Archive for Thursday, October 14, 2010

School board hears concerns from patrons

John Hulce, standing at left, speaks to the Baldwin School Board Monday night during the public comment portion of Monday's meeting.

John Hulce, standing at left, speaks to the Baldwin School Board Monday night during the public comment portion of Monday's meeting.

October 14, 2010

Although there is a public hearing on the issue slated for Nov. 11, more than a dozen Baldwin School District patrons expressed concerns Monday about the possible closing of rural elementary schools.

While the Baldwin School Board didn’t discuss the issue, the small contingent of patrons at the meeting wanted their opinions voiced. A total of 17 people stood up and spoke to the school about the subject, most in opposition to closing Marion Springs and Vinland elementary schools.

“Both of them are good schools, and they are paid for,” said Charlene Potter. “The buildings have been kept up and, despite what some people may say, they are not ready to be bulldozed. Both schools have great outdoor educational opportunities for the students.”

Potter was the first patron to speak up during the public comment at the meeting. She was followed up by six patrons who shared her view. Some of them are worried about increased class sizes if the elementary schools consolidate.

“Your average class size right now is 15 to 18,” John Hulce said. “If you put them in together, it will be 24 to 28. Are we raising kids or are we raising cattle?”

Other patrons were concerned about the future of the rural elementary schools, which are part of their family and community lives.

“If you close these schools, I do believe they will never be reopened,” Justin Hoffman said. “I know that the country and state are having trouble economically, but I do believe that the country will turn around and budgets will improve.”

Some patrons simply asked the school board questions about the topic, despite the school board being unable to answer during the public comment portion of the meeting.

The questions concerned the exact figures to be saved if the buildings are closed, how much it would cost to maintain the buildings, the current utility costs at the two schools and why busing within 2.5 miles of schools was still allowed or free.

A couple of patrons did stand up and speak on behalf of Baldwin Junior High School and Baldwin High School students.

“What concerns me is you guys sit here and always talk about K-5,” Amy Carlson said. “What about grades 6-12? Our high school lost 17 students and 11 of them are from the sophomore class. I know this because it’s my daughter’s class. Four of them transferred to Lawrence and two to Eudora. I don’t know about the others. This tells me we are not offering what they want educationally at that level. You need to think about all of the students, not just K-5.”

The school board didn’t discuss the questions or comments from the public, nor did it talk about elementary consolidation at Monday’s meeting. The next school board meeting will be Nov. 8 and the public hearing on the subject will be Nov. 11 at the BJHS auditorium.

Comments

citymole 4 years, 2 months ago

It amazes me that such a decision is left in to a Board that has no first hand knowledge or experience of these rural schools. Hell one Board member cant even stay awake long enough to hear the facts. Are you kidding? How many of us get to retain a job we sleep at? In my opinion, its all a dog pony show.. they pretty much have their minds made up, are not interested in finding other solutions and just sit and listen to us voice our concerns because its a formality.

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Torch 4 years, 2 months ago

And if that decision is to close the schools then it is the right one.

Do you people not understand that there is no money? What part of that are you not getting? You want to pull out another charge card and fix this?

Why don't the rural families take over the payments on the upkeep of the buildings? How about the salaries? Oh wait...you can't. You need the entire district to subsidize your convenience. The answer is no. It was all fun when money was flowing into the coffers...but it's not there any more.

Thanks to schools like MS and Vinland the state had to raise sales tax. Have you looked at your receipts lately? The sales tax at Legends is 9.525 percent. Did you know that? We are paying through the nose in taxes just to break even. And we have to do that because there is money being thrown away on needless nice-to-have stuff. That would include the rural schools.

Class size of 25 - 28 was the norm 30 years ago and we turned out just fine. Get over it. Stop the sobbing and trying to say how we're hurting the children by doing this. It has nothing to do with them and you know it. The children will be fine. This is all about convenience for a handful of people at the expense of the entire district. This area is filled with a bunch of spoiled brats who have successfully spent the city's future on $chool bonds, LOBs, mil levy increases for their own egos.

It's not 'for the kids' - it's 'for the parents'. Just stop pretending....and stop spending other peoples' money like it's yours.

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Chicramblings 4 years, 2 months ago

Good Morning Torch! Thanks for spewing negativity and stirring the pot bright and early. I got quite a chuckle out of it over my morning coffee.

Obviously the facts from my other responses to you don't sink in or are not considered. However, I would challenge you to post factually, utilizing USD 348 data, why this decision of closing the two elementary schools is the best fiscal decision for the community. You seem to know a lot about the financial underlyings of the district, so help me out. Show me the short-term and long-term actual savings. No emotional belittling or personal bashing and bullying that you like to hide behind. Just numerical facts Torch. Can you do that?

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Chicramblings 4 years, 2 months ago

Oh and Torch, just a few more things. The community was happy in 2007 to spend everyone's money with the bond issue that has now increased the debt service cost to 16% of total expenditures for the District. So, I guess the "city folks" were guilty then of spending everyone's money, not just their own as the majority of the bond went for "city schools"? Why don't they take over all the bond payments and service cost on that? Oh wait...they can't do it?

Hmmm...get over it. This community encompasses the city and rural areas. It doesn't matter where you live and stop making the school issue about where you live. This is about the BEST financial decision for the community now and in the future. If it can be shown by our leaders that this is the right decision, then great close the schools. As a taxpayer I want to understand it. You should want to understand it to, or you must be okay with leading the next bond campaign?

And by the way, you might want to consider supporting the local economy and shopping at home or at least within Douglas County and not at the Legends. Put those high tax dollars to good use in your own city and county. Don't forget the increase in sales tax funds ALL schools in the great State of Kansas, not just VES And MES. Why not go out to western Kansas and work on closing an entire school district? In the long run, it will save the State money and increase the funding that USD 348 receives per student...

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sparky 4 years, 2 months ago

If you go by the facts in the beloved fact finding report, The per student cost for a student at MES is just a few hundred more than a student at the Primary Center. I'm sure if it meant keeping it open, the parents of the MES would gladly pay the difference to keep it open. (Although they shouldn't have to)

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greyghost 4 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps if your high school accounting class didn't have 30 kids in it, you would have learned that 1.9% (MSES and VES portion) of our district's budget is not what has caused the state-wide sales tax increase. If you really want to cut fat from the district, normal people would intuitively look at making cuts from the other 98.1% of the district. I would start at the top and slash the amount of administration and go from there.

We are learning much about you, Torch. You blindly cast your votes out of ignorance and you like to talk smack about elementary schools. Go get a hobby dude. Or at the least, go get a job!

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lslbison 4 years, 2 months ago

For clarification, the proposed closing of Marion Springs and Vinland does not directly affect me or my family. My grandson a 5th grader at MES, was raised by us and the community of Marion Springs educators, staff and families who wrapped their arms around a troubled little boy and allowed him to thrive in an environment that he so desperately needed. You see, he loves his school and even at age ll, knows more than many of us as to what is truly the most important value in education. I attended the meeting last night at MES and applaud Mr. Dorathy for his honesty and willingness to make an effort to heal the wounds that the proposed closings have created. In my opinion, the following issues are not being addressed or justified and must be accounted for before a sound decision is made. 1. The cost-savings figures are not really savings but a reallocation of funds to support the "wish list" of administrative positions, teacher raises and programs that primarily benefit the high school and its athletic programs. 2. Several parents and concerned citizens spoke up at last night's meeting and are committed to volunteering, fundraising and monetary donations to keep MES open. Quite simply, what needs to be done to keep MES/Vinland open. This simple question could not be answered and must be addressed. 3. What are the teachers' recommendations. They are faced with seeing colleagues lose their jobs, their inability to effectively teach children in class sizes that will inevitably be larger, as well as compensation and tenure issues, all collectively restricting their ability to do what they know is best for their kids. 4. As of last night, no Board Member has even taken the time to visit Marion Springs, but yet is empowered to make decisions that affect so many.
This letter will be submitted to the Board of Education and Mr. Dorathy as well and no anonymity is needed. I appeal to the community to not let our kids suffer for the inevitable division that this issue has already caused. The differentiation of city kids vs. country kids has to stop before the division becomes irreparable. Terri Gibbs Lone Star Bison

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

Thank you for making the post...I assume now all the people in favor of closing schools will now have to admit they are in favor of decreasing funding to K-5 education as this is really this is what the BOE and Administration are proposing.

There is NO SAVINGS from closing these schools.

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Spiderpig 4 years, 2 months ago

Just a note on "teacher raises". Teachers are on a pay ladder. There is supposed to be lateral movement on the pay scale for years of experience, and horizontal movement for educational experience. Teachers have been frozen on this scale for 3 or 4 years. It would be nice to get the teachers back on track to where they should be before the freeze. I don't really consider that a raise as much as doing what is right for these educators.

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Spiderpig 4 years, 2 months ago

Sorry, vertical (not lateral) movement for years experience.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

It's only been 2 years according to the information given to parents that attended the meeting last night with Dorathy and the Marion Springs CSO.

Also the amount they are giving the teachers which I feel they deserve is on average about $1600 per teacher and then you have raises for other staff, I think the total told to me by a parent attending was like $248k. While I might feel like they deserve this still wont make money appear in the budget. The problem with giving these increases is if you were to close the schools give the teachers the extra money and when we get our new budget from the state and it's been cut we will either have to make MORE cuts or lay off staff.

So once again there is NO SAVINGS in closing the schools AND this is NOT a long term solution to our budget problems. This proposal simply reallocates funds from K-5 Education to payroll as well as other non-essential programs and staff.

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greyghost 4 years, 2 months ago

Here's where you get into the situation where this may become a double-edged sword. What do the teachers prefer?

If they take the raise, of course they get paid more, but they will be picking up the slack in increased work. Not really a raise. It's more like getting paid a little more for quite a bit more work. Is it worth it? Remember these savings are going to come at the firing of teachers and staff.

Maybe they are okay with not getting raises as long as no teachers are fired. What does the teachers union say?

One other point: The Board says they had no idea the state of the economy was headed where it is now. They've also said, if the state cuts us this much, everything is on the table. Now, apparently, not everything is on the table. Raises are not on the table? Closing schools is on the table. That's the only thing I hear about being on the table. Everything should be on the table.

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Chicramblings 4 years, 2 months ago

I agree Greyghost. Why not add a few items to the table - cutting administrative salaries? Moving the district offices and officially closing the old elementary school? If there is enough room to move VES and MSES to the IC and PC, certainly there should be room to move the district offices to the IC and PC? How about getting rid of the shared administrator between MSES and VES and having the IC and PC administrators cover? Why can't these items and more be frankly discussed?

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hipgrrrrl 4 years, 2 months ago

FYI: The high sales tax at the Legends was implemented as a kick back to the developers involved in order to diminish the costs to create the required infrastruction of said developement. Same in the new development in Lawrence at 6th and Wakarusa.

What in the heck does that have do with our schools? Not a thing.

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BigCat 4 years, 2 months ago

I bet the BOE is hoping that this just goes away. Hope all you want, it is not going to.

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