Archive for Thursday, May 20, 2010

School board discusses future of rural schools

May 20, 2010

Although the Baldwin School Board didn’t vote to close any schools last week, it was a hot topic of discussion.

After a lengthy public comment portion of the May 10 meeting, where nearly 20 people spoke about the rural elementary schools, the school board had its own discussion on the topic. In the end, no decision was made to close a school, but opinions were spoken during the meeting.

“I think we need to have the school closing conversation,” Board Member Scott Lauridsen said. “I think the only reason we would do that is to reduce the number of teachers we have.”

Board Member Josh Mihesuah, who had been quiet on the subject, agreed with Lauridsen.

“I think we have to look seriously at closing a building,” he said. “We can nickel and dime this all we want, but are we being responsible by not closing a building?”

On the same day, the legislature approved the state’s budget, which didn’t contain any cuts to the school funding. That was a surprise to school board members, as the district was preparing for a possible $500,000 cut to next year’s budget.

The school board did approve a plan that cuts around $390,000 from the 2010-2011 budget. Those cuts included some staff positions and other small items, but no larger items, such as closing a school, or going to a four-day school week or elementary attendance centers.

“I don’t think we could close two schools and I’m not proposing we close two schools,” Lauridsen said. “But I do think it feels like now is the right time, because we are forced to and we’ve got too many other areas.”

Board Members Ruth Barkley and Blaine Cone suggested redrawing the boundary lines for the elementary schools. They presented a map of the district that located where elementary students are in the district. They said redrawing the lines would help even out class sizes in the four schools.

The discussion continued as Lauridsen and Mihesuah thought the board needed to look at closing a school, while Barkley and Cone opposed the idea.

“The outlying schools are fantastic and I’m a big supporter,” Lauridsen said. “No one is questioning those kids get a great education. Why is that? It’s not the building. The staff has changed and the administration has changed. It’s the parents and their involvement in the community. How does that change if they go to a different building five or seven miles away?”

The lack of action by the board sparked a group of Baldwin City patrons to sign a petition demanding that the school board close Marion Springs and Vinland elementary schools. The group has met several times since the last school board meeting. Prior to the meeting, a group of parents presented a petition to keep the schools open.

The next scheduled school board meeting is June 7.

Comments

BaldwinDad 3 years, 11 months ago

“I think we need to have the school closing conversation,” Board Member Scott Lauridsen said. “I think the only reason we would do that is to reduce the number of teachers we have.”“I think we need to have the school closing conversation,” Board Member Scott Lauridsen said. “I think the only reason we would do that is to reduce the number of teachers we have.”

I tried to keep telling all you people that are constantly saying the rural schools are a luxury or wasteful. What the rural schools do is keep the quality of education better for all the kids.

The only reason the School Board would wants to close them is to eliminate teachers. Basically, there is no real savings by closing the buildings only by firing staff/teachers do you get any real savings. This means that we end up with 20-25 teacher to student ratios versus the 14-17 we have now and the quality of the education for all are children goes down, it wont matter if your child attends a rural school or the city one.

Perhaps we need more administrative cuts...personally I think we could eliminate allot more waste at the top.

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straightforward 3 years, 11 months ago

Am I missing something??? How does redrawing the boundary lines so we can even out the class sizes save us any money???

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Torch 3 years, 10 months ago

Labor is the most expensive part of every budget. If you want to make a serious dent in the budget shortfall you have to let people go. It's just the way it is.

When I was in school my class sizes were 25 - 30 in every case. We seemed to get along ok.

Talk of larger classrooms is nothing but fear-mongering tactics that are so commonly used by the education system to scare us into shelling out more money for mediocre performance.

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Bloggerboo 3 years, 10 months ago

BaldwinDad -

Let me throw some numbers at you.

106+83=189 students enrolled this year at MS and Vinland, combined.

418+339=757 students enrolled at BHS and BJHS, combined.

The cost of maintaining those two outlying schools has cut most of the budgets from the other two schools for a mere 189 students. For example, my child had two textbooks this year dated prior to 1999. My child had to ride to sporting events 3-4 hours early and sit around and wait because the district could not fund the normal second bus because we couldn't afford the extra gas or pay for the second bus driver. So, instead of studying at the library or at home those 3-4 hours, they spent it trying to study in a packed gym in the bleachers, or on a bus ride. Tell me how that promotes an effective learning environment. We have considered cutting sports entirely from the 7th grade, for a mere $25,000.00. Technology is a joke in the high school and junior high. Athletic budgets have been nixed to zero in many cases. Art, drama, and music continue to suffer cuts every year, if not being in peril of being completely eliminated.

Maybe you can't tell from these mundane cuts and rehash of old materials, supplies and technology, but keeping those schools open is hurting 757 students for the sake of 189 other's teacher-to-student ratio? Are you freaking kidding me?

Those sons and daughters of MS and Vin parents will receive an excellent education, even with a slightly increased teacher-to-student ratio, and if you don't believe this then you are making a direct slap in the face of good people like Deb Ehling-Gwin and Dan Wallsmith, and Mr. Dorathy, who are capable of making this work, if we need to do it. And we do need to do it.

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hipgrrrrl 3 years, 10 months ago

Wow. How personal we are getting! Someone's kid is doing without because of those selfish SOB's who dare put their kid in an available school that is providing great education. How can those wretched MS and V parents sleep at night? On top of THAT, their desire to keep their kids in these stellar schools is a heinous insult to school administrators that work elsewhere. How dare they! What terrible people!

How's this: I, for one, know that due to the No Child Left Behind teaching (or lack thereof) methods, my child will FLOUNDER in a class size of 25 - 30. My kid has had caring and attentive teachers so far and lots of help at home but if you have your way, BloggerBoo, YOUR child will benefit and MY child will suffer. Hmmmm....nope. Can't say that the indignity of your child having to study while on a school bus trumps my child's need to have a good education. Nope - just can't make that work for me.

Bottom line is that we live in a society where there are those that do have and those who do not. Obviously, life is much better for all if the havers share with the non-havers. There is, however, inequality. As my mother told me quite often (although perhaps there are those who never heard this), life is not fair. If my child attends a school with larger class sizes, she will be doing without. If your child continues to attend USD 348 as it is currently organized, they will have to do without.

Back to the point of my first paragraph: What an offensive way to debate your position.

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Bloggerboo 3 years, 10 months ago

Offensive to point out that we are over-serving 189 kids to the detriment of some 757 kids, some of whom once attended the precious MS and Vin schools? You are out of your mind and off your rocker.

No one makes financial decisions based on the idea that 1/4 will receive extra special attention and that 3/4 will go without. Sure, life isn't fair, but the district can do a hell of lot more to bring it more more closer to fair. And if they don't, shame on them.

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greyghost 3 years, 10 months ago

I haven't gone back through all of your asinine, self-serving posts, but I don't recall you ever being a proponent of school closure. I do remember that you were fairly vicious to anyone who opposed the bond issue that was presented to build a new PC. During your rants about being "pro-bond-issue", did you ever voice your ideals about how the new schools needed to be made large enough to house the rural school population (or any population growth?) I doubt it -- which is exactly why I think your outlook is very short-sighted; just like the leadership we've had in this town for oh-so many years. Let's not make these hasty decisions based on such faulty, short-sighted observations.

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Bloggerboo 3 years, 10 months ago

I couldn't care less what you recall or don't recall. My guess is, you don't recall very much correctly anyway. However, of course I supported closing the schools while the Bond issue was going on. But guess what? The MS and Vin parents wouldn't hear of it, so they shut it down, just like they are doing now.

However, I believe if you look at the numbers, the new school and existing schools will support all current students of this district here in town. Will things be tighter? Yes. Will teacher-to-student ratios be affected? Yes. But, that is the point of making sacrifices so the budgets gets back in balance and everyone gets treated equally (or as close as possible).

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greyghost 3 years, 10 months ago

The fact finding committee has already stated that if MSES and VES are closed, the PC would be below capacity and that the new IC would be at capacity. So, here is where I have a problem with you (and anyone who wants to look at your comment history is able to do so): You, apparently, are very okay with passing bond issues to close down schools and then building new ones. However, I say it is quite wrong to close these schools down right now. Several years down the road (when we've paid off at least one school, preferably two), we will definitely have to look at these options more closely.
The possible population growth that may be imminent with the Intermodal going in is reason enough to table this talk as well. You would be stupid to close down these schools, only to be over capacity in the brand new elementary schools within a few years.
Now you can go back to your talk about cutting teachers in order for all students to be treated fairly (negatively.)
BTW, the Signal's own Jimmy G. found and published the student/teacher ratios at all schools and it was seen that the ratio at all elementary schools were very similar.

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BaldwinDad 3 years, 10 months ago

Bloggerboo...I truly wish you would stop spreading your ignorance on these forums. You do nothing to help the cause of our children and do more to further polarize this issue with your inaccurate information.

You keep pushing this idea that we are sacrificing the education of 757 JH and HS students versus the 189 rural students. But as I pointed out before (link listed below) if the schools were combined and staff were fired, you would be having a negative impact on the education of all the kids that would be attending the IC and the PC, approximately 687 students total, not just he 189 rural students as you keep incorrectly pointing out.

I would also agree to some extent with Hipgrrrl, that the idea of your child not having to sacrifice their time to play in an EXTRACURRICULAR activity versus all the children in elementary school getting more hands on time with a teacher really holds little sway with me in budget cut talks. I personally would advocate more cuts to extracurricular activities if that meant that our children received a better early education. Their are plenty of activities outside of the school that all our children can get in involved in if they want to get some physical activity in a team environment or express themselves in the music and arts.

Bloggerboo you really need to stop these pointless and baseless attacks on the rural families and their children. If you feel that your child is receiving a poor quality education in the JH or HS, then perhaps you need to direct your anger at the people that made that happen, the school board and the administrators, not the other parents who want the same thing you do the best quality education for all our children

Previous article http://signal.baldwincity.com/news/2010/may/13/patrons-plea-school-board/.

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Bloggerboo 3 years, 10 months ago

I have not made any pointless and baseless attacks on rural parents. I have asked, very politely at one point, when they will begin to realize they have it better than everyone else, and they are costing others a good, solid educational experience.

And why do you keep pointing out that link? It says nothing about how student's educations will be negatively affected by combining schools.

I understand that increasing class sizes can affect educational experiences, but it is not so bad as you make it out to be. That is my opinion and I am allowed to state it here. I have faith and trust in the folks running those schools to make that work so that no one is so negatively impacted as to have a lasting, serious impact on their education.

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BaldwinDad 3 years, 10 months ago

Offensive to point out that we are over-serving 189 kids to the detriment of some 757 kids,

That was your statement and completely with out any truth. That too me is a baseless attack. I know several parents who kids currently attend the IC and will be attending the new PC and they do not want the schools combined simply do to the impact it will have on the kids with increased class sizes and poor performance for all kids during their developmental years. The closing of the rural schools will impact all the elementary students, not just the rural students.

As I have said please stop your pointedly negative comments on the rural student and parents, they want what is best for their kids just like you do. If your upset with the education that your child is receiving then take it up with the people who have made the mistakes, the school administrators and the school board, but stop spreading your inaccurate information on the internet.

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BaldwinDad 3 years, 10 months ago

For years, research on class size was inconclusive. Then, in 1985, the state of Tennessee implemented a major class-size reduction initiative in grades K-3 in a way that allowed for one of the best-designed studies in the history of education. The result: Lowering class size substantially improved student achievement.

More evidence can be found within the following studies relating to the impact of class room sizes:

“The Student Teacher Achievement Ratio Study”

“Health & Education Research Operative Services, Inc.”

“Educational Issues Policy Brief”

I agree completely with Greyghost's reply to you post, until we have paid off our current school bonds and can realistically afford to close MSE and VSE, any talk of doing so is ridiculous. I would rather us remove more administrative staff then let go of teachers and see the quality of education drop.

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thingamabobber 3 years, 10 months ago

The schools we have now are full. How does the math work to consolidate without overcrowding the classrooms we have now? My math maybe ain't so good. I am a product of public schools. So please type slow. Thanks.

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