Archive for Thursday, April 29, 2010

School board discusses budget cuts, fee increases

On Monday night, the Baldwin School Board discussed several large budget cuts to the 2010-2011 school year.

On Monday night, the Baldwin School Board discussed several large budget cuts to the 2010-2011 school year.

April 29, 2010

Baldwin School District students might be paying a lot more to participate in activities and sports next year.

During this school year, participants paid $40 per activity at Baldwin High School and Baldwin Junior High School. However, those user fees could increase dramatically for the 2010-2011 school year, according to the Baldwin School Board on Monday night.

“I’m more willing to try this than risk the kids in the classroom,” Board Member Blaine Cone said.

The school board made no decision Monday. However, the board discussed the possibility of increasing those fees from $10 to $220. According to the activity budget report from Gary Stevanus, activities director, the current user fee of $40 brings in about $20 per student, because students that receive free or reduced lunches have reduced fees or the fees are waived.

The report also said the district would need to charge $220 per student per activity to cover all of the costs associated with activities. That number didn’t sit well with school board members.

“I’m not comfortable with $200 per activity,” Board Member Scott Lauridsen said. “I think we need to decide how much of the activity costs do we want to fund.”

Board Member Bill Busby threw out 50 percent of activities should be funded by user fees. He said he just gave that number to start the discussion. Cone responded by saying that the district would have to charge the full $220 to get 50 percent of that money, because the district only averages 50 percent of the fees currently.

The school board finally decided to bring in $50,000 more from activities, which cost the district around $250,000 this year. The board members were unsure how much that would increase fees, but hope to have that information for their next meeting Monday night.

“It scares me to think that we would be going into unknown waters,” Busby said.

The increased activity fees is one of the ways the school board is trying to deal with a potentially large cut to next year’s budget. Baldwin could be facing an approximately $500,000 cut from the state legislature for next year. However, the legislature hasn’t approved the state’s budget, so districts around the state are preparing for a decision.

“We’re going to have to look at some big-ticket items and those items aren’t very popular,” Supt. Paul Dorathy said. “I know I’ve said before we are at the point where we can’t keep cutting some budget items.”

The school board discussed some of those items Monday night. Several decisions that could be made are increasing textbook fees, replacing librarians with aides and retiring some administrators.

No decision was made on textbook fees, but Dorathy suggested that item to the board. Dorathy said the district will save $34,000 by replacing the librarians with aides and $72,000 with the retirements.

The school board also discussed personnel cuts during executive session Monday. After all of the suggested cuts were combined, the board had found nearly $280,000 in cuts.

Then came the bigger items, such as closing one or two of the rural elementary schools. None of the board members seemed to support closing both Vinland and Marion Springs elementary schools.

“I’ll throw out an opinion or two and see if we can start a discussion,” Board Member Ande Parks said. “It’s just pure opinion, for me, closing two schools isn’t possible, because of our buildings.”

Closing one of the buildings wasn’t out of the question. One of the main concerns for board members was increased class sizes. Some were OK with increasing class sizes by two students, while others thought four to six students would be OK.

“I think it’s more about having quality teachers, than class sizes,” Lauridsen said. “According to a report I read, if you have a poor teacher, the class size is irrelevant, and if you have a quality teacher, the class size is also irrelevant.”

The other two large-budget items that were on the fact-finding report that were discussed Monday were elementary attendance centers and four-day school week. The attendance centers are still an option, according to board members, but the four-day school week seems to be off the table.

The school board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the District Office to continue its budget discussion.


Torch 10 years, 5 months ago


They just can't bring themselves to understand that hard decisions are needed now. Closing the outlying schools would save the district money. Period. It was studied a couple of years ago and determined that closing one of them would save the district about $200k a year.

At that time Dorathy said it 'was worth it' to the district to keep them open. Since that study we've spent $400 - $600k to accomodate a handful of families.

Now we're out of money and they don't have the stones to do what they have to do. The convenience of a few families is impacting the funding for the vast majority of the district. How fair is that?

There are positions within this district that can be eliminated and save tens of thousands of dollars a year without impacting the classroom. It's time to think of the majority here. It may not be ideal, but what is best for the whole of the district is what needs to be done.


NanCrisp 10 years, 5 months ago

Torch: "There are positions within this district that can be eliminated and save tens of thousands of dollars a year without impacting the classroom."

You're right about that, and some of those possibilities have been outlined in the board's discussion. Utilizing library aides is a good one. Elementary-aged children don't need the daily expertise of a librarian; save that for the high school library and have that librarian oversee the activities at the other schools while the daily duties are done by the aides who are perfectly capable of handling the tasks involved.

Another good decision is the increase of activity fees. It seems to me that the school board is looking at this the right way, trying to create a compromise that focuses the schools' efforts toward the core necessities of education.

We have to remember that the reason we have public education in the U.S. is to create a citizenry that is capable of handling the responsibilities of democratic election processes within a republican governmental system. This requires a basic education and is the reason the public education system was established. Beyond that goal, there is only one other reason the public finances k-12 education, and that is to appropriately train people to enter the workforce and make cost-effective contributions to our economy. As taxpayers, we should always look to the return on our investment when thinking about what programs should be included (in good times) and cut (in poor times).

As a strong advocate for reform of school finance that puts more of the burden on the people receiving the education versus the society at large, I find the current considerations of this school board a breath of fresh common sense. Everyone is up in arms now about rich bankers, rich corporate officers, etc. We want to find a way to wrench some taxes out of them, but they keep evading it. At the same time, their kids get the same free education in this country that welfare recipients receive. It seems plain to me that we could have more money for our schools overall if people pay for their kids' educations on an ability-to-pay basis. The tax money would provide education to kids whose families can't afford it; those who can afford it would pay (on a sliding scale), and it would improve the quality of education, the level of commitment and involvement of families with school-aged children, and the stability of the schools themselves.


greyghost 10 years, 5 months ago

Try calling them cowards to their faces. Have you tried that? I bet not -- because that would mean your the pot and they're the kettle.


cgcampbell 10 years, 5 months ago

I understand fee increases may be needed to help support sport activities. I do not have a problem with an increase but NOT up to $200 PER SPORT!!!!!!! Or any where near that amount, that is just out of line. I have one student going to BHS and he is involved in several sports, there is no way I can begin to afford something like that. I could not even imagine parents who have several students enrolled to pay these fees. One of the sports my son is involved in is completly funded by the parents and the coach, tennis. So where exactly does this present fee go to? I presume some of it goes to gas for the Suburan they drive, because they do not use a school bus. The coach drives the Suburan, so no fees for a bus or driver for the bus. The coach chips in to pay for equipment that might be needed, the parents pay for uniforms, rackets, shoes etc....

I have heard some of the other sports are funded by the Booster Club because there are no funds sometimes for that sport. So just what exactly does the fee pay for?


Stacy Napier 10 years, 5 months ago

Sports are not educational necessties. You would propose raising textbook fees which are directly tied to education, but not the sports fees which really have nothing to do with learning what our children need to. I am sorry but it should be pay to play.

Cg, you can't afford the "several sports" you child is in than I guess he doesn't need to do those sports. Wow that is life. You can't afford something than you don't get to have it.

Nan I agree with you almost completly. We do have a sliding scale for paying taxes on schools to a point. It is called property tax. I pay more than others based on my house price. Why because I can afford a bigger house. Those that can't afford as much get to set right next to my child in the same school. I also pay more in state imcome tax than someone who makes less than I do. So in reality there is a difference in how much one pays for education.


feduped 10 years, 5 months ago

I do not think notwhatyouthink gets the issue. The district seems to have money for everything else, baseball field, and big screen television in the high school, that they call an information center. A touch screen information center and new buildings had to cost more than a seasonal sport. The new building great idea for the powers that be to start that project while school is in, can’t wait to see how many parking tickets are given out at graduation. notwhatyouthink I will agree with pay for play on one issue. Students on the food assistance program (food stamps-welfare) do not have to pay the sports fee and they should. The tax payers give them a free lunch; they get a free ride too? Yep I took a pay cut at my job this year and food assistance went up 12% this year. I think if they want to play they can pay the same fee as everyone else, which should be reasonable. For the record I think sports are a big part of education. If the rumor is true the cheerleaders are budgeted to have a personal trainer that is insane.


Stacy Napier 10 years, 5 months ago

Oh I get the issue. This district is all about fancy things and short on teaching children. My child spent every Friday in 6th grade watching movies as the weekly you didn't get into trouble reward. Hey they had money for the carpet in the JHS in the halls and new bigger lockers, What was wrong with the tile floors? When I was in highschool I had to share a locker. We just had some extra money to use.

What I don't get is how people in this country think that sports are everything. Sports do nothing to improve humanity, build intelligance or make our county better. If you look back at when this county was becoming a world power we have very little sports in the schools. The focus was on increasing knowledge, Science, Engeneering etc.

It sure wasn't because we could play basketball.

Lets get back to teaching our children.


cgcampbell 10 years, 4 months ago

I agree teaching our children should always come first and I agree fees need to be raised to help out with costs. I was making a comment within reason about the amount $$$ Sports are very helpful as well for financial scholorships to help out for future education in college. Every bit helps, especially now when financial aid is not what it used to be in going to college. Yes, I know there are academic sch. as well but like I said it all helps with the costs. Having such high fees makes it impossible for some to participate.

I had an uncle who received a football sch. for K State as well as financial/academic aid to receive his degree in Veterinarian Med.


plenning 10 years, 4 months ago

" If the rumor is true the cheerleaders are budgeted to have a personal trainer that is insane."

RUMOR is a correct word. As the coach, I am funding a conditioning coach for a month.


jmyrick 10 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for rumor control, Patty. That's a good thing.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.