Archive for Thursday, May 7, 2009

Column: All about doing more even when you have less

May 7, 2009

By now, we’re all used to the mantra of “do more with less” during these tough economic times. It’s a fact of life.

We’ve seen all too well here in Baldwin City the same problems that are occurring nationwide — layoffs, bankruptcies and foreclosures. We’re not immune.

We saw it when Baker University announced the layoff of 23 people system wide in February. We’re seeing it again now as the Baldwin School Board ponders the fate of employees, including seven teachers, who may lose their jobs because of reductions in state funding. We’ve seen the Baldwin City Council tighten belts, including not filling at least two open positions and council members and the mayor doing away with their stipends.

It’s not over yet and there’s probably more on the way. The school board should know more about what it has to do when the Legislature finally agrees on budget cuts forced by a $328 million shortfall in revenues.

Of course you’ve all seen what’s happened in my industry with massive layoffs at numerous newspapers, including the Kansas City Star, the many bankruptcies filed and the closing of several large metro dailies, including the Rocky Mountain News, which was approaching its 150th year of existence.

We’ve all seen what’s happening in the auto industry, the bailouts in banking, the mortgage crisis and, in general, the meltdown of our economy.

We all know people who have lost their jobs. I know I know way too many and hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear about another. It hits way, way too close to home.

Do we really even want to talk about retirement portfolios? Yikes. Once things started heading south, I purposely didn’t even open my financial planner’s monthly reports. I didn’t want to see it. But I had a yearly review with my planner Friday and she sent out a pre-review report so we could talk about it. Yes, I had to look. Ouch. Worse than I thought. So much for retirement.

But, for now, we’re all watching with interest to see what the Legislature will do about school funding and what will result. I covered last week’s school board meeting when the decisions were made on teachers who would be notified of intent for non-renewal. There was a packed house and emotions ran high. Hard decisions had to be made and they weren’t too popular.

I’ve told people I saw things there that I’d never seen at a meeting and hope to never see again. But, that’s where we’re all at — doing more with less.

There are glimmers of hope that it’s turning around. Let’s hope that not only continues, but speeds up.

And there are other good signs of what’s going on and one of those happened just this past week in our school district. If you haven’t read Staff Writer Jimmy Gillispie’s stories detailing the field trip that Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center fifth graders took to Springfield, Ill., you should.

It was the culmination of the students’ study of President Abraham Lincoln during the 200th anniversary year of his birth. The students, staff and parents boarded a bus for Lincoln’s hometown and toured the various sites and memorials to Lincoln. It was a great educational trip.

And you know what? It didn’t cost the school district a dime. It was all privately funded and turned into a great experience for everyone. That’s something those students will never forget.

It’s also as good a sign as I’ve seen that we all can do more with less — and still have fun doing it.

Comments

Torch 5 years, 7 months ago

"And you know what? It didn’t cost the school district a dime."

All this shows is that there are still people out there with enough disposable income to send their children on these trips.

That means there's still room for more taxes! No sense letting them spend their money when we could collect it and decide for them. Never ceases to amaze me that people seem to think they know how to properly spend their own money.

As a sidenote - since it wasn't paid for by the school I wonder if - due to the 'No Child Left Behind' rules - these children used up all of their Parental Excused absences for the year. If so they should all be in detention making up the time.

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