Archive for Thursday, September 23, 2010

School board revisits elementary school closings

The Baldwin School Board discussed the possibility of closing the two rural elementary schools at Monday night's meeting. This summer, the topic drew large crowds at each meeting with patrons on both sides of the issue. Those same large crowds are expected during the upcoming months.

The Baldwin School Board discussed the possibility of closing the two rural elementary schools at Monday night's meeting. This summer, the topic drew large crowds at each meeting with patrons on both sides of the issue. Those same large crowds are expected during the upcoming months.

September 23, 2010

Talk about closing the rural elementary schools in the Baldwin School District resurfaced at Monday’s Baldwin Board of Education.

When budget cuts were being discussed last spring, the school board tossed around the idea of closing either Marion Springs Elementary School or Vinland Elementary School or both schools. Patrons on both sides of the issue voiced their opinions from April to July.

Once the 2010-2011 budget was finalized, the board stopped discussing closing the schools. However, that changed Monday.

“The board has heard a lot of information about the subject,” Superintendent Paul Dorathy said. “I think they are trying to take their time in making a decision, because it is a big and important decision. I think there are a few months out from making that decision, but they still want to make their deadline of making a decision by December. That decision could come earlier than that, but I don’t think they want to go into the next calendar year.”

In making his recommendation, Dorathy said it would be tough to choose one over the other.

“If the board is going to move forward with this, I don’t think we will save much money by closing one building,” he said. “I think if you are going to do this, you have to close both.”

On Monday, Dorathy approached the subject by presenting a list of items to the school board. The list included uses for money saved from closing the rural elementary schools. He said each school principal submitted a list of staff and equipment needs.

Dorathy reviewed the lists and presented a strategic plan of priority staffing needs if there was an extra $400,000 in the budget. Teacher raises was the top priority on the list with additional custodial staff being second.

“So the trade off here is the educational experience for the K-5 students versus additional needs and staffing for our entire district,” Board member Scott Lauridsen said. “To me, it’s a clear decision. I think we should move forward with this.”

The next step involved figuring out how Marion Springs and Vinland elementary schools could be moved into the Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center and Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center. Dorathy presented the enrollment numbers for this year and maps of BESPC and BESIC if those numbers stayed the same next year.

There would be four kindergarten and first-grade classes and five second- and third-grade classes in BESPC. Then BESIC would continue to house four fourth-grade and fifth-grade classes.

The fifth third-grade class would move into the community room in the new BESPC, while the fifth second-grade class would be placed in the reading resource room across the hall from the second-grade pod. Board Member Ande Parks told Dorathy he didn’t like the idea of moving those additional classes.

“I think these are very serious issues, and I think things are getting worse all the time,” Parks said. “A big concern I have about our new building is we decided to go with a pod design. I want to make sure we take advantage of that system and incorporate that philosophy as much as possible.”

The process of closing a school building involves notification of a public hearing, having the public hearing and finally a resolution passed by the board to close a building.

“There is a process that is spelled out in state law,” Dorathy said. “If our board is going to close a building or buildings, they have to follow that procedure. It’s a very specific procedure.”

The board voted to have special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4 to set a date for the public hearing about closing the rural elementary schools.

Comments

greyghost 4 years, 2 months ago

Ahhhh, yes, the process! I forgot there was a process involved.

“There is a process that is spelled out in state law,” Dorathy said. “If our board is going to close a building or buildings, they have to follow that procedure. It’s a very specific procedure.”

Part of that state law says that the school board should lie to the electorate to get what they want, then say, two years down the road, shun those voters and do the exact opposite of what was promised.

I think I heard at the last school board meeting, many of the board members thanking the rural voters for being so stupid and gullible.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

greyghost, I think you meant they were thanking ALL of the voters for being so gullible and naive.

Because this issue effects everyone and not just rural families with kids in those outlying schools. This is an issue of trust and stewardship, both of which this administration and school board show they are lacking completely.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

I agree Mark, when will this Administration and School Board learn we don't want to compromise our kids education so they can make more money.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 2 months ago

Exactly who is making money, BDad? The school board does not. I believe they are all volunteer workers, some with an agenda maybe, but they aren't making a dime off of the success or failure of this district. Administrators? Sure, they make a salary. When they are deemed to be ineffective or fraudulent in some way, we hire new ones, but we still have to pay them as well.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

If you didn't read the article Blogger, part of the supposed savings, which I doubt we will ever really see is to be used for Raises....this would mean someone would be making MORE money, while the overall educational experience of our children declines.

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straightforward 4 years, 2 months ago

We continue to compromise the education of ALL kids in the district if we aren't able to pay our teachers competitive salaries. If teachers slowly leave for better paying districts then we all suffer. It's regrettable that the rural students will have to "slum" it with us city folk but I really don't think their education will be compromised as much as their parents would like to believe.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

God..I hate people that try to make this a rural or city folk issue this has nothing to do with that. I live in town, I don't care if the rural schools are closed. What I do care about is the quality of the education our kids receive in grades K-5.

Also the idea of teachers leaving to go elsewhere for better paying jobs is a fallacy and if they do LET THEM, we will replace them with just as competent teachers who are clamoring for jobs in this economy.

I have talked to quite a few teachers at all three schools and all I keep hearing is how poor the job market is right now and NO ONE is hiring.

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greyghost 4 years, 2 months ago

“So the trade off here is the educational experience for the K-5 students versus additional needs and staffing for our entire district,” Board member Scott Lauridsen said. “To me, it’s a clear decision. I think we should move forward with this.”

Okay people in and around Baldwin City, Kansas: Do you hear what this guy just said? Re-read this quote, then read it again.

We are not just talking about the rural folk anymore. We are talking about all district children within the ages of four through 11. Give the teachers a raise and hire a couple more custodians at the expense of the youngest population of students. Really? Who voted for this guy?

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 2 months ago

I think possibly he means that if we don't start paying teachers, we may find ourselves losing quality teachers and unable to hire new competent teachers across all schools, thereby lowering the educational experience for ALL students, in a big way. Sacrifices have to be made somewhere, and this one, in terms of educational experience, is not that major when compared to the other possibilities.

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Torch 4 years, 2 months ago

You're not going to lose any teachers Bloggerboo. There aren't teacher jobs to be had unless they want to move to Ulysses. The whole thing about paying teachers more 'or we'll lose them' is mostly a fallacy, especially right now. I've never met a successful businessman who said: "I taught for five years but didn't get paid enough so I started a $10 million company." It doesn't happen.

There is very little risk of losing a teacher to private industry and right now with so many districts downsizing there is almost no risk of losing a teacher to another school.

There are many ways to improve education but the old 'pay them more' isn't necessarily the best or effective way.

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StephanieJarvis 4 years, 2 months ago

Regarding teacher salaries... I just checked the USD 348 website, where salary information can be found. Baldwin City is actually at par with salaries with even larger communities such as Wichita. It appears that a 1st year teacher with a Bachelor's of Science will earn 32,500. That's pretty standard for KS. (Now, sure, Ft Worth ISD starts their first year teachers at 46K, but that's a totally different dynamic, and different state.) And yes, teacher positions are pretty hard to come by these days. There was a teacher shortage projected, and so the campaign to recruit and certify teachers ensued. Then, our economy suffered, and all of a sudden, teachers closing in on retirement found that their retirement funds suffered, and prolonged their teaching contracts. That's a brief, over-generalization of what happened in the teaching industry, but one thing remains, there is not the shortage that was anticipated. So, fear of losing teachers is not really a concern, unless they're not smart enough to find a position elsewhere before leaving their position at Baldwin.

With that in mind, to close these schools, and cut those positions out of the USD would be, in turn, harmful to the local economy. Anyone who has studied economics knows that the economy is at its best when all resources are employed... Revisit that Baldwin City School Board. Okay?

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 2 months ago

Torch and Stephanie, the fact of the matter is we DID lose at least two award winning teachers, on top of a few others, over the last five years. Teachers have choices and will leave if they don't see good reasons to stay or their opportunities are broadened by going elsewhere. So let's not spread this disinformation about how teachers have no where else to go, which means we can expect to hold them hostage at the same pay rate and with crappy benefits forever "for the sake of the children". That simply won't work and is very narrow-minded.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

Bloggerboo as I has been said before then let them leave. Even if it is "for the children" due to the economic mismanagement by this and previous administrations we cannot simply afford to give more money to teachers at this time. While I don't like losing quality teachers, I'm positive that we will be able to replace them with new quality teachers.

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straightforward 4 years, 2 months ago

Maybe you hadn't heard Torch but the Blue Valley district just opened a brand new high school. The Olathe district opened a new high school about five years ago and St. James Academy opened about five years ago. Those are just their high schools. I don't really follow the grade school openings but I assume they are opening new ones as well. Teachers have options other than USD 348.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

Yes, they do straight, but as most of the teachers I have talked to say that there is really no new jobs to be found right now and most districts who have openings are wanting fresh graduates since they can pay them lesser then they would have to pay a teacher with experience.

Also as I said in my other post no one in the private sector is getting raises right now, so why should the public sector be any different.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 1 month ago

If you have spoken to so many teachers who say there aren't job openings right now, that must be because they are looking. What does that tell you? Tells me we don't give them much incentive to stay.

You are such a hypocrite. You want great education, and yet you aren't willing to pay the ones who really deserve it: The Teachers. You disgust me.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm sorry to see common sense disgusts you Bloggerboo, but I think your trying to put words in my mouth.

I have no problems giving teachers raises, it would seem to me that it BOE and the Administration are the ones have issues with that. Since according to several on here Teachers have not received a raise in what 4 years? The depression only started like 3 years ago, not sure why when we had a rosy economic outlook the BOE and the administration decided not to give them one.

Then you have the fact that the first thing that the BOE and the administration decides to do with the extra money if they get their way, is not to give raises but to spend it on non-essential personal instead of using it to retain the the essential ones we have with pay raises as you propose. I'm not sure why you keep fighting me on this it seems we agree the BOE and the Administration are wrong and we should deny their request to close the schools.

Also Bloggerboo, please keep in mind what you are proposing is to make all the teachers in K-5 jobs harder as well as decrease the effectiveness of their job, so they can have a little more money and on top of that lower the quality of the education for all those same kids.

That sounds like a winning solution!!

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Truthseeker 4 years, 2 months ago

Don't forget the full-time athletic director at the top of the high school wish list. That's really going to enhance K-5 learning in our district!

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Spiderpig 4 years, 2 months ago

You people are really grasping for anything. Where do you get your information. The AD is not at the top of their list. You guys are going to go with whatever makes people the maddest. Why don't you pretend that they are really just going to buy more tvs, benches, and trees with all the extra money. I think I heard that someone said that another person's cousin read on a piece of paper that someone found in the trash and gave to another guy that the schools were going to hire more administrators. Yeah, let's go with that.

And, how about giving teachers raises because they haven't had one for 4 years. Who cares if they won't leave. Even more reason to give them a little extra money. If they are willing to put up with all of this every year they deserve to be compensated.

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Truthseeker 4 years, 2 months ago

The first item on the "prioritized" list that Mr Dorathy projected on the screen at Monday night's meeting was " full time athletic director" in exactly those words. It was listed before staff raises, textbooks, curriculum director, school nurse, SRO officer and everything else on the BHS list. Everyone there saw it in plain view. If the list was misinterpreted, then it can take its place alongside many of the "facts" about how much money is going to be saved by closing the rural schools.

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Truthseeker 4 years, 2 months ago

The first item on the "prioritized" list that Mr Dorathy projected on the screen at Monday night's meeting was " full time athletic director" in exactly those words. It was listed before staff raises, textbooks, curriculum director, school nurse, SRO officer and everything else on the BHS list. Everyone there saw it in plain view. If the list was misinterpreted, then it can take its place alongside many of the "facts" about how much money is going to be saved by closing the rural schools.

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Julie Craig 4 years, 2 months ago

It sounds like there is no room for Rainbow Preschool or any growth. . . There better be a plan to handle growth that doesn't involve new buildings!! Are we sure this is the best move for USD 348? The plan already involves moving classes into "make-shift" areas. . . Where does the reading resource stuff go?

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jayhawkfanatic 4 years, 2 months ago

"There would be four kindergarten and first-grade classes and five second- and third-grade classes in BESPC. BESPC would house four fourth-grade and fifth-grade classes."

This was a statement made in the article, is this a misprint or are they actually going to put k-5 in the PC. I thought that 4th and 5th grades were in the IC. I would hope they were still going to use the IC and that would be alot of kids in the PC. If they have to close the outer two schools, I think then the 3rd grade should atleast move back to the IC.

Point here is that Baldwin Signal should fix the article if it is Suppose to say BESIC would house for fourth-grade and fifth-grade classes.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 2 months ago

Yes, there is a typo (one character) or a simple mistake. BESPC should be BESIC. There, I fixed it for them.

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thunder 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm often amazed that every year schools receive money, but it's still never enough. It's usually more than the year before, not always by percentage, thus it's a "cut". You'd think these districts weren't getting anything. School districts have less than stellar money management skills and many mismanage what is provided to them. In the good times they blow what they get rather than plan for the future. Teachers are a huge asset - no revelation here - and need to be fairly compensated, but how many administrators do these districts need? How many paid helpers do they need? I find schools to have a hiring philosophy of the feds - just hire for the sake of hiring. I voted for the primary center - my first yes vote for something like this, knowing full well they would want to pack the rural students in. Why the surprise? How long before we realize there was no foresight in building for growth? These are serious questions (not direct criticisms) that need to be considered.

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greyghost 4 years, 2 months ago

How did you know that the school board, once the new PC was built, would want to close the rural schools? Did the members of the board tell you that? Which ones? Or, are you just psychic? What else do you foresee?

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Julie Craig 4 years, 2 months ago

Why on earth would you vote for something like this if you knew the Board would want to "pack" in the rural kids? You say they lack foresight, but sounds like you do too. You must want large class sizes and temporary classrooms. Hope you're happy. I'm not.

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Torch 4 years, 2 months ago

I think the only viable solution is to pass another $23 million school bond to expand the schools we just built. Plus we could build a district Rec Center, Food Court, Aquatic Center, Amusement Park, and moving sidewalks in the hallways so no one has to walk.

Of course we'd need new offices and state-of-the-art teacher's lounges.

Remember...'it's for the kids!'

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

Let's not forget through all of this Dorathy and the rest of the school board has either lied to us or have been so grossly negligent in their management of the District that they should RESIGN. They can't even predict that after passing a $20+ million dollar bond to build a new school and wasting 2 to 3 million on athletic fields that we would then need to slash and burn the quality of the education received by all the kids grades K-5.

Also let us keep in mind we just spent over $200k in upgrades to those rural schools in the last two years and now we are going to throw most of that money away cause Dorathy and School Board have gotten into their heads that everyone working their need raises. I have not gotten any type of raise from my employer for going on 3 years now and I don't foresee one anytime soon. Why should PUBLIC employees be any different??

If the School Board and Dorathy think they are just going to get away with this then they are in for quite a shock. I have talked to quite a few parents in Baldwin and the parents that are against this easily outnumber those that are for it and the ones for it are grossly misinformed on what will happen and any actual savings. This is not an issue of in town families versus rural families. This issue is the quality of education for all are kids grade K-5.

Just keep in mind if you give into this now, then 3 years from now Dorathy and his school board cronies will be back again asking for more money to expand schools or to re-open the ones we just closed.

If their has ever been time for Charter or Private school voucher programs the time is now. We need to get rid of this massive money pit called Public Schooling and find a better option for our kids and a better investment for our money.

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sportsfan 4 years, 2 months ago

"I have talked to quite a few parents in Baldwin and the parents that are against this easily outnumber those that are for it and the ones for it are grossly misinformed on what will happen and any actual savings."

Will all due respect, Dad, you're talking to a select group of people. Regardless, everyone wants the best for ALL kids with what Baldwin can afford. "Misinformed?" You're looking in a mirror.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

So your telling me raises and a new Activities director is more important then K-5 eduction Sportsfan??

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lisagaylesmith 4 years, 2 months ago

Three years ago all the rual students came home with a flyer in their backpacks saying that a vote YES for the new school in town would only mean that the school board would ensure long-term committment to the rural schools. I have that flyer if anyone would like to see it. It hurts like everything that they have decided to close our schools. They all talked amongst themselves at the board meeting as if the decision has already been made. The meetings to let us voice our protests and opinions are only formalities that Mr. Dorathy said they must follow. What hurt the MOST for a lot of us is that the number one priority listed by the high school was the hiring of an Athletic Director with the funds they would save by closing schools. At a time when we should be cutting sports to keep class sizes smaller for K-5 they are closing schools to promote sports. Who are these people spending our educational dollars and leading our educators?

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greyghost 4 years, 2 months ago

Lisa: Can you scan that flier? If you do/can, post it in a new blog for everyone to see. Or, you can send it to me and I will display it to my newest blog. Either way, every voter should be able to see it here.

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lisagaylesmith 4 years, 1 month ago

Here is the flyer that came home in my Vinland Elementary student's backpack in November of 2008. We were urged to pass these flyers out to our friends and rural neighbors. We did this because we wanted the students in town to have a new school. We did not realize that the new school in town would be the school that our own children would attend. The cost? Closing our schools.

Here is a link to the flyer: http://i1042.photobucket.com/albums/b427/lisagaylesmith/FACTS.jpg

[IMG]http://i1042.photobucket.com/albums/b427/lisagaylesmith/FACTS.jpg[/IMG]

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uapinochet 4 years, 2 months ago

I want to see that flier posted as well.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

I have seen the flier it was handed out about two school board meetings ago and it also outlined how the district was re-investing in rural schools with $200k in network upgrades, I guess now we are going to allow most of those funds to go to waste in closed buildings.

Way to go Dorathy....what an awesome "strategic plan"

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Julie Craig 4 years, 2 months ago

Good point, Lisa. With a principal, assistant principal, an athletic/activities director and multiple secretaries, one would think the High School priorities might be more slanted toward textbooks, computers, pay raises for teachers and staff, etc. By the way, according to the data accumulated on the District web site, we already have an athletic director who makes $40,000 plus benefits. This is a part-time salary?

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tiger 4 years, 2 months ago

Have any of the articles/the school board actually said how much money would be saved? I haven't seen it yet, I'm curious where the $400,000 figure came from.

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jgillispie 4 years, 2 months ago

Tiger, I should have included it in the story. At the meeting, Dorathy said if both schools were closed, he said 6.5 classes would be eliminated K-5, so I assume that would be at least 6.5 teachers, if not a couple aides or paraprofessionals. Plus the district would save money on maintenance and utilities at MSES and VES. He also said he'd like to keep those buildings, in case the district enrollment jumps a lot with the Intermodal. According to the Fact-finding committee, the estimation on keeping the buildings would be to pay 25% of the current maintenance/utility costs now. I believe all of that together would be around $400,000.

Jimmy Gillispie

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

Please keep in mind we will never really see anywhere close to the $400k Dorathy is dreaming about since we will lose a significant # of students in K-5 grade levels to parents pulling their kids to go to a home schooling option. At a loss of roughly $5k a student even if only 10% do it then your are looking at a loss of close to a $100k in funding just from the Feds, that is not even mentioning what we get from the State.

When the School Board and the administration make it so obvious that their main concern is not education our kids but providing for extra circular activities then parents whose first concern is the quality of the education their kids receive then they are not left with much of a choice.

Especially when Kansas has so many online FREE K-12 educational facilities. http://www.onlineschools.org/online-k-12-schools-in-kansas/

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straightforward 4 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, that'll improve your child's education. Teach them at home. If you think you and your spouse can provide a better education then why weren't you doing so already. Folks, this decision wouldn't change the quality of K-5 education that much, if any at all.

I agree the district mismanages its money and is too bloated on the administrative side. I also thought we could have passed a much smaller bond issue and made huge improvements to the old grade school on Chapel St. That being said, keeping these two rural schools open is also mismanaging our money. It's not cost effective.

If this were some state or federal government agency we'd all be screaming at the waste of tax payer money. This just happens to be a situation that hits closer to home for some people. I realize that and I understand why they aren't happy about it but we all need to look at things objectively and spend our tax revenue as prudently as possible. It would be great to have six or seven elementary schools in the district with very small class sizes and the quality of education may be better. Would that be the smart thing to do with our tax money... no!!! So why do we continue to do that for a minority of students in our district.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

LoL....straight, you really are naive if you think NOT closing the schools is a mismanagement of money, it's actually the exact opposite. We have no room in town once we close the schools.

The only reason they want to close them is get some extra cash right now, but long term we will end up spending more in lost students, poorer education K-5 and money spent to handle the issue of overcrowding in the very near future. We can all agree in 2-3 years we will have about 3 options, re-open one of the rural schools, order FEMA trailers for the lawn of our new Schools, or pass another Bond to increase the size of our current schools. We do not have enough room in town for all the kids with our normal year on year growth.

Yes they have GROSSLY mismanaged the district and they have bloated administration budget, the only solution I see at this point is too start eliminating administration spending and eliminating Extra curricular actives as well as refocusing our HS and JH on vocational training so to give the majority of kids real world options as not all of them want to or need to go to college. In fact if Dorathy's "strategic plan" was to spend the money on actual education. I would be more behind the idea, but since it is not and we all can see given his track record of lying we can not trust him to do what is right, even you admit he cannot be trusted with managing our money and therefore I can not support his recommendations.

In regards to the quality of education you will get from homeschooling, it's ignorant of you to assume that your really can't get a good education taught to you by a parent or guardian, since last I checked this country was built by people that were home schooled.

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lisagaylesmith 4 years, 1 month ago

Jimmy. It is my understanding that Mr. Dorathy and two school board members are meeting with some rural teachers today to discuss RIF. This is very news worthy. Why don't you do a story on how the district will move teachers around. It will be based on tenure, seniority, and evaluations if I have the correct information. Some of the highest paid teachers work in the rural schools. Some are near retirement but not yet ready or willing to retire. Moving the rural teachers in town and letting go some of the teachers in town with less senority will significantly cut down on the savings projected I would imagine. Can you get all the facts on this and do a story for patrons? Please? Thanks.

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sportsfan 4 years, 2 months ago

Calm down. You all act like we're at war. Get a grip. No one WANTS to close the schools. Stop taking this as a personal issue. In a perfect world we'd have all sorts of neighborhood schools that are convenient to every parent. (And let's face it, that is part of the argument.) Reality is that the Baldwin school district--like every school district in the country--is having $ issues. Kids in the MS and Vinland schools will be treated with respect and compassion just like every other kid. And why do some of the posters assume athletes are mental midgets?

The assumptions about the school board members are just outrageous.

Geez.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

The only reason we are having money issues is because of mis-management by the Administration and the School Board. That has always been the root cause of most of the problems with Public Education in the last 20 years all over this country.

The idea that we just passed a $25 million dollar bond to increase the capacity of our School District then turn around less then 2 years later and decrease the capacity is asinine. There are lots of other areas to cut in the budget before we look at closing schools and impacting K-5 education, which is the primary goal of the School.

We need a School Voucher program and Charter schools only with competition we will see an improvement in the education our kids get.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 2 months ago

That bond was not passed to increase capacity. The DLR Groups was hired to help us plan out our options and they in turn hired a demographer who said there would be no new significant growth, even with the intermodal coming to Gardner.

It was NEVER about increased capacity, Dad. Sheesh, learn the facts before you go about trying to educate everyone else. Or are you just spreading lies yourself?

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

Please....blogger we have had this argument before, if that is the case then why did we build a BIGGER school?? If not to increase capacity?? Or was it because the entire time the School Board and Dorathy knew they would be closing the Outlying schools, which if that was the plan then your right and I'm wrong...the new schools were not built to increase capacity, they were built on a lie which both the school board and Dorathy are complicate in.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 2 months ago

The school is not that much bigger than the PC they moved out of. But, of course, if you are building something new, you don't leave it EXACTLY the same size, or you take a big risk if there ever is some population growth.

As much as you want this to be about some major conspiracy to fool and trick the MS and VIN parents, that was never anyone's motive. Were there mistakes made? Of course, as with all school districts.

Your precious voucher system won't take away the fact that humans make mistakes in judgment sometimes, but this consistent lambasting of Mr. Dorathy and the BOE is over the top, especially the stories of lies and even profiteering...are you serious with that crap?

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Bloogerboo says..."As much as you want this to be about some major conspiracy to fool and trick the MS and VIN parents, that was never anyone's motive."

Hello.....where Blogger where have you been?? HALF the amount of that are ESTIMATING we will save from closing the schools was just spent by Dorathy and BOE on those same schools!! This money was spent less then 18 months ago, also perhaps you have not been keeping up on this or attending the meetings but I have been there were flyers sent out about 2 years ago by the BOE and Dorathy when they were clamoring to get the Bond passed asserting to everyone that they never had ANY intention of closing MSE or VES schools and this bond would REAFFIRM them staying open, but here we are less then 2 yeas down the road and that in fact is what they are doing.

While I never said a conspiracy of any sort, it seems to me that if I was running a business and I just had a MAJOR expenditure to build a new facility to increase the effectiveness of my core product line(educating our children). I would make sure I would not becoming back to my employers as soon as that building was done to say...OOps I made a mistake and we don't have the money to support our new building and all the existing ones with all the increased spending we are doing on the interest for the money I asked you to borrow to build the new building. So now we have to close off buildings decrease capacity and effectiveness of my CORE product line(educating our children). Then on top of that the reason I would do this is not so we can stay afloat but so I can offer wage increase to my staff and hire on additional Non-essential personal.

Please...Dorathy and the BOE are grossly negligent in this and if you honestly think you should trust them with even more of our money then you are the one that has their head up their.....well you know. If you don't it's where that stuff comes from you mentioned in the last line of your post.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Bloggerboo says..."Your precious voucher system won't take away the fact that humans make mistakes in judgment sometimes, but this consistent lambasting of Mr. Dorathy and the BOE is over the top, especially the stories of lies and even profiteering...are you serious with that crap?"

In regards to your comment about my "precious voucher system", It would actually would help eliminate that issue, because if they did make mistakes like the ones our current BOE and administration are making then I would then have the CHOICE to take my "precious voucher" which is MONEY and go elsewhere. This is the basic fundamental concept that all other business operate under, it's called competition, something that the bloated inefficient monopoly that is now our Public schooling system has not had to deal with until recently and because of that we have no CHOICE, they are not required to be as efficient as possible or do the best they have to, they just have to do minimum required to keep collecting our funds. I'm not saying this about teachers in fact I think most teachers hate our current system more then we the public do, but the teachers like us are trapped in it since the Administrators who are controlling the purse strings would be the most hurt by reform. This among other reasons is why education in general in this country is falling so far behind other developed nations year after year.

Also I never said nor did I insinuate anything about profiteering...I said someone would be making more money, while education declines. It seems wrong to me that anyone whose has a single job should get paid more if the job they are doing is not as good as it once was do to decisions they made or allowed to be made.

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BigCat 4 years, 2 months ago

Sportsfan, Scott Lauridsen and Allison Bauer WANT to close the schools. They have made that plainly clear at every meeting for the last 6 months. So much for taking an objectional look at things. The $425,000 comes from the district "fact" finding report on closing the schools. What nobody seems to remember here is that that is the ESTIMATED MAXIMUM. The low end of that esitmate is $193,000. THAT IS A BIG DIFFERENCE. I have been going over the report for weeks and the numbers don't support the $425K. In just two items I saw an overestimation on $20K. Under the districts crappy plan the PC would only have room for anywhere from 6 to 20 additional students if both schools are closed. NOT GOOD! The IC could house approximate 70 more students. NOT GOOD EITHER. What really gets me worked up is this...assume that the Super and the Board ignore the wishes of the public and close the schools. Now we have anywhere for $193 to $425K sitting around. Why spend it? What happened to thinking that the budget might get cut again? Is Dorothy going to sacrafice his salary to make up for shortfalls? All I see is POOR planning in the past and poor planning coming if these schools are closed. I will be da*#ed if they are EVER going to get me to pass another bond as long as I live here. This board and Super have shredded every bit of credibility and trust that was left. The High School seems to have their priorities out of whack too. A full time AD? Really, is this not a SCHOOL? Not charging for field trips, student handbooks (which are availible on the web for free), etc. Really, is this not a school anymore where kids go to LEARN? Seems that alot of people around town and the board seem to have forgotten that the most important thing here is education. Not sports, not technology, not new schools. EDUCATION!

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BigCat 4 years, 2 months ago

Oh, I forgot one thing, why is the principal at the PC telling all the staff there that the schools will be closed? Did I miss the vote? Want to address that Mr. Dorothy? Sounds like divide and conquer.

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boredstiff 4 years, 2 months ago

If you teach Science, Math, or Special education there are plenty of jobs out there. You will begin to lose teachers and then coaches in Baldwin. Coaching salaries at Baldwin are the lowest in the state. I do agree we do not need an AD in the district this job could be handled by assistant principal and Head coaches. Do not pass another bond issue, Bond Issues only build things, they do not pay teachers or repair buildings. So go ahead do not pass a bond issue. 20 years from now you will have some worn down buildings so you can bitch about that. Consolidate all schools, send all Baldwin kids to Lawrence, there problems solved no schools no budget issues. Consolidate with Lawrence. Last Issue. Schools in Kansas have not received the same amount or more money the past 3 years. They have received less each year and that number will probably be cut again in December. At that point you may lose teachers to RIF (REDUCTION IN FORCE). How many High School kids left Baldwin this year because the opportunities are not here, those opportunities are being sucked away by to little tiny schools. Most of the schools in the district had to cut a teacher, but not Vinland they added a teacher. It is ridiculous that a small percentage of students can take away so much from the majority.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

Bored..I'm really not that concerned with losing coaches..in fact they can all leave.

Also I have talked to and have teachers in my family there is no teachings jobs out there for any specialty. School Districts all over the state and for that matter the country are laying teachers off and trying to do the same thing that our school bored here is trying to do, which is sacrificing the education of the younger kids so certain vocal minority of students and parents can keep their EXTRA circular activities and the administration as well as teachers can get pay raises.

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BigCat 4 years, 2 months ago

Bored...you are already losing kids to Lawrence and other areas which has an impact on the entire district. That teacher at Vinland is a part-time teacher. There are NOT plenty of jobs out there in teaching, period.

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Julie Craig 4 years, 2 months ago

This morning I was told that the new PC playground is already having issues with drainage. Did we not get this all checked out before the kids moved in?

It feels pointless to me to close buildings then pump up class sizes and put up portable classrooms in Baldwin. Not only does it weaken our quality of education, but it costs money too. How small is the savings when we will have to add costs like that? Plus, when our students' test scores go down, who gets blamed? The teachers, not the school board who made this irrational decision.

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LAGNAFinaCJ 4 years, 2 months ago

Vinland did add a part time teacher this year. But they also split 4th grade up last year and this year to be taught in 3rd and 5th grades. So actually we have 1/2 a teacher less than a couple years ago. Also MS and Vinland consolidated the janitor, and principals too.

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boredstiff 4 years, 2 months ago

Here is a thought Vinland form your own school district. Do you really have the tax base to support it? I am sure Baldwin wold let you go.

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rochester 4 years, 2 months ago

What happened to the students and teachers from the outlying schools being treated with respect and welcomed? That doesn't sound terribly welcoming. Is it any wonder the people at the outlying schools dread being lumped in with the others in town?

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 2 months ago

That is what happens when the rest of the district is put upon needlessly by the selfish desires of the outlying schools. They have cost my high school kids (and their own) new textbooks, technology, decent coaches, facilities, you name it, over the years.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 2 months ago

Oh...I'm sorry...Blogger..I forgot...everyone stop what your doing make sure we have enough money so Blogger's kids can play all the sports they want with good coaches.

Give me a break, don't blame the ALL the kids K-5 for the poor management of your kids HS education. That is the fault of the Dorathy and the Board. As much as you want to make this Rural versus City, it isn't Blogger this is about quality versus economy. We need those outlying schools to maintain a better quality of education for our kids during the most crucial years of their education, if this means that some HS students don't get to play some sports with a decent coach, well I'm sorry, but that should NEVER be the main concern of the District.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 2 months ago

Sports is maybe more minor to some, but I notice you didn't even come close to touching on the fact that our textbooks are sometimes 20 years old at the high school and junior high, or that the technology is poor (which they will be needing to be semi-proficient with in almost any job these days), or the poor facilities in general at the junior high. Nothing from you on those? It's ok to make sure some 120 students have an excellent K-5 experience rather than a very good one, if not just as excellent, at the expense of those things above for the other 700 some JH and HS students? Is that what you are saying?

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 2 months ago

Not too mention, many of those problems I mentioned, Mr. Dorathy and most of the school board inherited and it wasn't their lack of planning, foresight, or financial acumen that is hurting us at the moment. It goes back farther than that.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Ok, Bloggerboo, I'm trying not to be mean here, but you are all over the map on what you think we should do?

So which is more important here Education or Extra Curricular activities, Bloggerboo?? Since you can't reply in my direct post, I will give you my answer, Education as it should be for Dorathy who calls himself an Educator, but is really a Bureaucrat. Being that is the case, I will elaborate on how misguided the BOE and Doarathy have been grossly negligent in doing what they are supposed to do in the last 3-4 years since has you put it they inherited this problem.

The first priority then would be upgrading the Tech at all schools as well as making sure we have access to the latest text books, it's amazing to me that we have this problem since there is a plethora of FREE up to date material out there our School should have access to on the internet. Second, priority should be to make sure all my current Facilities where up to date and in good operating capacity. I would certainly do all of this WELL before I spent 2-3 million on sports facilities that were not essential since it seems our sports teams are placing in the top of their sports all over the state with out ever having used them.

So now that we have had these issues with our HS and JHS that were in existence even before they took over what like 4 years ago, you don't think in all that time and all that planning that Dorathy and the BOE have had, that they should have had them corrected by now?? Come on Bloggerboo your a smart person, you have to realize they should have.

Bloggerboo...you have read allot of my posts and you know ME this not a HS/JHS versus the Rural kids, YOU are trying to make this out to be that. In fact by closing the rural schools you will impact the educational experience of 600+ kids in K-5 with over crowded facilities which as you point out in many of your posts, where not built to increase capacity so therefore could have NEVER been built to handle the additional kids from MSE and VSE.

To ME this is about the quality of education for ALL our kids, but the big issue here is the most formidable years are K-5 and I'm sorry I'm not willing to impact that one iota, so that we can give more money to a BOE and an Administrator who has clearly shown even to you, with their actions that they cannot be trusted. If they were doing this to increase or create a Pre-school program for all kids or to upgrade the fundamental education of our HS/JHS children, Then I would agree with the closings, but Dorathy and the BOE shown with their proposal that is not the case.

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kal110386 4 years, 2 months ago

Thank you Bloggerboo for having common sense. You guys can kick and scream and blame the school board all you want, but the truth is, the funding from the state and federal government is generally beyond their control. They have made endless cuts to trim the budget down, and are looking at closing the schools as a last option. They also debated about cutting Jr. High sports all together. Why would you cut sports for EVERYONE instead of relocating 200 kids? If you say sports aren't a big deal, you probably didn't participate in them while in school. I learned just as much from the sports I did and the coaches I had than I did in the classroom. Maybe what I learned wasn't quantifiable and won't win me trivial pursuit. But I also didn't learn much about working hard, determination, self-discipline, teamwork, etc. in the classroom.

I have a better idea, if we'd like to see an improvement of our public education, why don't we pay attention to who gets voted into office? Tony Brown has been in education, he has plenty of experience there. Also, improving education is one of his primary concerns. Yet I see a lot of TerriLois Gregory signs around town. Why? Besides the fact that there is virtually no information on this woman (even her own website is scary vague), she promises to cut taxes while also "caring about education". I'm sorry, but what do we expect to happen with all the tax cuts? Instead of voting for whoever promises to reduce taxes, maybe you should stop and think about the effect that will have on the already small school budgets. But I can see how this totally is a conspiracy by Dorathy to close the schools and pad his own pockets!

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Kal, you posts about this issue is all over the place. Dorathy and the BOE have shown with their actions that the education of our children is not their main concern. If you don't realize this then I'm not sure what I can do to help you has anyone looking at their actions over the last 3-4 years should plainly be able to see education of our kids is not their main focus.

In regards to Terri Lois Gregory, I too share your concerns but that is a post for another blog.

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averagejoe 4 years, 2 months ago

Well, much of this was predictable, it seems, if we all consider how the school board (and certain members more than others) tend to view the voting and taxpaying public.

After Mr. Laurisen was lambasted and criticized for for his Merle Venable sports complex naming proposal and he stated publicly at a board meeting that he didn't know his proposal would cause so much angst and public outrage, he rams it through last month after many thought that the proposal was abandon. Now, Mr. Lauridsen, in his selfish and self-centered way, can re-live his own football fantasies while more deserving coaches, teachers and athletics from the past 100 years of Baldwin High School history are ignored. Let alone all the thousands of alumni who deserved the opportunity to nominated and vote for their own choices.

My own opinion was that the idea was terrible from the start. It never should have been considered. Now, as I predict, the community will argue, fight and maneuver over future facility namings. The whole idea is a venture into the insane.

This is the same Mr. Lauridsen who had to apologize several years ago at a school board meeting for a decision that wasted several hundred thousand dollars of taxpayer money.

Lest the school board forget, the rural taxpayers contribute slightly more than 55% of the total school district tax payments. I would argue that in a democracy this fact makes our rural friends great benefactors to our own children's education in the city facilities. They deserve to have their opinions considered if not their wishes granted.

It seems many of these issues that cause public anger and angst initiate from Superintendent Paul Dorathy. Sometimes I wonder what his agenda is overall.

Baldwin City is Baldwin City. It is not Johnson County.

We have ended up with brand new schools and the high taxes associated with these facilities and now suddenly it has become apparent that our retired and elderly citizens are being forced from their homes because of high property taxes. Did anyone think that far ahead?

The public gets who they deserve through their votes or by way of their involvement in school board meetings. And uninformed, uneducated voting public usually gets public officials who mirror themselves.

A smart, informed, involved voting public gets the representation they demand and require.

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former_Marine 4 years, 2 months ago

"Did anyone think that far ahead?"

HA HA HA ... Good one!

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hipgrrrrl 4 years, 1 month ago

This whole focus on "technology training" is ridiculous. I didn't know a #%@ about computers when I got an PT admin job in college and promptly taught myself how to manage a database, merge (anyone remember those macros? :)) and manipulate various aspects of the program in order to make my job less cumbersome. When I was 15, I taught myself how to type out of an old encyclopedia due to boredom and a lack of TV in my home. I went on to work to work for an CIO doing help desk and software troubleshooting with no formal training. Today, programs do pretty much everything for one - even for those who do "programming". Teaching a kid to manoveur around the internet isn't rocket science. Nor should it be considered as such.

Our public education "industry" is about bloat these days. The larger and more complex a system they create, the more positions are "necessary". The larger the industry the gets, the more voice they have to convince the public how "necessary" the bloat is. The more services they offer, the more parents rely on them to provide things for their kids that said parents could take upon themselves. The system is solidly in place and we (parents) are convinced that our children will fail in life without it - and we like it! Less responsibility for us!

Maybe cost cutting at the administrative level (most industry today is finding that there are many positions that are unnecessary - evidenced by large numbers of position elimination and resulting unemployment) would resolve some of the problems brought about by funding cuts. Bloat, on one's person or otherwise, is best handled by cuttin' back. Our children would benefit if we were more concerned about their actual education and less with setting up a "system" to warehouse them throughout the day.

Why should any of us have to pay for Blog's kid to have extracurricular activities outside of school? School ought to be school and rather than demanding that the public school take on the teaching of other areas of life, maybe we, as parents, ought to accept that responsibility ourselves. Of course, if we choose that route, when our kids fail to make the Olympics, get drafted to the NFL, can't quite make State in track and field, sing at the Met or get 1st chair in the NYC orchestra, we have no one to blame - except those horrendously selfish parents of MS and Vinland school children, of course :).

By the way, why is Blog getting so wound up when BaldwinDad participates in "...consistent lambasting of Mr. Dorathy and the BOE..." when s/he has eagerly done the same to everyone who disagrees with and/or questions any (or all, for that matter :)) of Blog's posted statements of opinion?

"It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and to forget his own." -Marcus Tullius Cicero

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

I agree with you Hipgrrrrl, there is allot of waste in our schools and I also agree that allot of parents who seem to think it's ok to make the community pay for their kids to experience extra curricular activities that should have never become part of core activities of the Public School system.

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sparky 4 years, 1 month ago

Isn't it funny that a large part of the group that was campaigning for the school bond issue with the "for the kids" slogan are now the ones saying, "close the schools." You could paraphrase the quote from the article as 'piss on the K-5 kids, they can catch up when they get to middle school.' That way we can have a cool athletic department at the high school.

So lets say we close the schools (eliminating several of our self proclaimed great teachers). A couple years down the road when we decide they won't all fit in the new schools, we open back up one or both of the rural schools, then these great teachers we had are now down the road and we have to try to find new teachers that from the way everyone is talking would be tough to get teachers as good as the ones we have now. Not to mention, by the time that happens (a couple years from now) we will have spent all the money that was saved from closing the schools, so now we have to cut elsewhere, or come up with more funds to open them back up. Makes sense. And why is it we are shoving all these students into the new buildings and putting them in rooms that weren't built and designed as classrooms? So we are already over capacity? Great plan.

And if the rural schools are closed, is it already decided that those teachers are automatically eliminated? If there are better teacher options at the rural schools than a couple of them at the city schools, is there an option to eliminate the city teacher and bring in more of the rural teachers?

Just my two cents along with additional questions.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Sparky, you hit the nail on the head with how grossly ignorant the plan that the BOE and Dorathy have proposed is in regards to closing the Rural Schools.

As to your question about which teachers will be fired, well that is never a concern to those who advocate closing schools. They just assuage their guilt over with the idea that the remaining K-5 teachers who have to suffer with larger classes sizes and harder work will get a small raises. I'm sure those teachers remaining will appreciate it, I'm sure it will make them feel much better about their work and the friends who were fired.

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hipgrrrrl 4 years, 1 month ago

Of course, stuffing these rural kids (2nd and 3rd, at least) into the non-classroom classrooms at the new PC will bring in more extra dollars for new facilities cramming - or whatever they call it... how much is that going to add to the "savings" the BOE is claiming to be had?

I'm just in awe of these fabulous and awesome ideas our educated "leaders" keep coming up with. Not quite speechless, though :).

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Julie Craig 4 years, 1 month ago

I didn't see Mr. Dorathy's prioritized list of ways to spend the savings, but hiring new "directors" of any kind should not be on that list.

One idea to get some savings would be to cut the technology staff in half and have a contract with a computer/network specialist to come in when there are problems at an hourly rate. This is what most private businesses do at a fraction of the cost of full-time employees. Savings = $100,000.

Also, do both elementary schools in Baldwin need a seperate principal? We could save $75,000 very quickly there. The buildings are right next to each other.

It seems like some are willing to sacrifice the core of the Vinland and Marion Springs communities before making uncomfortable cuts in district administrative costs.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

What is funny Great is that it's my understanding that Vinland and Marion not only share a principal, but a music teacher as well.

But I don't want to turn this into a City versus Rural schools issue. It's not it's about poor management of resources plain and simple, the school board petition us to spend more money and after all is said and done we will end up worse off then when we started with over crowded class rooms, less effective educators, and some facilities that are not in the best shape.

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lisagaylesmith 4 years, 1 month ago

"sacrificing the core" of Vinland and Marion Springs communities was brought up at a board meeting. Scott Laurisden said that he was not elected to be a keeper of communities. He doesen't seem to mind at all that closing the rural schools will kill our small communities. The older people in Vinland tell me that when the districts were consolidated promises were made then. VES would not be sacrificed. It is ironic that the current school board will break those promises as well as the ones they recently made to our rural voters when we helped to pass the bond issue. See the flyer promising us that our schools would not be closed if we built a new school in town. http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fi1042.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fb427%2Flisagaylesmith%2FFACTS.jpg&h=8f3f6

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

I think it has become quite clear that Scott Laurisden is not concerned with what is best for the district or our kids education. It also seems like he cares little for what the public who elected him says.

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Torch 4 years, 1 month ago

Straightforward said:

"Maybe you hadn't heard Torch but the Blue Valley district just opened a brand new high school. The Olathe district opened a new high school about five years ago and St. James Academy opened about five years ago. Those are just their high schools. I don't really follow the grade school openings but I assume they are opening new ones as well. Teachers have options other than USD 348."

I reply here since my response would be buried above.

Maybe you hadn't heard but the KC school district closed several schools and laid off over 100 teachers. If a teacher in Baldwin finds another job let them go. There is a gluttage of teachers out there and we would have over 100 applicants for every opening guaranteed. That would allow us to get the best possible replacement, probably at a lower cost.

And by the way, let's make it clear that not all teachers are good. In fact, just like in any organization about 20 percent do 80 percent of the work. I'm tired of hearing about raising teacher salaries when we should be saying 'raise GOOD teacher's salaries'. Maybe some of the people who think they're worth more leave and it's a good thing.

I hear about teacher's with Master's degrees, etc getting paid more. Funny thing about that is you can be educated and be a horrible instructor. The basic premise that we use to evaluate teachers is broken...but that's another discussion.

The fact of the matter is that even when the economy was booming we had lots of options for teachers, and some of them may have been better than what we have. Just because someone has taught for 10 years doesn't mean they're good...it just means they've lasted 10 years. Teaching is welfare for the educated, and here in the eastern third of the state there is no lack of un-employed teachers looking for work. Labor pool will likely never be an issue for us.

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sparky 4 years, 1 month ago

I LOVE the scanned flyer Lisa!!!

Goes to show us voters how gullable we can all be! I was one going around campaigning against the school bond, I guess I should have gone out and told people (in writing) that for every vote against the school bond, they will receive a new car. And then once I had their vote, told them that I was just kidding, now I can't afford it.

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1776attorney 4 years, 1 month ago

Here is a comment that many Baldwin City voters may not remember or be aware of. Because of budget problems or poor management of existing programs, the School Board closed or severely reduced the library facilities at Baldwin High School. In fact, I believe there is now no librarian on staff.

To the utter shame and disgrace of the School District and the Board of Education, they dumped 100's of BHS students on the Baldwin City Library and those tax resources while overwhelming the staff and resources of the city library. Hundreds of students had to be added to the library member list or check out database on a "rush" schedule so students could work on their classwork.

So, any discussion by the Board of Education about hiring an athletic director or additional staff with our tax dollars should be met with a recall of the Board members or the firing of the superintendent. Both the Board and Superintendent already have well-deserved reputations for dishonesty and deception.

The School District cannot afford a school library and librarian, so they dump their obligations on other taxpayer supported institutions. Where's the embarrassment?

Consider the fact as mentioned in another comment that our rural residents contribute slightly more than 55% of the school district tax revenue. That makes our children living within the city boundaries the beneficiaries of the contributions of the rural taxpayers. Where is the gratitude ? If the rural residents seceded from the district, the local schools would collapse financially. MS and Vinland would probably prosper on their own tax revenue.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 1 month ago

Vinland and MS would be fine on their own? Without the in-town's 45% taxes? Right. I would love to see them house K-12 on that budget, with no buildings for that many kids, or extra teachers for JH and HS. You're a smart one, Mr. Attorney.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, Bloggerboo I would really like to see the rest of USD#348 support their kids if OVER half their budget was gone. If MSE & Vinland were to leave. God, forbid that might mean you would have to cut out some of your coveted Athletic programs or Coaches.

But when you actually crunch the numbers they could do it since when you only have to support about 300 kids total versus the current enrollment of what 1300, I'm sure with a 1000 less kids to pay for and 3 less bonds. The rural schools could take over half the local state and city taxes they pay into USD#348 and create their own district K-12 quite easily.

So don't kid yourself if you think the BOE and the administration can treat the Rural schools and all the parents both in town and rural that actually care about their kids education like this. I think the BOE will find themselves voted out of office and Dorathy out of Job.

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Spiderpig 4 years, 1 month ago

That 55% is a neat number to hang your hat on. The only problem with it is that not all "rural money" is from the MS / Vin area and not all of those kids go to the outer schools. It does show how well you can play with the numbers though.

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Chicramblings 4 years, 1 month ago

Let me make sure I have some of the facts straight on this issue: 1. The Superintendent and others on the School Board are in favor of closing two elementary schools to achieve an estimated savings in the range of $193,000 to $400,000. 2. Closing 2 elementary schools will increase average class sizes at the K-5 level to a maximum of 26 per class.
3. The closing of 2 elementary schools will result in the lost of 6.5 FTEs within our community. 4. The administration has submitted a "wishlist" on ways to spend the savings from the closing of the two elementary schools of which a full time activities/athletic director and raises were on the top of the list.

This is where I need some help. Exactly why are we wanting to close two elementary schools? I ask this based on the following:

  1. Through June 30, 2010, state tax revenue collections were above expectations (reference LJW article that I believe stated $20m above expectations). Through September, it has been communicated to the school districts that the State is not anticipating any budget cuts to school funding for this year. In my brain, this means we are not looking at a short-term budget need.
  2. The district already owns one vacant, well mostly vacant, building that was closed due to the construction of new facilities. Is it a wise long-term decision to add two more vacant properties to the balance sheet of the district as those vacant properties still utilize monetary resources for utilities and upkeep indefinitely? I don't think you are going to find "buyers" for the rural elementary schools, not now and not in any economy. And holding on to them for the sake of future growth is a joke. Once they are closed, they are closed. So how do you feel about using tax dollars to support 3 vacant buildings? Especially when the PC and IC will be out of room in 2 years and the community will be asked to pass another bond? By the way, look at the budget summary document on the District’s website, in 2010-11, the district will spend $2.6m on debt payments or 16% of the budget.
  3. The district believes it is a wise use of money to modify BRAND NEW schools to be utilized in ways for which they were not built or configured. Exactly how much is that going to cost to change reading resource rooms and common areas into classrooms? How is it going to be funded?
  4. Closing two elementary schools will abandon one of the few benefits that USD 348 has over neighboring school districts - small class size. At an average class size of 26, USD 348 will be no different than Johnson County or Lawrence except the fact that your child gets a larger class size and the parent gets to pay more taxes for the privilege.
  5. USD 348 believes it is wise to potentially comprise the quality of education for K-5 students and our ability to meet measurement criteria (AYP).
    Continued on next post…
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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Awesome questions,,,,to bad that Dorathy and the Board will not answer them.

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Chicramblings 4 years, 1 month ago

Finally, after the above considerations, the two elementary schools are closed. Why is it the most effective utilization of resources to immediately spend any savings? Note that I don't think there will be any savings after the above considerations partly because the savings from the closures will not be the MAXIMUM of $400,000 then you have to pay for renovations to new schools, and lastly, because you are going to have kids transfer out of USD 348 which means lost revenue of $4,400 per student. And, if the ultimate wisdom of the Superintendent and School Board is to spend the savings, why not address educational issues, like why the District can't retain students at the Junior High and High School level?

You know, just wondering...

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lisagaylesmith 4 years, 1 month ago

Moving the rural K-5 into town will mean the new PC has to make classrooms out of rooms that were not intented for classrooms. Ask the teachers at the PC how they feel about that. The way Mr Dorathy mapped it out for us at the last board meeting showed that and only two empty classrooms at the IC. So that means 3rd grade will never get out of the PC and back over to the IC and the preschoolers will never be taught in the PC....unless we move in the modular units. The rural patrons will not be voting yes on any bond issues. This will sure get interesting in a few short years. The current school board members will always be remembered for closing the rural schools and harming the small communities of Vinland and Marion Springs. Mr Dorathy will be a name that will live on for a long time too.

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hipgrrrrl 4 years, 1 month ago

So, I've been doing some digging around in the BCS archives today. There is a very interesting LTE from Russell Cloon dated May 14, 2003, which strangely echoes just about what is going on today. A bunch of squawking about how MS should be closed (see Betty Bullock reference below), promises given to the parents of rural students to pass a bond for the new school(the IC), skewed numbers given by school closing advocates and etc., etc.

Back in 2000, a woman named Betty Bullock (BB? Hmmm...), mounted quite a vigorous campaign to "balance" the members of the school board from 2 from MS, 2 from V, 2 from BC and one "at-large", very likely limiting the voice of the county folks when it comes to BOE decision making. Too bad she was effective. Interestingly enough, she was also a vocal proponent of closing MS in 2003 and I think also in 2005...but called out in an LTE dated April 2, 2003 for providing false class size numbers for MS.

One point made in one article from 2005 when it was also evaluted whether MS or V should close is pretty valid and it's been a while since it's been mentioned. Not only will the classrooms in the IC and PC become significantly more crowded, but these rural kids will be spending quite a bit of time on the bus, most likely having to get up significantly earlier as well. Not only will transportation costs increase, but this will be detrimental to the kids as a whole. If anyone has any curiousity about what even minimal sleep deprivation does to kids, I'd suggest a look at the book NurtureShock. Pretty fascinating.

Browsing through the archives has been an interesting read and I would suggest others indulge as well.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Good Points...too bad once again the BOE and Dorathy will not be made to answer them.

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Chicramblings 4 years, 1 month ago

Amen BaldwinDad. And people wonder why this becomes such an issue. Hmm, an open conversation and review of the BoE and Dorathy's perspective would alleviate so many questions and assumptions on the part of the community. When communication breaksdown, anger and frustration set in...

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