Archive for Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dorathy, school board talk school closings

No decision made Monday, but realities of tight budget bringing more concerns

The Baldwin School Board heard from a handful of patrons about the possibility of closing the rural schools Monday night. The board also had its own discussion later in the meeting.

The Baldwin School Board heard from a handful of patrons about the possibility of closing the rural schools Monday night. The board also had its own discussion later in the meeting.

July 15, 2010

Although a decision wasn’t coming Monday night, patrons on both sides of the elementary school closing issue voiced their opinions at the monthly Baldwin School Board meeting.

The usual crowd of rural and city patrons weren’t the only ones to speak up Monday night. Supt. Paul Dorathy gave his two cents before school board members gave their thoughts.

“We’ve reached a point in our budget that I’m not sure we can support all of the buildings we’ve got right now,” he said Monday evening. “As your superintendent, I’ve backed all of the buildings we have, but I can’t keep sitting back and watching us fall behind. I think the board is going to have to make decisions that aren’t going to be popular.”

During his speech to the school board, Dorathy cited the shrinking budget as the primary reason for needing action. He reiterated that point Tuesday morning, saying the country’s economy has affected the district, too.

“We’ve cut $1.5 million out of our budget the last two years and we’ve had to reallocate another $400,000 for health insurance,” Dorathy said. “So you’re talking almost $2 million that we’ve had to deal with in the last couple of years. It’s reached a point where we can’t keep doing all of the things that we want to do and support all of the things we’re supporting right now without $2 million worth of our budget.

“That’s due to the economy,” he said. “We’re being hit the same way as everybody else and because of that we’re going to have to make some really tough decisions. One of those that we’ve got to consider is how many facilities in this district can we support?”

Most of the budget cuts have come from the Kansas Legislature. The state’s pupil base aid per student has decreased from $4,433 to $4,012 during the last two years. That decrease has taken its toll on the district and its staff.

“We’re continuing to ask our staff not to take a raise,” Dorathy said. “We’ve been cutting staff, programs and budgets. We just can’t keep doing that and support everything we’ve supported in the past.

“We’ve got to come to sort of a resolution,” he added. “We can’t keep fighting with each other. We have to make a decision on what’s best for all students in this district.”

His recommendation was to look at the 2011-2012 school year and have a decision made by December. He said the timeline is important, because he wants to give everyone enough time, but not wait too long before making a decision about the future of the district.

“I don’t think that kind of decision should wait until May, like we did this year,” Dorathy said. “I think that kind of decision needs to be made mid-year, so that we know what’s happening one way or the other. I think that’s why we’ve set the timeline we have, which is to try and make a decision by December. I would say that timeline is tentative, but I also don’t think this thing should drag on.”

Several school board members agreed with Dorathy, including Scott Lauridsen, who said he agreed that the sooner a decision is made, the better for the district. He also said the school board should make a list of possible places to spend the money it would save from closing one or both of the rural elementary schools.

School Board President Alison Bauer, who was re-elected to the position Monday night, approved of Dorathy’s plan.

“We can’t please everybody,” she said. “There is no way we are going to be able to do that. Our district has been torn down. I’m tired of hearing my school district get trashed. We need to make a decision on what’s best for all of our students.”

Board Member Bill Busby said he favored keeping the rural schools open when the district enrollment was growing. He continued to say that was 15 years ago and those schools have the same enrollment numbers as they did then. Busby finished by saying that if Baldwin wants to be competitive as a district, it’s going to have to make sacrifices.

“We’re not doing what’s best for kids,” Busby said. “We’re trying to decide what’s least worst for our students.”

Not everyone wanted to act so quickly. Board Member Ruth Barkley doesn’t want to make a decision too soon, because the district may grow after the Intermodal train shipping hub near Edgerton is built.

“I don’t want to make hasty decisions to where we are closing buildings and then we have a population explosion,” Barkley said. “There’s a significant impact of the Intermodal, especially as close as we are to it.”

During the public comment section of the meeting, 15 patrons addressed the board with their opinions on the state of the district. Most spoke about the possibility of closing Marion Springs and/or Vinland Elementary Schools.

No motion was made Monday night by the school board. It will meet at 6:30 p.m. July 22 at the District Office for a special budget meeting.

Comments

nelsonjoe15 4 years, 5 months ago

You guys should stop complaining cuz one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed give it a try u guys are too hard on democrats they went to college and we voted for most of these people.so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. as for obama people are just tryin to make it look like america made a mistake he has done things to help us and we had a full 8 years of a terrible president and i will be so as happy as ever when a obama fixes bush's mistakes. You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price from http://bit.ly/chE6zp obama has to put up with the wo0rld judging his every move and trying to fix the mess we are in we are lucky anyone wants to be our president. STOP COMPLAINING AND GIVE HIM A BREAK. i wanna see one of yall do what he sas done. some people are just so ignorant.

0

nelsonjoe15 4 years, 5 months ago

You guys should stop complaining cuz one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed give it a try u guys are too hard on democrats they went to college and we voted for most of these people.so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. as for obama people are just tryin to make it look like america made a mistake he has done things to help us and we had a full 8 years of a terrible president and i will be so as happy as ever when a obama fixes bush's mistakes. You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price from http://bit.ly/chE6zp obama has to put up with the wo0rld judging his every move and trying to fix the mess we are in we are lucky anyone wants to be our president. STOP COMPLAINING AND GIVE HIM A BREAK. i wanna see one of yall do what he sas done. some people are just so ignorant.

0

Torch 4 years, 5 months ago

These buildings aren't going to be bull-dozed. You can mothball them and re-open them after you raise the taxes enough to pay for them, since we all know that more taxation is what's 'best for the kids.' Even in their condition right now they need many, many improvements to bring them up to minimal standards...and the rural mafia will want the vast majority of Baldwin to cough up the money to do it.

Sometimes what's 'best for the kids' is to learn a little sacrifice. There's not enough of that out there these days. Apparently their spoiled parents haven't learned that yet either.

People are so quick to spend others' money, especially when it's 'for the kids.' Well, that magic money doesn't exist any more, and frankly the entire country is dealing with two decades of expanding services way too much. Keep passing bonds, LOEs, and raising taxes and you'll definitely slow or stop the growth of the district as few will be able to afford to live here.

0

beevo 4 years, 5 months ago

Children don't sacrifice they adapt. It is the parents that won't change and create the continuing problems.

0

Julie Craig 4 years, 5 months ago

Torch, since you're in the know . . . In what condition are the rural schools?

0

BaldwinDad 4 years, 5 months ago

As someone that has visited both rural schools they are in very good conditions and are in better shape then the JHS is. Torch has no real clue what he/she is talking about, but likes to spout out his/her inflammatory statements to make people think that he/she does.

Actually Torch the "rural mafia" as you put is wanting to open a charter school and not have you fund anything to do with their schools any longer. Since our current school board and administration can't seem to manage to handle the responsibility we have given them sensibly.

I also agree that their is tons of waste going on right now with the School Board and administration, the simple fact that we are wasting millions on new sports fields and listening to people asking them not to cancel extra curricular activities when you are talking about affecting the quality education that is received by half the student body of USD #348. The simply fact that they didn't raise activity fees for students, but yet raised Text Book fees shows how truly flawed the decision making process of our school board has become.

Well, we can sit here and debate till were both blue in the face about the need of keeping the two rural schools open, but the bottom line is there are plenty of other programs to eliminate prior to even considering closing two schools and cramming all the elementary kids into two schools which will be close to or at capacity now and well over capacity in two or three years.

The School Board is duty bond to look at the cuts that are in the best interest of ALL the students and not just a vocal minority that want to keep funding for extra curricular actives at the cost of the core reason for these schools were created, which is providing the best educational resources for are children.

0

BigCat 4 years, 5 months ago

Well said BaldwinDad. I didn't know that there was another group looking into creating charter schools. My wife and I have looked into this as well. Torch, where do I fall since I live in town but want the schools to stay open? Am I part of your Rural Mafia? Does this make you a puppet of the Kite's since they are some of the biggest supporters of closing schools? I have been in Vinland Elementary and its condition is just fine. The School Board is tasked with providing our kids with the best education. This is something that I think that alot of parents and the School Board themselves forget. Extra curricular activities are just that...EXTRA. Give the kids education and quit worrying about other things.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.