Archive for Thursday, May 13, 2010

Patrons plea to school board

Abbi Carlson, a freshman at Baldwin High School, spoke out in favor of junior high athletics during Monday's Baldwin School Board meeting. Junior High athletics and closing the rural elementary schools were the hot-topic items Monday night.

Abbi Carlson, a freshman at Baldwin High School, spoke out in favor of junior high athletics during Monday's Baldwin School Board meeting. Junior High athletics and closing the rural elementary schools were the hot-topic items Monday night.

May 13, 2010

Susan England speaks at school board meeting

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On Monday night, Baldwin City resident Susan England voiced her opinion regarding the rural elementary schools in the school district. She was one of 37 patrons who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting. Enlarge video

Darren Owings talks at school board meeting

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On Monday night, Baldwin City resident Darren Owings voiced his opinion about not cutting seventh grade athletics. He was one of 37 patrons who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting. Enlarge video

Baldwin School District patrons came out in droves Monday night to the monthly school board meeting.

Most of the patrons were there to support seventh grade athletics or speak about the possibility of closing one of the rural elementary schools. Of the nearly 90 people at the meeting, 37 stood up and voiced their opinions.

The strongest support group was the seventh-grade sports contingent. That group also included patrons who were against cutting activities, which are around 2 percent of the district’s budget.

“If you cut 7th grade athletics, I want you to tell my 12-year-old son or any other 7th grader why they are less than any other student in this school district,” Kimberly Wolff said to the school board.

At the May 3 meeting, the idea of cutting seventh-grade athletics was discussed by school board members. The Louisburg district has cut its seventh-grade sports programs for next year. The school board estimated the district could save around $25,000 if seventh-grade sports were cut.

On Monday, parents and students from Baldwin High School and Baldwin Junior High School came to speak their minds. Fourteen people stood up and said don’t cut seventh-grade athletics during the public input portion of the meeting.

“Junior High athletics have the most participation in the district,” said Darren Owings, a parent. “I don’t understand why you would cut something that is participated in by so many students. I don’t know why you would hurt those kids.”

Owings even made the school board and a number of audience members laugh with one of his comments.

“You’d also be losing tradition,” he said. “I’m from Wellsville and I understand there is some tradition in Baldwin.”

Others were interested in the future of the programs, because they want their children to be a part of BJHS teams.

“I have two small children and I want them to play sports,” Carrie Barth said. “My nephew will be in 7th grade next year and he is a great athlete. I hate to think I might not get to see him play next year.”

It wasn’t just parents that spoke Monday night. BHS and BJHS students also wanted their opinions to be heard. Abbi Carlson, a freshman at BHS, doesn’t want athletics to be cut because many of her friendships were started during junior high sports’ seasons.

“I can honestly say that most of my friends were made from being on a sports team,” Carlson said. “I can make a list of my friends and most were on one of my teams.”

Corey Valentine, a seventh grader at BJHS, wanted the board to keep seventh grade sports, even though the cut wouldn’t directly affect her. She even handed the board a signed petition to keep seventh-grade athletics.

“It won’t affect me, but I don’t want sports to be cut,” she said. “We won league titles in volleyball, basketball and track this year.”

Valentine’s mother, Marilee Valenetine, who is a teacher and coach at BJHS, said she was shocked when she heard the news last week. She also wanted everybody to know that sports aren’t separated from education, although they are extra-curricular activities.

“When I heard about this, it floored me,” she said. “Education and sports go together. There is so much that kids can learn from sports. Hard work and discipline are just a couple.”

Brenda Shawley, also a BJHS teacher and coach, reiterated M. Valentine’s point. She talked about how her teams are honored by the Kansas State High School Activities Association for team grade-point average. Shawley said that excites her more than winning, because she knows her team members are excelling in the classroom, too.

Ed Kite also agreed with M. Valentine.

“I don’t view this dilemma as sports versus education,” he said. “It’s all education. If you spend equitably, we can give students a good education that includes sports, art and other programs in this district.”

However, some patrons of Marion Springs and Vinland elementary schools didn’t see how sports were as important as teaching young children.

“I think it’s the lesser of two evils,” said Jill Cannon, who teaches physical education at both rural schools. “I have to say seventh-grade athletics aren’t as important as teaching elementary students.”

Although seventh-grade athletics drew a lot of attention Monday, the other hot topic was the possibility of closing one or two rural elementary schools. Several parents felt strongly that now is the proper time to close the buildings.

“It is time to combine our four elementary schools,” said Amy Berg, a parent and former kindergarten teacher in the district. “They are all great schools, but what makes each school great isn’t the building, it’s what’s inside those buildings. We may find out that we get something even better if we combine our schools.”

Ashley Strand, who teaches a third- and fourth-grade combined classroom at MSES, quickly disagreed with Berg.

“There is never a good time to close one of those schools,” Strand said. “Bigger schools aren’t good for every student.”

Several other patrons spoke after Strand and Berg. Some were in favor of closing the schools, while a few others want their schools kept open.

One of the final comments of the night came from Brad Wright. He gave the board something to chew on for the rest of the night.

“I think the board has to decide if we’re going to be three districts or one,” he said. “Bottom line is are we three districts or are we one district?”

Comments

Torch 4 years, 6 months ago

I guess people just don't understand that there isn't any money to pay for all of this. Maybe they're used to how they finance their personal lives - just keep putting it on the credit card.

I say keep the elementary schools open and let the families they support pay for them.

“There is never a good time to close one of those schools,” Strand said. “Bigger schools aren’t good for every student.”

So you're saying if I want my children to attend those schools you'll let me? What if my children would do better in a smaller classroom? What if 200 people thought the same thing and all wanted to come to MS? That's just a stupid comment. Moreover the entire attitude of the MS mafia is selfish and has been for years. Those schools should have been shut down 10 years ago.

The children those schools support eventually have to drive to Baldwin anyway. It's time to cut the gravy from our budget and the fact of the matter is the sattelite schools - especially MS - are luxuries that can no longer be afforded...and frankly they're sucking down resources in disproportionate amounts compared to the rest of the district. The people of Baldwin should not be subsidizing the convenience of a handful of families.

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greyghost 4 years, 6 months ago

Torch wants another bond issue to build another elementary school in Baldwin. He thinks it's wise to close the buildings that are paid for and operating smoothly in order to get another tax hike when the time comes to build, build, build. This dude is a joke:(

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NanCrisp 4 years, 6 months ago

“They are all great schools, but what makes each school great isn’t the building, it’s what’s inside those buildings." Amy Berg is absolutely right about this. If we hadn't elected to waste valuable resources in constructing a new elementary school building, we would have those resources available to retain teachers, activities, programs and sports. A lot of programs could be funded with the money that's being spent on a superfluous school building.

Torch says, "I say keep the elementary schools open and let the families they support pay for them." Good point, also. Along the same lines, I say keep the athletics and let the families that want to participate pay for them.

I do not at all believe that the kids who play organized sports at school make better employees later in life than kids who have received an appropriate education in math, science, and the English language. I have interviewed and hired numerous people for numerous companies, and their athletic abilities and/or backgrounds have never been direct factors, while their command of the English language and their ability to reason effectively always matter the most. Sports are great passtimes for most people and temporary careers for some, but do not add nearly as much value to our economy as core curricula. When finances are down, something's got to give, and sports simply do not compare in overall value to core education.

Take a close look at the arguments that were made by these people in support of athletics programs. It's all about having fun and making friends. They don't want to keep taxpayers supporting these programs because they are good for the economy, not even for the purpose of getting people to attend 7th grade sports events and pay to be spectators. No, it's all about kids having a good time. Well, that's fine. People like to have a good time, but education funded by tax money is not about providing people with good times. It's about providing a society with a strong economy.

Give us some strong, well-supported arguments based on how 7th grade sports in B.C. add value to the economy. Then compare and contrast those arguments with the strong, well-supported arguments based on how lower teacher/pupil ratios at elementary schools add value to the economy. Then let's have a rational discussion rather than an emotional one about how to most effectively utilize limited resources.

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NanCrisp 4 years, 6 months ago

greyghost: You know as well as everyone else does that Torch has been the most vocal opponent of the recent bond issue to build a new elementary school.

Looks to me like it was just over half of the voters in the Nov. 2008 election who favored closing "buildings that are paid for." And as for "operating smoothly," routine maintenance and attention to problems before they become disasters are effective in keeping even very old buildings operating smoothly. In B.C., the build, build, build ideology is unfortunately decoupled from the necessary maintain, maintain, maintain ideology that should provide taxpayers with investment value over time.

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Spiderpig 4 years, 6 months ago

I finally agree with Torch on something.

Nan: I don't totally understand school funding but I know that the money used to build new buildings can not be used for the necessary things that you mentioned. That is government funding at its best.

I am not a fan of getting rid of sports at any level. I think that participating in sports, or any extracurricular activity, instill values that can not be taught in the classroom. You are not going to hire a person because they played sports. You are going to hire them because of the person they have become because of sports. If the board cuts 7th grade sports now, what is next? Art, debate, music.....one of these will surely hit home to you.

Marion Springs has been a luxury that we can no longer afford, but unfortunately probably will. Being "three districts" no longer makes sense or cents. The outlying schools are great but I don't think that closing one or both of them has a long term negative effect on our district. Luckily for both of these schools there are some strong minded families protecting them (as they should). They obviously have elected the right board members to defend them and will not vote to close them no matter what is right for the district as a whole. I applaud those who can see the big picture and try to do what is best for USD 348.

With the new tax bill being "passed" (It has not been signed yet, right?) I am afraid that cuts are done and we will be content running "paycheck to paycheck" without anything extra in case of an emergency. Even though this bill just guesses how much money it will raise, they have no idea of an exact amount or how it will be spent. I hope, for our districts sake, that we don't get hit with more cuts next year. Mr. Dorathy stated that we will not be able to make the necessary cuts if we are.

Something else that no one mentions, and maybe no one cares about. Teachers have not been given raises for years. They have understood that there is no money in the budget for raises so they have not complained too much. But now, when there are cuts that could be made, and are not being made, I am afraid there will be more concerns. All board members have said that we have a very good staff. Mr. Lauridsen even stated that we may want to start rewarding the staff with incentives. If we fail to do this, I am afraid that we may start losing these people to other schools where they do feel wanted, and respected.

I just hope we can come together as a district and do what is right for our communities, districts, and students. This is a great place to be, with great schools, and great people. I just hope our budget issues don't tear us all apart.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 6 months ago

What I find surprising is Torch making comments about smaller class sizes when that has already been determined that the class size isn't the issue. The BESPC & BESIC have almost the same class size as MSES and VSE, but yet they out lying schools perform better then the in town equivalents . The only reason for this I can come up with is better teachers and a better environment. I have no problems with closing these outlying schools as long as you can guarantee me that they will retain those teachers from the outlying schools and will not dramatically increase class size.

Torch's other comment about letting the parents who kids attend MSES or VSE pay for the outlying schools themselves is juvenile. So I take it all the increase money those parents in the outlying area are paying for that new Elementary school will be refunded to them since they get no real benefit from it since it's currently only for the in town kids?? As for the rest of Torch's comments are really just ignorant and inflammatory. Please think before you post such uninformed statements that only push to divide people even more.

Still it boggles my mind that you would even for ONE SECOND contemplate closing the best performing schools in the entire Douglas County School district just to keep sports programs which are really just secondary to the real job of the schools which is educating our children. If you as a parent really feel that sports is so valuable to the education of your children then bring them down to the Baldwin Rec department and I'm sure you can find activities there for them. Bottom line is the schools job is to educate our children in Math, Science, and English. The last time I looked how fast you run the 100 meter or how far you can throw a football doesn't appear on many job applications.

Also I would once again like to propose the idea I had on another article of combining all our sports programs with another local school. This way we can split the costs and the best performing athletes with a real chance of scholarships would still get to show their ability. While some might say this would limit competition with in the district. I would counter it's better then eliminating the programs altogether or raising the activity fees so high that families that can barely afford it now would have to just have to pull their kids from the programs, these are the alternatives to which we are facing now.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 6 months ago

Baldwindad - MS and Vinland are not performing significantly better academically than the in-town schools. But, they are draining resources at a significant rate. Cutting 7th grade athletics for a savings of $25,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the approximate $300,000 savings of combining schools. These two issues are mutually exclusive and we may need to do both, but clearly, cutting 7th grade sports is really not a significant savings, and potentially very harmful for the reasons many of the parents who attended the meetings mentioned.

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carlson 4 years, 6 months ago

Nan- I am the mother of the 15 year old that you are making condescending remarks about in your comment. So let me be clear - my child is a 4.0 honor roll student that participates in a multiple activities. She is in FCCLA, FCA, STUCO, volleyball, is active in her church youth group and supports her community as well. I can assure you that she speaks fluent english as she is in Honors English as well as Honors Math. She stated she did not have all the facts and figures the school board did and did not pretend to. But if you want facts and figures here you go. These facts and figures have been compiled from the USD #348 Fact Finding Committee Report.

BES PC  BES IC  combined PC & IC    MSES    VES

students K-2 204 0 49 41

students 3-5 0 225 42 41

total # students 204 225 429 91 82 avg total cost/student $4,383 $4,290 $4,337 $4,950 $5,673

Additonal cost per student per year vs PC $567 $1,290 Additonal cost per student per year vs IC $660 $1,383 Additonal cost per student per year vs IC & PC $614 $1,337

Total cost of K-5 education per student $26,019 $29,700 $34,038 Additional cost of total K-5 education per student vs PC/IC $3,681 $8,019 % greater spent per student vs PC/IC 14% 31% Using current district # and does not include additional cost of having 2 Principals at VES & MES in previous years

Additonal $165,000/year spent versus if cost per MSES & VES student was the same as PC/IC cost per student

Data Source: USD 348 website, The Fact Finding Committee Report, April 2010

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greyghost 4 years, 6 months ago

Close 'em down. Both of them. Just remember, by 2012 you will be presented another bond issue for more classrooms, buildings, gymnasiums, etc. Of course, 12.12.2012 will be the catastrophic end to the universe (including Baldwin City) that we know and love, so I guess it really doesn't matter anyway.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 6 months ago

BLoggerboo...I"m not sure where you have heard that but they are by test scores and achievements.

http://www.greatschools.org/cgi-bin/cs_compare/ks/?level=e&area=m&zip=66006&miles=25&lat=38.776890&lon=-95.187759&sortby=distance&tab=acad

MSES has consistently been one of the best schools in the entire state much less the district. Not to mention they have received the Governor's Award for the last 4 years.

Like I said, i don't have a problem with closing them to reduce cost as long as you can assure me this will not increase class size.

Also greyghost is right as soon as you close them be preapared for your kids to be learning in trailers since we wont have room in the new school. Then be prepared for the new school bankd to enlarge the new school to accommodate.

Really, to me it seems we just have allot of short sighted people who really have a complete lack of compassion for their fellow Baldwin Citizens simply because they live outside of town.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 6 months ago

BaldwinDad - those don't look like "significantly" better scores than, say, the IC. 1% in math, 3% in reading, which is what I said in my first post. I doubt you will see a serious decline in any child's education if/when we close MS and Vinland. However, if we don't close them, we may very well see a serious decline in the overall educational opportunities available to ALL of the children in this district.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 6 months ago

Bloggerboo, it's nice you can make those assumptions that the educational experience will not suffer, but I don't. Also for the recorded you were the one that said "significantly", I just said they were better and they are.

The worst part of this is that even if you do close these outlying schools you will have no place to put those students. So as long as your ready kids being crammed into the same class room or forced to use the gym as a class room then fine, but I cannot see how closing schools that the district never planned on closing two years ago is not going to impact the over all education of every student in those grades.

I'm sorry but it sounds like to me no matter how you cut it this is the in town residents against the rural residents. I don't see allot people at all looking to do what is truly best for the kids. The reason I have this opinion is due to the comments that I hear made not just on this board but around town. All hear is how the outlying school parents have it been selfish or their children going to a better school is a luxury. Then their is the mis-information about class sizes and whcih school is truly better. The only thing I'm sure of if you close all the out lying schools then you will have to find room for those kids and at this time we don't have any space in town for them and more then likely the school board will be coming back in year asking for more money to build on to the current elementary centers, when we have those perfectly good buildings sitting out there collecting dust.

My suggestion is to bite the bullet increase the taxes now keep them open till the budget increases and we can increase the size of the in town schools to accommodate closing the outlying ones versus closing them during a budget crisis and cramming kids into trailers or gymnasiums just to solve a short term problem.

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CitizenCope 4 years, 6 months ago

Special Education on the elementary school level takes place at BES through ECKCIE, so one must factor that into comparing test scores between schools.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 6 months ago

Bdad - Yes, I said significantly, and that is exactly what I meant. It isn't significant enough to make that a good argument for keeping those schools open, because the education is just as viable, if not quite (a mere percentage point different from MS) on the same level. And Vinland is already lower on those precious test scores than BESIC.

We will have room for those kids when the new building is finished. We planned it as a possibility when we designed it. Although maybe not perfect, no one will be in a gym for a regular class. Get your facts straight, sir, and stop spreading this selfish attitude you have towards those expensive schools. All of those kids come here after five years in school anyway.

Yes, times are tough and they require tough decisions. Closing schools to eliminate a variety of resource and financial drain on the budgets is something every district deals with, and if it is the right decision, it should be done.

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rochester 4 years, 6 months ago

CitizenCope - Special education services are available at all of the elementary schools.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 6 months ago

Bloggerboo, I really get tired of discussing semantics with you, but I simply stated it was better and it is, MSE is the best public school grades K-5 in the entire Douglas County district.

Also Bloggerboo, it is not selfish attitude to want your child to go to the best schools or the one closest to your home. It's called being a concerned parent and I'm sorry if your not one but allot of people are. Also stop spreading your ignorance on the internet with statements like they planned on this when they built the new schools.

Wallsmith has already stated in a previous School Board meeting that if you were to close both the outlying schools the new IC would be at capacity. So with normal growth the school would be over capacity in less then 2 years. The solution for this would be overcrowded classrooms, trailers and makeshift classrooms, adding on to an already expensive new school or reopening an "outlying" school. Then you would have to calculation the repairs due to neglect over the years.

Also that vaunted $300k dollar savings you all like to throw around is only if your letting go of a significant number of staff which would mean increased class sizes and less services FOR ALL the kids not just the outlying families.

So if this is your idea of planning?? A school that will barely be able to fit all the kids and would over grown in less then 2 years?? The School Board has said on several occasions that they never planned on closing the outlying schools when they were planning on the new 12.5 million dollar elementary school or the new IC center. So really those outlying parents who are now paying for the school bond have been subsidizing the in town schools cost for some years, while their children attend a 50+ year old schools and take art and music classes in a trailer, but yet those students seem to somehow maintain better scores if not similar then their in town contemporaries. I wonder have any of you ever even driven out to MSE or VSE?? Those schools are by no means a luxury.

So really as you can see if not blinded by ignorance closing the outlying schools is by no means a solution to the long term problems we are facing. Unless you don't consider a new million plus school bond before 2015 a problem or kids crammed into trailers a problem. Until the School Board or the Superintendent come up with a REAL solution to the problem, I will not support them closing the outlying schools.

Also please don't go blaming the parents for their concern over their children well being put the blame at these crisis where it rightly falls the School Board and Superintendent, who poorly planned when they made the designs for the increases they asked for.

http://signal.baldwincity.com/news/2010/mar/25/school-board-hears-budget-cutting-numbers/

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BCMom 4 years, 6 months ago

Currently Baldwin City has the capacity to school 880 elementary students; this is including BEPS at 320, BEICS at 280, VES at 140, and MSES at 140. According to both the Enrollment Report (http://usd348.com/?dl_id=52) and the Facility Planning Report (http://usd348.com/?dl_id=53) the reason why we were building the new primary center was to prepare for growth in enrollment. That being said, with the new primary center being able to hold 480 students instead of 320, the total amount of students that would be able to be taught would be 1040 with both MES and VES staying open. If we closed MES and VES, that would bring the total capacity down to 760. Why would we spend all that money to have less capacity than what we started?

I understand needed to cut the budget, especially after all the money we’ve spent in our tax dollars to build this new primary center, but wouldn’t closing MSES and VES be like shooting ourselves in the foot by making the problem worse? According to the Enrollment Report, by the 2016/2017 school year, we’re expecting between 677 and 884 in enrollment in the elementary level. Considering for the 2009/2010 they were expecting between 629 and 735, and actual enrollment was 687 which is just a little higher than the average of the two numbers, I’ve decided to use the average of 677 and 884 which is 780. With that number of 780, that means we would actually be over capacity in our elementary schools in merely 6 years. Surely, this isn’t what we had in mind when we planned these new schools, is it? The sad thing is, we would have been able to handle 780 with the schools we currently have.

It seems to me we’re now going to have our children suffer, and yes, they would suffer larger teacher to student ratios, because of some very poor planning by the school board. Regardless of what some of the people post on here, the numbers don’t lie. Marion Springs is a superior school, one of the best schools in Kansas. Having Marion Springs test scores helps bring more tax revenue into our district and our county for our schools.

Those that post that BEICS is just a few percentage points lower, would they continue to be that high if there were larger classroom sizes? For just one example of how class size can effect student performance, please visit http://www.aera.net/uploadedFiles/Journals_and_Publications/Research_Points/RP_Fall03.pdf. There are many other studies, if you need more sources, I would be happy to provide them for you.

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Julie Craig 4 years, 6 months ago

It's people like you, Bloggerboo, that create the problems we are now facing. Why close buildings that are paid for and well maintained in favor of cramming all the elementary students into the Baldwin elementary schools? This school district has had a reputation for short sighted planning for a long time. How do you think the parking situation at graduation is going to be????

It has nothing to do with being "3 Districts or 1" as someone said at the meeting. It's about common sense.

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voice_of_student 4 years, 6 months ago

I believe Abbi Carlson made a great point us + sports = new frienships. Her and i are a perfect example NanCrisp.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 6 months ago

Voice, while I'm happy you've made a friend through your experience in 7th grade sports, this can also be accomplished by going down to the Rec Center to participate in sports and activities or just volunteering around your local community.

No offense, but the main purpose of education is to teach children how to become productive members of society. An while sports might help you with socialization skills, responsibility and accountability. You can also learn those skills in Math, Science, and English classes which provide a far more valuable skill set for later in life.

Also I do applaud you for coming on here and participating in this discussion. A lot of people on here tend to forget while they are arguing with each other that children and young adults like yourself should also have a say in the future of their schools.

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Stacy Napier 4 years, 6 months ago

Spiderpig

Playing sports intsall values. I don't think so. Just look at the two fine football players from KU, There have been numerous others showing poor values.

Parents and family are supposed to install values not school or sports. But that would require the parents to be home and parent.

The board made a good move cutting top admin posiltions and doubling the activities fees, but the sports programs should be 100% self supportive. The user fees should pay all the costs.

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Spiderpig 4 years, 6 months ago

None of this matters anymore. The board has made their cuts. 7th grade sports will survive, the outlying moneypits will stay open, and the board will wonder how we dig out of another hole when the state cuts funding next year. Maybe we should just cut and paste all of these discussions again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that........

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Stacy Napier 4 years, 6 months ago

You know how they will dig out ot it. The same fix they always have build a new school or facility. Tack a bond onto our taxes. It's all part of their master plan. The new Junior High is next.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps, it's time to address the real problem the School Board and Superintendent.

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straightforward 4 years, 6 months ago

GreatGazoo is correct that our school district has been short-sighted for a long time. As a result, we have limped along with these two country grade schools for far too long. If we had assessed the long-term needs of our district ten years ago, we would have seen that it was imprudent to leave them open. Imagine how much money has been spent inefficiently over the last ten years and think about all the other ways we could have used it. We could actually be paying our teachers what they deserve. We could improve the access to technology in the classroom. We could make capital improvements to our district without massive bond issues that raise our taxes even higher. Unfortunately, we can't go back ten years and make a different decision. We can however take a long-term view of what is best for our whole district starting now.

And on a slightly different but related note... how well a student performs in school can be directly related to the involvement of their parents in their education. My suspicion is that this has contributed largely to the test scores of MSES students. I know many MSES parents and I commend them for being very proactive in the education of their children (I assume Vinland parents are proactive as well, I just happen to know a lot more MSES parents). They are models of great parenthood for the love and attention they show their children. But look at the test scores BaldwinDad posted; I don't see MSES being the best grade school in the area, I see USD 348 schools being the best in the area, and I don't think that will change so long as parents stay involved in their children's education. Judging by the high level of input many have contributed at board meetings and on this forum, it doesn't appear that parent involvement is on the decline ;)

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Stacy Napier 4 years, 6 months ago

Short-sighted is an understatement. How do you propose and build a brand new intermediate center and then in a few years a brand new primary center and not build them big enough to move the two outlying schools in at that point. Millions of dollars spent on these and you have a blank slate and you can't make them big enough.

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hipgrrrrl 4 years, 6 months ago

Wasn't there some questionable amount missing from the accounts back when Dorothy came on board? Somewhere around the $300,000 mark? Did anyone ever find out where the leak was?

The inability of our school board and certain members of our community to plan for anything remotely resembling a realistic future is appalling. There has been idiotic decision after idiotic decision made regarding our schools in the measly five years I've been here - and of course, according to local lore, it didn't begin then. At this point, I have no hope that any significant level of common sense will suddenly rise up and bite anyone.

I find it quite curious that certain people are so defensive while defending the aforementioned decisions. Frankly, outright mortification would be more appropriate.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 6 months ago

I agree Hipgrrrrl, it always amazes me how people have lashed out at the out lying schools, yet it wasn't there fault. An to make matters worse is if we do close the outlying schools with out properly planning for it ALL the children will suffer.

As I have said before we need to seriously look and see if Dorathy is the right person for the job, because so far I'm not impressed at all with the job he is doing.

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Spiderpig 4 years, 6 months ago

What are you blaming on Dorathy? Go to a school board meeting and see what he does. He can only make suggestions to the board. They chose to follow his guidance or not. I would say that he is the best Super. that we have had in the last 15 years. He came into a horrible situation and had us on the right track to digging out of the hole left by the last guy and the mysterious $300,000 hole he dug. If it wasn't for the state SNAFU we would be in good shape.

Again, I don't know why you are still talking about the outer schools being closed. If the school board didn't have the guts to close them this year, they never will. The world will end, civilizations will cease to be, and those two schools will still be open. You people and your board members have won. Congratulations.

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hipgrrrrl 4 years, 6 months ago

So, where did the $300,000 go? Anyone? Is it just AWOL and that's the end of it? It seems like there should be a way to figure out where it went, even if there is no hope of retrieving it. That's a lot of money to just shrug one's shoulders and sigh about.

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Julie Craig 4 years, 6 months ago

Come on people . . . That ship has sailed. The way I remember it being reported is: The $300,000 was a payment on a contract that didn't get recorded. Then the payment came due and that money was already spentt. There was little or no training of the staff in the central office and it was a bookkeeping error. No one "took" the money.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 6 months ago

BaldwinDad, GreatGazoo, and BCMom -

Let me explain to you my feelings about the school closings without any rancor or holier-than-thou sentiment included whatsoever.

I am not interested in closing the outlying schools because I am jealous of the education those children receive versus the one in town children receive. I am not upset that you have had it good for so long. Congrats to you and your children. Congrats for being concerned about your children's future and their education.

I would not casually and flippantly suggest we close schools just because. I suggest it be considered for the following reasons. Dispute them if you will, but please understand where I am coming from.

  1. The cost savings in closing those schools is significant. If our Board actually must consider cutting sports for an entire grade (7th) to save a mere $25,000, then we are in dire straights. I, for one, would much rather see us combine schools for a serious savings than continue chipping away at cornerstones of education, such as athletics and other extra-curricular activities, and other places we have already cut, like art, P.E, and music, etc.

  2. I would be very concerned about the quality of education and classroom sizes, however, I know it can be managed and done correctly. We have some very high quality administrators here in Baldwin City, and I know that they would ensure the educational opportunities for our children would remain at the highest levels, even if we have to combine for a certain time period.

  3. With the new building coming online this fall, it is important that we get maximum occupancy out of it because the state gives us more money for using new buildings. So, the savings would go up significantly when you include this with the closing of one or two other buildings.

A question for the MS and Vin parents: at what point will you consider closing those schools? Will there ever come a time when you might realize that if we don't, the entire district may go bankrupt? Or will there ever come a time that you realize keeping them open is hurting all of our children, yours included, once they hit 6th grade - 12th grade? Textbooks are old and out of date. Same with technology and many facilities. And a few teachers, as well, although that is not directly a budget problem. :)

Everything about a school district depends upon budget. Sacrifices have to be made, and I, for one, view closing the outlying schools a pretty small one compared to the sacrifices being made by teachers, coaches, administrators and students in 6-12th grades. Your children will receive an excellent education here in Baldwin City, and for you to think otherwise appears selfish and short-sighted.

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Julie Craig 4 years, 6 months ago

What are the plans for the buildings when and if the outlying schools and the old P.C. are closed? Will the I.C. and new P.C. be available for youth basketball/softball/4H/family reunions etc etc etc for the community as a whole?

Will we immediately have to build new classrooms for expansion at the I.C.? Will we have to build new office space for the Central Office/Board of Education? Will we have to find a new space for the wrestling/cheerleader practices?

Sounds like more money to me....

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 6 months ago

What are the plans for the buildings when and if the outlying schools and the old P.C. are closed? I don't know, but I know there would be a definite plan put into place. I am not on the board, so I won't have any direct input on the plans.

Will the I.C. and new P.C. be available for youth basketball/softball/4H/family reunions etc etc etc for the community as a whole? Yes, they already are being used this way.

Will we immediately have to build new classrooms for expansion at the I.C.? Maybe. We'd have to see the plan, but until MS and Vin parents are at least willing to entertain the idea, there is apparently no reason to go very far developing a plan.

Will we have to build new office space for the Central Office/Board of Education? This is in the works no matter what, so it is a moot point. But, since it will cost money, we need to start finding significant savings somewhere.

Will we have to find a new space for the wrestling/cheerleader practices? This is already in the works also, so yes. And again, that means we need to find savings to accommodate these upcoming changes.

Sounds like more money to me.... Yes, you are exactly right, which is why we need to find savings.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 6 months ago

Bloggerboo...I will try to respond once again to all your statements in the order you made them. 1.) Yes, the saving in closing one or both of the rural schools would be significant, but it needs to be done correctly, as I have stated SEVERAL times in my other posts. My problem is the huge savings comes at the cost of firing the staff. By doing so means a higher student to teacher ratio which means all 700+ elementary students (not just the 189 rural students). Studies have shown that bigger class sizes equals lower test scores. As of yet, I have not seen a solid action plan on how the school board would accomplish closing any of the schools, and accommodate all the kids, since we all know at this point there is not enough room for all the children in the IC.

2.) I'm glad you know it can be managed. It must be nice to be so sure of something that the educators and leaders of this community aren't even sure of. I for one DON'T think it can be managed correctly since everything up to this point has shown me that the so called "quality" administrators (as you put it), have made plenty of very POOR choices when it comes to the education of our children. Just the fact that you insinuate that school district should combine the schools for a certain amount of time speaks volumes of your lack of understanding of the situation you're addressing.

3.) I understand that it's important to maximize our investments in the new school, but as BCMom has pointed out to you and so has several others that the new PC will have barely enough room for now, but in a few years will be at or over capacity, and the IC will be at maximum capacity within the first year. Also if the reason for this new bond was to increase the capacity, why would we close schools, and lower our capacity? Where are you getting your information about money from the State of Kansas if we fill the schools to capacity? I would love to see that source.

Bloggerboo, I'm not sure how many times I'm going to have to respond to rantings about the closings of rural schools. It's obvious you have no real understanding of the full scope of the situation. The problem is once you close the rural schools there's no going back, since the true savings is not in closing the building but in firing STAFF. Which means people losing their jobs. Do you expect these people will wait around a year or two until we re-open the rural schools so they can have their job back? I guess maybe I didn't get the memo where you said you would let them live at your house until we want to re-hire them. That is the true savings in these proposed closing. The firing of experienced teachers who educate all of our children, not just the closing of buildings and once they're gone there is no getting those quality educators back.

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