Archive for Thursday, February 26, 2009

District eyes $885K in budget cuts for 2009-2010 school year

Baldwin Board of Education members look at possible budget cuts while Supt. Paul Dorathy reads the list to the audience members Monday night. The board discussed cuts to next year's budget.

Baldwin Board of Education members look at possible budget cuts while Supt. Paul Dorathy reads the list to the audience members Monday night. The board discussed cuts to next year's budget.

February 26, 2009

Supt. Paul Dorathy reminded audience members repeatedly that he doesn’t want to make any cuts from next year’s budget.

He said that several times during Monday night’s special Baldwin School Board meeting. However, he realizes many cuts are imminent for the 2009-2010 school year.

“There is not a single thing on this list I want to do,” Dorathy said. “However, somewhere along the line, we have a significant amount of cuts that are going to have to happen. The question is, ‘What are those going to be?’ We’ve kind of placed them in an order right now. We’re going to that list one piece at a time.”

On Monday night, Dorathy presented the list of possible cuts to the school board and the public. The list, created by district administrators and Dorathy, includes three phases totaling $885,538 and other cost-saving ideas that add up to $875,121.

“We’ve got the first three phases that were thought out by staff and there’s reasons those are on there,” Dorathy said. “Those things that we’re calling ‘other items’ are there if the worst-case scenario happens. Then we would have to begin some discussions about those items. People should know, before we did any of those, we would have a lot of discussion with the staff and public. Our hope is that we don’t get there, but at the same time, we want to be prepped with some things to deal with if that’s what we are forced to do.”

The majority of cost savings in the first three phases would come from personnel cuts. Those total $563,752. The additional personnel cuts in the “other items” list would save $354,215.

“The decision on when to let personnel know this may be coming is important, in the fact that we need to let them know early so they can seek other employment,” Dorathy said. “We need to notify people as soon as we possibly can. We also don’t want to make cuts we don’t need to make.”

Next year’s cuts could range from $1.1 million to $2 million. The two main factors causing these financial shortfalls are district health insurance premiums and reduction of funding at the state level.

Dorathy said the district’s health insurance problems are projected to cause a shortfall in next year’s budget between $400,000 and $800,000. The final number depends on the rates from the insurance company and the negotiated contract with the teachers’ union. The numbers from the insurance companies are expected to be to the district by the second week of March, according to Dorathy.

“It’s very interesting that many other school districts are looking at the same kind of cuts in the same areas,” Dorathy said. “We are not the only school district that mentioned attendance centers. We are also not the only district that’s talked about cuts to food service, personnel, activities and summer school. The thing that adds to us is our health insurance issue, which makes our cuts more severe than other districts.”

Dorathy also briefly discussed cuts to this year’s budget by the state. He said Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed a bill that cut $33 per student from the district.

“It means about $65,000 cut from our budget,” he said. “Right now, we’re in the process of reallocating money to adjust for that. We are going to probably cut some building supply budgets. We think we can adjust this year without significant cuts.”

The school board will next meet at 6:30 p.m. March 9. Budget discussions will likely be on the agenda at the meeting.

“I think it’s critical, anytime you go through this type of process, that you be really transparent with everyone in the district about what kinds of things are being considered,” Dorathy said. “In the end, I think it’s better that people knew what was going to happen, rather than coming in with a surprise. I think it’s important to be open and transparent.”

Comments

Torch 5 years, 1 month ago

About 18 months ago after a study it was concluded that the district would save $250,000 a year (or thereabouts) by shutting down Marion Springs. At the time Dorathy said it was 'worth it' for the community to keep it open.

Now we're facing nearly a million in cuts and the community day-care center at MS is still going strong. I wonder what $250,000 a year would preserve in the school district if it weren't being wasted out there.

(For Amy Cleavinger that's $4,800 a week.)

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Cityboy 5 years, 1 month ago

Torch, I think you have your facts a little wrong.

First, in order to save the money you would have to shutdown both Marion Springs and Vinland to save that amount.

Second, where would you put the kids? The Primary Center is about to fall down or at least that was how it was sold to the community to pass a bond that does not address brining these kids into Baldwin. If you do think you can squeeze the rural kids into town, it will swell the average class size to around 30 kids. I’ve had children that have been in classes this big before without Para’s and it was pandemonium!

Third, Marion Springs is one of the leanest and best run schools in the district. They have 100+ kids enrolled and have an average class size the same as the schools in town. In an effort to conserve money, they have even combined a 2nd and 3rd grade class.

The rural schools run lean, while the city schools are FAT and happy. Marion Springs and Vinland share a Principal, Music Teacher, Art Teacher, Physical Education Teacher, and Librarian.

Furthermore, we have the following administration in town: 1. Primary Center a. Principal 2. Intermediate Center a. Principal 3. High School a. Principal b. Vice-Principal c. Discipline Principal d.Athletic Director 4. Jr. High a. Principal b.Vice-Principal

I also think there are around 5 to 6 administrative assistances in the high school office as well. When I went to school we had two principals for High School and Junior High and one of them doubled as the AD. We also had two administrative assistance, that took care of everything. How many chiefs do you need?

If you are suggesting eliminating Marion Springs or Vinland, I think you need to look at yourself first!

Community daycare center, now that is funny!

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greyghost 5 years, 1 month ago

Didn't Marion Springs win academic distinction this year?

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NanCrisp 5 years, 1 month ago

Marion Springs is a shining example of what a good school should be. The administration works with the teachers. The kids intermingle and the older students act as appropriate mentors to the younger ones. Everyone is encouraged to put forth their best effort, not because the administration is breathing down their necks or because they hope to win prizes and pizzas, but because they are instilled with a respect for self and others.

The school building is old. It looks like it's about the same age as the portion of BESPC that is actually utilized for classrooms (the one-story portion). Nothing fancy, but everyone pitches in to take care of the building. Proper maintenance keeps the mold and vermin at bay. Every summer, parents pitch in to help clean, paint, tidy up, and fix whatever needs maintenance. This is more than just mulching the flower beds.

There is a real sense of community, of everyone being valued and appreciated. Teachers who are valued -- by the administration, the parents and the students -- do a better job of teaching. Students who are valued -- by the administration, the parents and the teachers -- do a better job of learning. Parents who are valued -- by the administration, the teachers and the students -- do a better job of directing their children's educations. Last, but by far not least, administrators who value all the people involved in the success of a school (ALL students, ALL teachers, ALL parents) will have a far more successful career, as evidenced by the ease with which the academic results and fiscal responsibility are achieved.

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kermit 5 years, 1 month ago

What is an attendance center?

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NanCrisp 5 years, 1 month ago

Attendance centers would split the kids up even more than they are now, into about 2 grade levels per building. For example, preschoolers and kindergarten would attend BESPC. Then 1st & 2nd might attend Vinland, 3rd & 4th attend Marion Springs, 5th (and 6th?) attend BESIC. Sounds really cost efficient, doesn't it? While this type of plan might have had merit when our biggest concern was the problem of the deep rifts between the various elementary schools, it absolutely does not offer any solution to a budget crisis, as far as I can tell. Unless, of course, you eliminate the new BESPC and split the elementary students between Vinland, Marion Springs, and BESIC. Students evenly distributed amonst the 3 existing buildings. No new school to build. Only one principal for VES/MSES and one for BESIC. Less staff, fewer libraries, etc. Now that would solve some budgetary issues.

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andeparks 5 years, 1 month ago

Thanks to all of you who already stepped up with some figures on the potential savings of closing one or both rural schools. I'm probably wasting my time with Torch, as I think this is at least the third time I have corrected him or her on this, but for the rest of you:

One of the first jobs on the facility committee's plate was to determine what we needed to build. To do that, we had to figure out a long-term vision for the number of schools being operated by the district. So, DLR put together some figures on savings associated with closing the outlaying schools. Assuming we wanted to keep similar class sizes, those figures were: Savings of about $136,000 in closing Vinland Savings of about $163,000 in closing Marion Springs Total of about $299,000 annually in closing both schools That figure reperesents 1.9% of the district's operational budget

What's vital to understand (as someone above pointed out) is that those kids would have to be absorbed into the infrastructure of the Baldwin schools. Those schools, particularly the PC, would struggle mightily to absorb that many kids. More money would have to be spent on some kind of facilities to house the extra students.

Given those factors, combined with the enviroment and performance of the outlaying schools, the committee felt the potential savings did not justify any closures. We then proceeded with a plan to address the district's needs, including a new PC that would house all of the district's pre-K programs, as well as the students currently being housed at the existing PC. That building would not be built to house the kids from Vinland and Marion Springs.

As I've said here before, the facilities committee spent many months studying these issues. It was a complex and daunting process, and I think the committee did an excellent job with it.

Finally, I should say that, if the state follows through with the worst case funding cuts that we have heard about, everything will be on the table. If they cut a million dollars from our budget next year, we won't have any choice but to look at some extreme options. Let's hope we never have to face that reality, but we are trying to be prepared, just in case.

Best, Ande Parks Board Member, USD #348 594 3292

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Torch 5 years, 1 month ago

What an emotional and well thought-out series of answers.

What's unfortunate is the community day-care center is costing the district $250,000 a year to operate.

I know it's convenient for the rural district members. I'm sure that the 3 to 1 teacher to student ratio is fantastic.

But unfortunately the vast majority of the district is in Baldwin, not Marion Springs. As of this year it will have cost our community $500,000 to keep that facility open since it was last discussed. That is money is sorely needed for the bulk of the district population.

You can make all the arguments you want about how great a school it is. The only trouble with that is the fact that there is no money and the rest of us are tired of footing the bill for your convenience.

Close it.

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docomom 5 years, 1 month ago

Dear Torch,

You are an idiot, in my opinion. You complain and go on about MSES and how much money the district is throwing out the window keeping the school open. How do you come up with the student-teacher ratio 3-1? What on earth are you talking about? Have you been there? Ever?? Community day care center? What does that mean? Don't answer that question. Don't answer any of those questions. Just keep your thoughts to yourself, please. Because no matter how informed Mr. Ande Parks tries to make you, you just don't get it.

I understand the vast majority of the children in our district go to the IC and PC..but do you realize that the rural population pays the same taxes on their homes that the city folk pays on theirs? I'm a rural resident, in the MSES area, and my 2008 personal property tax statement shows that I paid towards usd 348 (36.6930 mill levy) and bond & interest (10.5410 mill levy), which is, I'm 100% sure, what you paid. Don't you for one minute think that the city folks are the only ones supporting the outerlying schools, just as I won't think that the rural folks are the only ones supporting the in-town schools. That's absurd.

Zip your lip, Mr. Torch. I'm tired of smelling your bad breath. Or get a tic tac and get the facts straight before you spew again.

Sincerely, DoCoMom

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reparmn37 5 years, 1 month ago

Instead of bickering at each other, lets look at facts. What is the Child population of Marion springs? I was told that there is less than 60 to 80 kids there. This includes K to 4th grade. (I need to ask my source if 5th grade is there) I understand 'a combined class' of 1st and second graders are taught together. The same with 3rd and 4th grade classes. Now, let's look at the primary center child population. I would guess there is more than 60 to 80 there. Let's guess there is 250 kids. I know there are four 2nd grade classes, two 1st grade classes, and at least one Kindergarden class. Not to mention the pre school. Each of these classes have 19 to 20 kids. Let's see, the four second grade classes at the PC out number THE WHOLE POPULATION OF MARION SPRINGS. The point is, Marion springs has a full staff, with a principal, office, the whole shebang for 60 to 80 students. What does Vinland have as far as staff? They have NO principal, just a senior teacher who acts as the principal. Unknown if there is a full staff there. Someone who is 'on paper' is listed as the principal at two schools. Unknown which school is the other one. I bet it might be Marion Springs. The PC center has a full staff that has to handle that large bunch of kids. What do you think of that?

Marion Springs should be considered for down sizing or completly closed. I checked public records and lots of those kids out there SHOULD BE GOING TO LAWRENCE OR OTTAWA. You know who you are. What would happen if you close that school? Well, you might stop bussing Kindergarders to that far away place. I have a little granddaughter that has to ride 45 minutes to an hour on the bus to get to Marion Springs. I think that is sad we force our kids to ride on a bus for that long. If Marion Springs is shut down, the other kids would be sent to Vinland, the IC or the PC center. Vinland would benifit because they would be better staffed and get more funding.

You people should research your statements. At least torch has some factual information. Torch has some inside information I would LOVE to get a hold of! Gimmee! Name calling is so silly and shows maturity.

I have a suggestion, if Marion Springs is so important to the people out there, why don't they leave the school district and join another district? They could be part of Overbrook, Ottawa or Lawrence. Just a thought! They can have all the worries (and headaches)of the school district.

Bye kids! Play nice!

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greyghost 5 years, 1 month ago

"reparmn37 (Anonymous) says… Instead of bickering at each other, lets look at facts."

Not much of what you're stating is fact. Some is completely and utterly false. Here's some facts: http://www.usd348.com/?schools As you can see, MSES caters to Pre-K through 5th grade. MSES does have some 2nd graders in the 3rd grade class. I'm not sure if any other classes inter-mingle. There are 72 second graders at the PC, whereas MSES has 126 students total. Wrong again. . . .

MSES and VES share a principal, music, art, nurse, and phys. ed staff.

So, now that you have a better understanding of the FACTS, do you still hold your same opinion? I bet you do. So lets hear your brand new argument for shutting down MSES. Maybe you think we need to close VES also. Whatever the case, your response should be very interesting, if not entertaining.

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reparmn37 5 years, 1 month ago

MSES according to you has 126 total? Really??? That includes all grades, K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. In your fact bag do you know how many are in the PC? I bet you there is more than 126. (hee-hee). It would save LOTS of money if MS was downsized or dare to upset you, closed. I guess you live there. By the way, does your fact book show how many of the MSES kids are zoned to go to Ottawa or Lawrence? Is that why you find this so intresting? It sure is easy to win awards when you have a classroom that has three adults in the room. You know the PC has only a teacher in a room. The only difference is there is a para professional in the room if there is a Special needs kid in there.

Play nice kids. Do not be a wienee!

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greyghost 5 years, 1 month ago

Are you unable to click on links? Check my post above, the words that are in blue lettering are actually a url you can right click with your mouse. Here it is again (so you don't have to figure out how to scroll up a page): http://www.usd348.com/?schools

BTW, I live in Baldwin. However, I think that that school serves an important role in our district, as well as VES.

Don't get upset that every point you made in your original post has been refuted with real facts and statistics.

Now, come up with another way of avoiding the fact that you don't have any idea of what your talking about.

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reparmn37 5 years, 1 month ago

I do not see ANY proof from you. Your link is nice but I do like to debate with ill informed people who think that they are right and will step on anyone who disagrees. Now read slowly, ready, here we go kids.

My point is that Marion Springs isn't needed in my opinion. You can't dispute that, kid. You have the right to say your peace, and so do I, unless you are a commie pinko. I think Marion Springs is a waste of cash to support such a small part of the community. We all need to watch our money now because of our present economy, and we need to do this with the school district by telling our school board members what our concerns are. IN MY OPINION!

Does your vast knowledge tell you that there are other options that can be considered? If they let ONE principal go, that would free up lots of money. It was mentioned by others on this tree list about the attendance centers.

Now I challange you to show the world here what did you refute with facts and statistics. Remember you said, and I quote by cut and paste:

"Don't get upset that every point you made in your original post has been refuted with real facts and statistics."

I look forward to seeing you fumble through trying to prove the points that you have "refuted". After all, hot air is very plentiful around here.

Be nice kids

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greyghost 5 years, 1 month ago

Hey, I think we all agree that cuts are going to be made. Sacrifices are needed from everyone in the district. I am not disagreeing with you on that.

However, I believe that MSES is a very efficient model of how a school should be run. As I stated before, many of the staff is split between MSES and VES. I think you were ill informed by your friend on several counts. The numbers you quoted were wrong. The principal issue was wrong. The adults per classroom quip was wrong. You stated several things that were wrong. Now I see that it doesn't matter to you if the numbers you were arguing were wrong, you just want MSES closed down for some other reason. Why MSES, though, and not VES?

Perhaps we could get Ande Parks up in here to show us some number models, e.g., percent of MSES compared to the rest of the district, and in relation the percent of the budget for MSES compared to the rest of the district. If the percentages are comparable, say +/- 5%, then we're getting our money's worth.

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