Archive for Thursday, September 30, 2010

Parents respond to possible closing of rural schools

Marion Springs Elementary School students enjoy time on the playground Tuesday afternoon.

Marion Springs Elementary School students enjoy time on the playground Tuesday afternoon.

September 30, 2010

Although the issue was dormant for nearly three months, it’s clear the passion of advocates of Baldwin USD 348’s two rural elementary schools haven’t cooled.

Parents and students from the outlying elementary schools in the school district continue to make their case for Marion Springs and Vinland elementary schools. MSES and VES combine to house 138 out of the 1,437 students in the Baldwin School District.

“I have seven kids that all go to or went to this school district,” said Lisa Smith, VES parent. “I still want to keep Vinland Elementary open. Ten years from now when I don’t have kids in Vinland, I am still going to want that school open.”

Other parents have chosen MSES for their children’s early education. That’s why they hope it remains open.

“As a parent, education is an important subject,” said Kim Beilfuss, MSES parent and Community Service Organization president. “Our children spend eight hours a day, five days a week with the same group of kids and teachers. This school is their second family.

“From a CSO president perspective, MSES represents the foundation of our community. Our school has a 25 percent out-of-district/ indistrict transfers enrollment. Those families choose to drive their children to this school for its high standard of education. It’s hard to put into words what a school truly means, but if someone said Baldwin has to merge with Wellsville, I’m sure everybody would stand together to keep that from happening. The rural schools feel no different. We help make this district unique by offering a smaller atmosphere for excellent learning.”

When budget cuts were being discussed last spring, the school board considered the possibility of closing the rural elementary schools.

In the proceeding months, dozens of parents and patrons of the rural communities let their feelings be known to the school board. They sent letters, e-mails and petitions to the board trying to keep their schools open.

Once the school board received notification that additional cuts weren’t coming this summer, the topic was dropped. However, Superintendent Paul Dorathy said the school board should to make a decision on the issue this year, preferably by December, because more state funding cuts could be on the way.

The topic of closing the rural elementary schools came up at the Sept. 20 school board meeting. Dorathy informed the board that there is a required process for closing a school, which includes a public hearing.

“The board members have made up their minds,” Smith said. “They aren’t going to listen to us at the referendum they are setting up. They are doing it because it’s a formality.”

A large crowd is expected at the Oct. 11 school board meeting. The board will meet Monday to set a date for the public hearing on closing the schools, but there will be no public comment at the meeting. There will be public comment allowed at the regular meeting on Oct. 11. The rural patrons are still ready to voice their opinions and concerns about consolidation.

“We’re carefully watching how the board chooses to spend our tax dollars,” Beilfuss said. “We have gathered signatures on petitions, written many e-mails to our BOE, contacted our Legislature, researched numbers and attended every meeting.”

In the end, class sizes are one of the major issues with the parents. Most elementary classes in the district have from 15-20 students. If the schools were consolidated, those classes would increase to 20-25 students.

“Keeping the rural schools open guarantees smaller classes sizes K-5,” Smith said. “Closing those school is going to kill two rural communities. That’s what our communities are built around are these two schools. If they close our school down, we won’t have the Vinland community. We will be part of the Baldwin community.

“We as parents try not to upset our children, but they know that our schools are going to close,” she said. “It’s sad because they are crying. If our schools close, our community parents and children will be shedding tears.”

Comments

Torch 4 years, 1 month ago

“We as parents try not to upset our children, but they know that our schools are going to close,” she said. “It’s sad because they are crying. If our schools close, our community parents and children will be shedding tears.”

Utter crap. The children don't care where they go to school. You could put them in a barn and it wouldn't matter to them.

It's time to quit using 'the kids' as a tool to get what the parents want. That's how business has been conducted around here for a while and it's getting old. Nothing that has been done in the last 15 years was 'for the kids.' It's for the parents and teachers. Let's just be honest about that and quit using the children as manipulation tools.

It's about ego, convenience, money, and working conditions. Period. 'The kids' are resilient and will be fine despite the decisions their parents make. It works that way in divorces, injuries, illnesses, deaths, and changing schools. So stop the drama and stick to building your case on logic and reasoning if that's at all possible.

The bottom line is the bottom line. The money doesn't exist. If you want those schools open then find a way to raise the money. If that means another LOB then propose that. If it means bake sales so be it. But what you're asking right now is that the vast, vast majority of the school district finance your convenience. That's what it's mostly about - convenience to the parents. I don't want to pay for it any more. The money is needed where the bulk of the district is. You are leeching resources away from us in order to support you. I don't care if the student-teacher ratio goes up. When I grew up my class size was 30 and we did just fine.

MSES should be bulldozed. It's an old facility that costs too much to maintain. It's a money pit. Your children are eating cold lunches that have to be brought out from Baldwin every single day. How is that helping 'the kids'?

Close them and move on.

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BigCat 4 years, 1 month ago

Torch, you said and I quote, "MSES should be bulldozed. It's an old facility that costs too much to maintain. It's a money pit."

By that rationale then the HS should be bulldozed as well as the District Office/Old PC. There was a parent group that put on a slideshow at one of the meetings about how bad off the maintenance was at the HS. It's and old facility and costs alot of money (apparently too much) to maintain. It is also well known that the old PC has all kinds of maintenance problems...ie leaky roof.

How about we bulldoze the new PC? Its a few weeks old and has drainage problems already and leaks in the roof. Sounds like it's a money pit also. Bulldoze it, right?

You're comments are laughable.

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LAGNAFinaCJ 4 years, 1 month ago

WOW Torch, speaking of utter CRAP.. Your statement about the kids don't care... Maybe yours don't. Look how they're brought up..

Mine ages 8 and 11 DO CARE.... They are already talking of having bake sales to make extra $$. They just don't realize how much $$ they will need.

Maybe you should step away from your computer do a little research and SHUT IT.

Dan Wilcox.

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sparky 4 years, 1 month ago

Torch,

"Utter crap. The children don't care where they go to school. You could put them in a barn and it wouldn't matter to them." - I don't know about the current kids that go to MSE, but I can tell you that when I was at MSE, the thought of going to school in Baldwin scared the hell out of me. I was used to my school and friends and I remember talking to older friends that were in junior high about what it was like to bus into Baldwin to join the other students when we got to 7th grade. So this statement you made must not be made from personal experience, as it is 100% false.

I'm trying to leave out my personal attachment to MSE as to whether or not I support closing the schools. I just can't see anything good that comes from closing them. I think our society as a whole has lost focus on the things that are truly important and our judgement has become clouded. Why we need positions like Athletic Directors and all the additional administrative positions that we have and find no use for a librarian baffles me. I totally agree that we overspend exponentially, but that's not due to MSE and VES, it's due to other factors of money mismanagement. I just can't believe that we are trying to cram all these students in new buildings that they don't even fit into.

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Truthseeker 4 years, 1 month ago

Torch...get your facts straight! Yes, Marion Springs is an "old facility" but that means it was paid for long ago. And since it has always been at the bottom of the district food chain, it has incurred significantly less bond debt than any other building in the district. In these economic times, that strikes me as an asset, not a liability.
As for MSE students having cold lunches brought out from town, that is so untrue it's laughable. Their cook does wonders with what she has to work with, and if you had ever eaten even one meal there, you would understand why lunches are among the things that MSE students appreciate the most.
Ask any student (or former student) from any grade in the rural schools if they care where they go to school and they'll not only tell you they care, but they'll tell you exactly why!

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Chicramblings 4 years, 1 month ago

Wow Torch. I will read through your emotional bull crap and ask that you take your own advice and stick to the FACTS. Everyone needs to be a purveyor of facts including Superintendent Dorathy and the School Board as well as everyone else whether they are writing in a blog or speaking about it. I also believe that the kids will adjust to whatever the decision comes to and some won't. Those that don't want to adjust or won't adjust, will leave the District. Leaving the District is the fall out from any and every decision that the School Board makes. I am all for doing what is right for the quality of education of the district as a whole. To me this is not an issue of the 'rural folks' versus the 'city folks" or even rural schools versus city schools. This issue is all about improving the quality of education for the students of USD 348 through the appropriate and wise management of resources. As I pointed out yesterday in a post, I have yet to see or receive answers that can help me determine that the closing of two elementary schools is a wise management of resources in the long-term. Management of resources from a long-term, heck even a short-term, has been the problem in this District for the 20 years I have lived here. Frankly, I want it changed. So show me, instead of throwing emotional crap, that this is the right decision. Give me facts and numbers that I can look at and dissect, and leave who is paying for who who out of it. We are a community, and as a community, we support one another.

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lisagaylesmith 4 years, 1 month ago

Wow Torch. That is pretty harsh. Maybe having 30 kids in your class really hurt you in a lot of ways. You aren't showing any compassion. Even many of the people in town who would like our schools closed say so without all the hateful comments. Two of the school board members who will vote to close have told me they are doing so very reluctantly. Jimmy didn't get my whole quote in the article. I believe I said something like: The parents and kids in town won't be crying if our schools stay open and our kids don't move to town. However, our rural parents and kids will be shedding tears for a long time to come if our schools are closed. And, for the record, my kids do care where they go to school. Very much. They always dread the move to Junior High and miss the VES environment for a long time after they leave it. Your kids may not care where they go to school but many do. And, maybe yours adjust well to things like divorce and moves. Mine won't ever have to. I try to do what is best for them.

Jimmy could not post everything I said but the statement I made about the children being upset was in answer to his question to me about how the children felt. I also told him that our Students have asked about having bake sales. Like Dan said, they have no idea that a bake sale every year could not raise enough to cause the board to change their mind.

Truth, The cold lunch jab Torch made is probably my fault from an earlier letter to the editor. I was making the point that we had given our cooks up years ago in an effort to save the district money and we had to have lunches delivered from town. I don't believe they are nearly as good as they used to be but some people believe they are. I respect their opinions. I am not always right.

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lisagaylesmith 4 years, 1 month ago

I keep having people ask me about this flyer. This is the flyer that the rural children brought home in their backpacks. We were told a vote for the new school would guarantee that VES and MSE would stay open. Mr Dorathy told our teachers that no schools would be closed as long as he was superintendant.

Here is a link to the flyer: http://i1042.photobucket.com/albums/b...

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

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 1 month ago

Ms. Smith,

Considering that wonderful flyer you keep posting, wouldn't it have been prudent for the school board to build a new building that would house all of the VIN and MS students, on top of the BC students, if their entire plan was to dupe those rural families and ram this closing through? If they wanted to close the damn buildings so bad, why didn't they just do it then, back in 2008?

Point is, they are reacting to their financial situation on the fly. And, I highly doubt Mr. Dorathy ever said no buildings would be closed while he is here. At this point, I consider you unreliable and just out there for your own selfish desires and you have no real interest in doing what is best for school children of this e n t i r e district.

Thanks for proving my point by distributing the flyer. This is what the BoE and Dorathy feel is a last resort. They wanted to keep the buildings open if at all possible, but they don't feel that they can be supported anymore. Whether they are right or wrong remains to be seen, but this is not the result of some half-witted conspiracy to pull the wool over everyone's eyes.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

I could bother to go into how or why I reach this conclusion but Bloggerboo your an idiot.

Bottom line is that flyer proves that less then 2 years later we wasted $200 thousand dollars over half what they are proposing to save with this school closing. That is point of the flyer to show that the BOE and Dorathy have NO CLUE what they are doing with our children's education.

Also the only one that keeps talking of some vast conspiracy is you. I just feel that the BOE and Dorathy are incompetent.

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Stacy Napier 4 years, 1 month ago

Your children are upset because they learn it from the parents. While I won't be as crass as Torch, children will adjust to any change. If they didn't all the school kids would be upset right now because they had to change buildings leaving the building they have gone to, some for 2-3 years. But instead they are excited because teachers and parents pushed that the new building was better.

You say they dread the move to Junior High. That is sad again that you cripple your children so they can not cope in a bigger school. My daughter was excited to go to BJHS in 6th grade and she came from a private school that went thru 6th grade and left all her friends behind. She was excited to have lockers and a real science room, among other things.

Where do you think children get things like bigotry. They learn it from the parents they don't get it on their own. So if the children are going to cry it is because the parents didn't work to make it a positive change.

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Chicramblings 4 years, 1 month ago

If the economic timeline serves me correctly, the downturn in the economy had already started at the point in time that the flyer and the bond was passed. In fact, many on the Speakout forum commented on the wisdom in undertaking such a bond in the economic environment. Now, I don't think anyone, let alone the Superintendent and Board of USD 348 could or did predict the severe downturn the economy took in the past 3 years nor the slowness of a recovery, so I agree that promises made 3 years ago, can be changed due to circumstances out of their control. However, not trying to speak for Ms. Smith, I read her posts more to question the honesty and truthfulness of the information that is now being presented by the Superintendent and School Board in light of promises made and kept from just 3 years ago. And when you stop and consider that some Board members were also present when the District "lost" $200,000 a few years back, I start to question the financial wisdom leading our district. I don't think we have a conspiracy theory here, but I want to make darn sure of the true benefits and costs of this decision both in the short-term and the long-term as well as the impact to the Baldwin community.

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docomom 4 years, 1 month ago

If the rural schools are closed, will they be able to take in the kids? Are there enough rooms? I heard they will have to change the Art room and the Reading Resource Room in to classrooms, and move them to the community room. That doesn't sound like very good planning to me, if that is the case. I agree with Chicramblings. I want to know EXACTLY what will be saved. Not some guesstimate of 120K-400K. Which is it? 120K? or 400? That's a huge difference.

And will someone please tell me if fencing and landscaping were included in the bond to build the new PC? And new laptop computers?

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tomfoolery 4 years, 1 month ago

Torch is an idiot. Some computer nerd, probably.

In a recent budget analysis, it was determined the outlying schools were 1% of the budget.

The schools in town do not have room for these students. They should remain in their communities. Mr. Dorathy and the board better think this one through if they want to keep their postiions.

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lisagaylesmith 4 years, 1 month ago

I do not think that there was a conspiracy. I have never thought there was a conspiracy. I will never believe the board had intentions of closing the rural schools when they promised me they would keep the rural schools open if I voted to build one in town. I only post the flyer in hopes that the board will keep the promise they made me. Some of the board members are my friends. I do not think they are liars and I have told them so. I have a lot of respect for five of the seven board members, even the ones I know who will vote to close schools. Mr. Dorathy did say he would keep the rural schools open during that time of campaigning for the new schools. He said it on a Tuesday out at Marion Springs and he sent an email to the rural teachers saying the same. The teachers and our principal remember it. He was pushing so hard for that new school that he coached our rural teachers on what to say to parents that were reluctant to vote for the new school. If you know a rural teacher ask them about it.

The rural schools will soon be closed and my kids may be sitting in crowded classes, possibly in rooms that were not even meant to be classrooms and possibly right next to a child who is parented by someone who hurls insults and hides behind the word "anonymous." I know they will still get an education and I know they will adjust. We all will. I don't think it will be worth the 200,000 to 400,000 in savings to crush the two communities but I will make the best of a bad situation.

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BigCat 4 years, 1 month ago

I am still shocked at the BOE (Scott) for wanting to spend this money RIGHT NOW! Why? Isn't this a cost saving measure so that when/if the budget gets cut next year you would have money to absorb that cut? Mr. Dorothy has said that the district is fine money wise for this year. So leave the schools alone. If you close them now and get cut next year where will you get the money? Leave them alone BOE and Dorothy until you can PROVE to the voters that this will save money and not impact education. You have yet to do that.
For those of you who do not think increasing class sizes has any impact on the young ones...guess again. It has a HUGE impact.

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Chicramblings 4 years, 1 month ago

I am in agreement with Big Cat. Cut the schools to just spend the money. Wake up taxpayers and community members, demand to understand the fundamentals of this decision, not just the $10 headlines that get spouted out by individuals that have not taken the time to understand the facts, or lack of facts, behind this decision. Connect the dots - we have scare tactics on one hand while the left hand is already doling out the savings.

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citymole 4 years, 1 month ago

Torch... maybe you are still in the barn? It DOES matter. My son went to Marion when we lived on the outskirts, when we moved to the city he had to transfer to the IC.....he went from exceeding standards to barley meeting them. The close knit school setting, smaller class sizes and the overall personalities of the rural school are TOTALLY different.. Yes, they will adjust to the hectic, over crowded atmosphere where bullying is as common as school books but at what cost? Until you , yourself have sat in a desk at MSE then be thrown in to the city schools to " adjust".. I consider your opinion, in your own words.. " Utter Crap"..

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 1 month ago

Citymole, now that is too far. The BESIC regularly meets all standards of excellence in every category. If your child failed to meet them, don't immediately blame the school. It is an EXCELLENT school, and how dare you denigrate it just to keep your precious small class sizes. In a perfect world, we'd all like that, but we aren't living in a perfect world. And you do a tremendous disservice to the very hardworking teachers, administrators and staff at the BESIC. Just low, very low of you citymole.

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BigCat 4 years, 1 month ago

Bog...we are however living in a world where class sizes CAN be kept low.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 1 month ago

That is your opinion, and you are welcome to it. However, it appears the school board might disagree with you.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Bloggerboo your blind faith in trusting the BOE and Dorathy is naive and laughable given their history. Perhaps you should question them more and the people whose only fault is being concerned with their kids education less.

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BigCat 4 years, 1 month ago

That is not my opinion that is a fact. The district can keep class sizes small. Now, whether the BOE wants to keep the class sizes small is another matter.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 1 month ago

It is your opinion. You do not have any knowledge of what the future holds for this state and this district. I believe Mr. Dorathy and the Board are trying to plan for the future financial well-being of this district and they seem to think that closing schools and putting that money to work elsewhere is in our best interest. So, how is it a fact that we can do that and also keep class sizes small? It is only a fact if we make serious cuts elsewhere. Apparently they don't want to make those other cuts. They may be wrong, they may be making the wrong choices and decisions, but it doesn't mean you know without any doubt facts like "we can keep class sizes small."

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BigCat 4 years, 1 month ago

You yourself admitted that class sizes can be kept small. Yes it would come at a cost, but they can in FACT be kept small. I never said that you could keep them small and still have this or that. All I said is that class sizes can be kept small.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

BigCat your wasting your time with Bloggerboo she doesn't care for the younger kids education. Bloggerboo's only concern is for her own kids that are already in JHS and HS. She only wants to make sure they will have a new activities director and more sports to play in. She has no concern for the kids K-5 education only in the entertainment of her own children.

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BigCat 4 years, 1 month ago

Sorry I meant to type Blog.

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citymole 4 years, 1 month ago

You may need to read my comment again. It says HE WENT from exceeding to not meeting them not the SCHOOL DOES NOT MEET the standards. He had been use to the atmosphere of a small, close knit school, who had the time and ability to take time out if needed and work with him or had a more comfortable setting where he wasn't intimidated by the hectic Rat race of the city school. And yes I can say that.. I have one who I put through Marion ( in which I choose to drive everyday for that convenience) and I have another child who has been in just the Primary School. There is a huge difference in the experience. Im not saying its the teachers.. so you took it too far with that assumption.. the teachers are great and work very hard with what they have. Its the environment, the passion and the last of a dying breed of rural school that so many want to cram in with mainstream for the sake of the mighty dollar.

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NanCrisp 4 years, 1 month ago

By the time my daughter was in 3rd grade at BES (then just ONE school undivided), I had a list of over 100 reasons why I was dissatisfied with the education she was receiving. That year, my son was attending MSES for kindergarten. Everything on my "con" list for BES was a "pro" at MSES. I.E. - I had a 180 degree opposite experience with MSES. Later, we decided to send my son to Quail Run Elementary because the whole family was in Lawrence all day except him. At Q.R., I found that the academic experience was quite superior to either BES or MSES, but that the bullying problems were rampant. In the final analysis, I would rank MSES the highest overall and BES the lowest overall of our entire public elementary school experiences. And I know that my family is not the only one that feels this way. It's fine with me that people like BES or MSES or Vinland or Quail Run. It should also be fine with those people that my family did not get what we wanted out of our children's educations at those institutions, and that we have found exactly what we are looking for at Bishop Seabury Academy private school. More choice -- not less!

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hipgrrrrl 4 years, 1 month ago

Interestingly enough, if one would do some digging in the BC Signal archives, one can see that in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009 and now in 2010, there has been a small and extremely vocal, pushy, offensive and condescending group of people who think that MS and VES should be closed. This is not a new fight and utilizing recently made up data as presented by the school board (as opposed to previously made up data presented to the school board) is not more sensible now than it was then. I'm guessing Blog was heavily involved in the previous attempts made to close the mentioned schools. Of course, at the time, the reasons were probably different. I mean, this time around, my kid truly struggling in school due to larger class sizes can't possibly compare to the inconvenience suffered by Blog's child when the trimmed budget created a situation where s/he had to sit around on the bus waiting for their optional athletic event to take place.

My suggestion to posters is to ignore the bully in the room. When someone can't even respond to well-articulated points and questions presented except by being snarky, why bother to interact with them? Of course, my mother always told me it was wiser to stand up to a bully than simply ignore one.

The greatest fool is he who thinks he is not one and all others are. ~ Baltasar Gracián

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citymole 4 years, 1 month ago

You make awesome points ! im glad to see someone else also has a child struggling due to class size. That was the point I was trying to make to Blogerboo but she took it as a disservice to the teachers rather then getting the point of the post. Anyway, thanks for your shared opinion :)

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Citymole, if you read the posts on here at all you will soon come to realize that Bloggerboo and the torch are what is called internet trolls. They have no real concern for anyone but the grief they can cause with their posts.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 1 month ago

Oh, so because I happen to have a different opinion than you, and I share it here, I am a troll? Grow up.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

No Bloggerboo it's because it's you who keeps spouting the same old non-sense laced with mis-information and telling us all how we should trust the BOE and Dorathy. At the same time you try to further dilute the waters of a meaningful discussion by spreading strife about how this is all about City patrons versus Rural patrons when in fact it's about the kids and their education. You have also shown through your posts that your only concern is for your own kids and making sure they have plenty of sports to play in and that they have a good time doing it. You have no concern for all 600+ kids in K-5 that will be impacted by this change. You don't care that they will be cramming kids into rooms that were never meant to be classrooms. You have no concern for the Teachers of those kids K-5 who will have a harder time educating our kids since they will have to do it in over crowded class rooms. You are the one that needs to grow up Bloggerboo, I really feel sorry for your kids, hopefully they wont grow up to be as shallow as you are.

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Julie Craig 4 years, 1 month ago

I share some of the other poster's concerns that when the so-called savings are spent, we are going to be back at square one with more budget cuts if the State can't maintain its level of support..

It's concerning to me as a taxpayer to see all of the new bells and whistles being purchased to keep up with the "Joneses" and then costing the district more money. I read the wish lists of the Baldwin Schools. The schools are prioritizing the addition of technology staff because the new stuff breaks down or they don't know how to use it.

I don't have a problem with children using computers at school, but they don't HAVE to have smart boards or lap tops with projectors to learn.

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NanCrisp 4 years, 1 month ago

Absolutely! One of the things that has really struck me since my kids started attending private school is that the school actively looks for ways to save money rather than always having their hand out to get more to spend. And because their mission is first and foremost to prepare middle and high school students for success in college, it's the athletic programs and not the academics that often suffer in tight budget situations. There is accountability at all levels because they know that the only way they are going to keep their doors open is to appropriately educate and serve the students and their families. Makes a big difference in how they determine their budget, how they project their future funding, and how they administer their programs.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 1 month ago

And what is that school's enrollment, Nan? K-12?

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

I can tell you one of the most promising in the area is Bishop Seabury Academy and they have a student body of 147 students grades 7-12, they are planning on adding 6th grade next year.

The average cost of tuition is $11k which is in line if not less then what we are paying now between Federal and State money in our public schools, yet they are providing a much better ROI then are a public schools are.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 1 month ago

And, you prove my point for me. A large majority do not want to send their kids there because there are few, (and they are lame by comparison), sports or extra-curricular options there. Those are the facts. Most people in this country realize how important sports and coaches are to many, many of our students.

Like it or not, athletics, art, music, debate, journalism, theater, and other special extra-curricular activities, are extremely valuable to students well beyond their school-age years. If you don't understand this, I pity your children.

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Chicramblings 4 years, 1 month ago

Bloggerboo, from looking at Bishop Seabury personally and speaking with others that considered such a choice for educating their children, the issue is not one of activities or the lameness of such activities. Actually, their activities in some areas are top notch. The issue is more financial in that the State of Kansas does not allow your tax dollars to follow your child to the school of choice. So I would be paying $11k on top of the $11k that I already pay to USD 348 to educate my children. Furthermore, based on people in this town, my opinion or right to speak on issues related to taxes and education in USD 348 would be discredited because "my children don't go to school here".

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Chic, what Bloggerboo doesn't realize is that it's unfair to expect others to pay for something that only benefits about 5% of the entire student body at the cost of something that benefits about 50% of the student body.

I have always viewed this push to close the rural schools as education versus sports. Thus the reason some like Bloggerboo have put it as HS/JHS versus the K-5 kids. They don't want to lose their vaunted Sports programs, but have no problem making Teachers and the children of the grades K-5 deal with less so they can have something to do on a Friday night. I know some of you will preach about the value of sports to kids, but really it doesn't matter that is not what our schools were supposed to do thus why we call them EXTRA curricular activates. If you parents who feel that they are so valuable then you can shell out all the extra money needed to keep them.

Personally, I would rather move to something like BCRC where the parents can sign up and pay per Activity. That would be a much fairer option for everyone, but you see then I would not be subsidizing Bloggerboo's kids activities and she might have to pay the full cost for them rather then making me pay for them .

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Buckeye 4 years, 1 month ago

When will the BOE and Mr. Dorathy directly answer our questions? Taxpayers deserve to know how they arrived at a $400,000 savings . And I'm tired of the answer "Its in the fact finding commitee report." Those numbers will be 2 years old. We deserve a breakdown with current figures. The BOE and taxpayers should have a detailed plan of not only classroom configuration , but bussing. Will we need to purchase another bus to ensure kids aren't riding too long. And for those who will comment "that doesn't matter" try riding those routes . Plus it's a safety issue. The BOE & Mr. Dorathy are saying we need to close rural schools because the state may cut us more, so why are they so quick to spend the savings. What if they're wrong about the $400,000 savings and we have now spent that in teacher's raises, then what. Don't get me wrong, those teachers deserve way more than any district pays them. Our society 's values are completely screwed when we pay athletes millions for entertaining , and teachers' $20 to $40 thousand for educating our children. We are walking a slippery slope in our own district of placing a higher value on sports than education. Beware. The future of our country lyes in educating our children so they can deal with the problems our past and current adminitration have created. That education starts at K-5, so lets give them the best environment for learning. And I'm pretty sure cramming them in small rooms, and a new sports complex is not how we can best accomplish that task. I know we are in tough times with tough decisions , but I think we are making the wrong priorities. Again , I am wondering when the BOE and Mr. Dorathy will answer questions the taxpayers have. I'm tired of talking and getting no answers. If they feel they have enough information for closing the schools, they should have no problem aswering the questions of those taxpayers .

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Good luck in getting them to answer....half the meetings are held behind closed doors in what the BOE and the administration call "Executive Sessions". I still don't understand what they feel like they have to discuss behind closed doors since there is nothing that they should be doing that we the voting and paying public don't have the right to know.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 1 month ago

They typically have meetings once a month, where, even if they aren't answering direct questions, you can usually go and listen to find out what is going on. Until they go into executive session.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Yes, "Executive Sessions", as I said above not sure why we have those, there is nothing that they should need to talk about that can't be done in front of their bosses, the voting and tax paying public.

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Bloggerboo 4 years, 1 month ago

Well, there is, as attorney below states. I didn't say that the executive sessions were for discussing matters like closing buildings or making financial decisions.

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Chicramblings 4 years, 1 month ago

The BOE does have monthly meetings, however, have you been to one where there has been an in-depth discussion among the members of the Board which would supply the answers to the above questions? I have heard Board members ask for more information and for clarification/correction of information in the fact finding report, but I have yet to see the information or clarification/corrections made.

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Buckeye 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm aware of what happens at the meetings. I'm at every one of them. I have asked questions and they don't answer. Do we need to call for a town hall event? I'm sure they could add response time to the agenda if they wish.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

I think what we need is to call for a mass recall or emergency vote and start replacing BOE members as well administration.

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my3chix 4 years, 1 month ago

What happens to the rural kids in a couple of years when the town schools hit max capacity? Do they plan on kicking the rural kids out and shipping them back? How is that going to affect their self esteem and pecking order? Closing of these rural schools will impact their education , emotional , and social skills. It is well documented that children do better in these areas if they don't change schools. Yes I agree children can adjust, but how many times can we ask them to do so?

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1776attorney 4 years, 1 month ago

Executive Sessions under Kansas Sunshine Laws are for discussions involving personnel matters whereby an employee's personal information or employment may be discussed. This protects the employee's privacy.

Any discussion of matters involving the operation, administration or strategy of the school district must be in a public forum. It is a violation of Kansas Law to even discuss these kind of matters outside of a public venue at a stated official time and place.

Elected officials have been prosecuted by the state for as little as 2 or more elected officials meeting at restaurants, having a good meal or coffee, and discussing public business between themselves.

The starting place for investigating this would be with the Kansas Attorney General's office. I would suggest a letter writing campaign to that office. Be polite, factual, and omit the emotions and deal with real events in contacting those officials. They will be obligated to investigate if they are presented with real facts.

It seems very overdue that a recall campaign should at least be discussed publicly and openly. Board members should be confronted with this prospect to finally hit home the anger the public feels.

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

So basically your telling me that the Administrator we hired can't even make decisions about staff with out first discussing it with the BOE??

This to me seems like Superintendent is really not needed. I'm just not sure why we keep filling this position at all. I think perhaps if we really need to save money perhaps that is the area we could do it under.

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Redflyer 4 years, 1 month ago

1776attorney, thanks for posting that!! While we are talking legal issues, my attorney advised me that Kansas has an "open records law." It states that school districts have to open their records if requested to do so. They have 3 business days to comply or must notify you in writing if they can't meet the allowable time. If neither one of those things happen it is considered a misdemeanor. Can you provide anymore information on this issue?

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1776attorney 4 years, 1 month ago

Redflyer, I would suggest you make a request as to what subject matter is/was discussed in the last years Executive Sessions. Be firm, but professional and polite always. Exclude any pursuit of employee discussions or third party privacy. Let's not embarrass an innocent third party or even the BOE unjustifiably.

See how they comply. See what they discussed. This isn't a witch hunt, it's a pursuit of the truth and holding public, elected officials accountable.

It appears from the history of this BOE (and very clearly not all board members) and the school administration, they like to be very sneaky and deceptive and slam through their pet projects that many in the citizenry object to.

The Merle Venable Sports Complex naming was one example. Let the subject sit idle after the public voiced their opposition, then slam it through unannounced when the public has forgotten several months later.

The rural school closings appears to be following the same sneaky pattern.

This school district should have economized and adjusted to the economic downturn like 320 million Americans have had to. Instead, they seem to have gone on a spending spree and tax hike expedition. Under the radar talk of hiring an Athletic Director while short changing the students educational pursuits if pure ignorance.

You best represent your opposition by doing so from strength of character by being forceful, determined, and right on the issue, while making sure to always be truthful, polite and respectful. Present facts, not fuzzy, semi-truthful issues.

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hipgrrrrl 4 years, 1 month ago

So, this is not so complex. If there are any questions about what is being discussed via Executive Session, an open records request with provide that information - if, of course, the School Board has kept accurate records...and who knows about that :). If they have not been obeying the law, they can be penalized and likely embarrassed - one hopes.

I guess one question would be regards what steps one would take to launch a recall vote...and possibly an investigation of Mr. Dorothy's actions while in his position. If he has nothing to hide, he (or the entirety of the SB) have no worries. If there is something to hide, we might luck out and get an administrator who doesn't think the only way to educate our children is to provide a highly paid Athletic Director.

Additionally, the "savings" projected to be gained by closing MS and V is way too broad. No one should find it to be a viable situation until there are hard numbers - and frankly, they shouldn't be hard to find. This broad scope provided is indicative of either bad financial record keeping or sneaky reporting in order to swing opinion in the direction of those in favor of school closings. Neither of these are acceptable and shouldn't be to any taxpayer.

Lastly, does anyone know of the procedure required in order to close a school? I know that in the LTE I referenced earlier (from back in 2000), there was mention of a lawsuit but I don't know why a lawsuit was mentioned there and has not been discussed here.

It seems that Mr. Dorathy has forgotten that he is paid by those he "serves". What can we, as a concerned community, do to remind him of that very simple fact?

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1776attorney 4 years, 1 month ago

The Douglas County County Clerk's office assists with elections and provides unbiased, independent information on recalling public officials and the procedures.

I would only suggest that before you take recall efforts, you make sure all your ducks are in a row. Have all your information and facts. Make your decision based on those facts, not emotions or anger.

I would also like to suggest that not all board members are equal or deserving of being recalled or embarrassed. I cannot make that decision on individual board members, however, it would be very detrimental to someone's cause celeb if you don't do your homework. You may unfairly drag a good person into your recall efforts and also discourage good, qualified people from seeking public office in the future.

I'm only offering my personal opinion and not legal advice.

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Redflyer 4 years, 1 month ago

1776attorney, thank you very much for all of your knowledgable opinions. They have been very helpful. I appreciate your interest and input!

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