't be explained away by legislators being "optimistic" about the economy.

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Peabody 5 years ago

You're right -- we should have been more accurate.

Tony

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NanCrisp 5 years ago

Not only did this recession begin with an overabundance of over-optimism, but also with an overemphasis on hushing the voices of those who could see exactly where we were headed. It is often better to face reality early on and try to go into things with preparation than to try to be optimistic and hopeful and fail to put in place that which is necessary to circumvent problems that are statistically likely to occur. Once upon a time, our country was known for an ability to use logic and reason. We need to quit boosting our self-esteem (both individually and collectively) at the expense of our common sense.

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BaldwinDad 5 years ago

You would think with the funding issues we are facing that perhaps at this time we need to stop all funding for the ball-fields and athletic upgrades and focus on education and keeping the quality teachers in their jobs.

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Julie Craig 5 years ago

Tony wants feedback. I can think of some concerns.

What assurances can you give that this will not be an issue in future years? A school district should not have to scramble around to cut $360,000 in the middle of a budget year.

Also, will the State of KS bail out on promises to pay a percentage of our project expenses just like they bailed out on State Aid?

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bc 5 years ago

It's amazing this hasn't made more news in light of the state budget issues, but tell my why the grossly over budget statehouse renovations are still under way. I would be ticked if the project was a couple million dollars over budget, but roughly $190 million over budget?????

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Peabody 5 years ago

GreatGazoo,

Education budget cuts will be an issue in future years if voters continue to elect legislators who do not value education funding. Kansans have got to decide if they wish to adequately fund public schools and vote for candidates that reflect their interests.

As for state aid for educational project expenses, I have not heard any discussion of rescinding those funds and I'm not sure if the legislature can do that legally.

bc,

The renovations to the capitol have mushroomed and the expense is a legitimate concern. The scope of the project expanded as it went along -- each small decision has added up to a large collective amount.

I'm not sure what you are asking in terms of a solution. Would you like us to stop at this point and resume in a few years when the expense will be greater? Do you want us to stop now and not finish the project? What action would you advise we take?

The final comment I would offer is that the capitol doesn't belong to the legislature or the governor or the staff personnel who work there. The capitol belongs to the people of Kansas. I sincerely believe we are trying to take care of your house.

Tony

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