Archive for Thursday, March 31, 2011

Letter to the editor

March 31, 2011

To the editor:

Last night (March 23) at the BOE candidate forum I heard words like “healing the community,” “more transparency,” “better communication” and “quality of education.” Today, from trusted sources, I hear that a local business owner has assembled a slate of candidates whose primary agenda is to nullify the decision of the previous school board and re-open Marion Springs and Vinland in spite of the revenue shortfall. If my information is correct, I am calling for that business owner and those candidates to shed the cloaks of invisibility and put all their cards on the table. Your neighbors and fellow patrons deserve nothing less. What I did not hear last night was a plan to deal with more revenue cuts; what to do when the state board of education is replaced by a Secretary of Education and/or when the “No Child Left Behind” initiative is repealed. While we are wondering about the future – Under Title 9, if we lose a boys sports, say basketball, does that mean the proposed girl’s soccer program is a nonstarter?

Mike Gammage

Baldwin City


solo 11 years, 6 months ago

If what Mr. Gammage says is true then that would make the bulk of the candidates liars as almost all of them, with the exception of Mr. Dillon, stated that the decision to close Marion Springs and Vinland was a done deal and we need to move on. Let's hope that there is no hidden agenda amongst our neighbors who have offered themselves up for election to a thankless job. I just don't see those kind of conspiracies going on in the district.

I am unsure what Mr. Gammage is implying when he states that a local business man has "assembled a slate of candidates". The inference is that there is something wrong with a local business owner encouraging others to run for public office. Unless this local business owner is doing something unethical like paying the candidates to run (which of course is ludicrous) then I see nothing wrong with that kind of involvement by a taxpayer who has an opinion and a financial stake (taxes) in the game. Frankly, if all people would show a little less apathy and a little more interest in the process we'd be a better community.


rochester 11 years, 6 months ago

If you want to point fingers, why don't we ask about the "election special" at Kite Video.


BigCat 11 years, 6 months ago

Or current board members urging friends to run.

I know of no alliance other than Robin Bayer and Chad Christie's and whoever else they talked into joining since they took down the photos. Why is that guys? Why hide?

I personally know some of the candidates on the "side" that you speak of, and there is nobody behind the scenes. I can say with 100% confidence that your "source" is wrong.


Justask 11 years, 6 months ago

I'm confused. The "election special" at Kite Video is if you bring in an "I voted" sticker on Tuesday, you get a deal on renting a dvd or two. They aren't going to ask whom you voted for. They run specials like that all the time.


Julie Craig 11 years, 6 months ago

Well, Mr. Gammage, my "trusted sources" tell me there is also a group of business owners in Baldwin backing another slate of candidates. This slate is brainwashed to believe that we need a bigger, more beautiful Baldwin with new schools, curriculum that includes rocket science classes, and more facilities to attract growth.

Everyone's agenda should be to elect intelligent individuals with common sense who want what is best for the entire school district. Let's focus on the financial health of taxpayers and maintain what we already have.


Slade 11 years, 6 months ago

Am I the business owner? My business is registered as an LLC in the State of Missouri, but I guess that is somewhat local since I work at home. If I’m the financier, I owe myself about $31 to cover a little bit of gasoline, a $5 filing fee, and about five calls received on my cell at 10 cents a minute.

The plan for budget cuts: 1) Take an inventory. Businesses that don’t take an inventory usually have a convenient built-in excuse to go broke, so let’s make a real and meaningful attempt to determine the value of the district’s assets.

2) Construct a balance sheet. Why this is an inconceivable and foreign concept regarding a governmental entity that educates our children is beyond me. It is not impossible, and at this point, the public deserves readily available and reliable financial information.

3) Construct a comprehensive statement of cash flows with all associated operational and capital outlay costs accounted to provide an accurate cost analysis overview of each district function and facility. It would be progress if more than one or two people in this town could fully explain the location and value of district contingency funds.

4) Be inquisitive and open to constructive criticism. It doesn’t bother me at this moment that other districts currently make higher academic marks than our own, but we should find out what these other school systems are doing to achieve better overall performance ratings. And we shouldn’t ignore the things we are already doing that have been proven over time to provide measurable benefits to the entire district.

5) Self-awareness. The district doesn’t appear to consider itself a competitive entity. Parents’ choice in education of their children is more or less disregarded by the current administration and board in their decision-making process.

6) Cut out the dishonesty. If lying to the rural population was necessary to pass an unaffordable bond issue during a recession/depression, the bond issue was quite likely a terrible idea.

That’s a plan. If you have a better plan, or if you see fundamental flaws with this plan, please tell me about it. 594-3223. 245 E 1600 Rd. I’d love to hear any and all ideas that will make this an even better place to live.

Once we know who we are, and where we stand, we could begin to look at the allocation decisions on a district level. Until a little basic groundwork is laid, there isn’t any responsible way to make the decisions necessary to make #348 the top school district in the state. I have absolutely no interest in this little town being second best to anyone.


Torch 11 years, 6 months ago

There is no flaw in the plan.

Good luck executing it. For whatever reason too many people in this soap opera of a town have their own rice bowls to protect.

I would be interested in knowing whether or not the aid promised by the state when we stupidly passed the school bond ever showed up. It was a huge selling point but no one I've asked has been able to tell me.

Here are some links that discuss it:

"27 percent state aid"

"state government would provide 27 percent of the funding."

Can you (or anyone else around here) tell me whether the state came through? Or did that major selling point when Amy Cleavinger was mortgaging our future fail to show up?


Julie Craig 11 years, 6 months ago

OK Torch - On the KSDE website there is a school finance tab. According to that, the District has received two payments for state aid "capital improvement-bond and interest" in 2010-2011. The first was $243,608 and the second was $414,794. This is actually a little more than the 27% promised. . . . Let. It. Go.


Torch 11 years, 6 months ago

Thank you for posting that.

It's not a matter of letting anything go - I simply had not gotten that information.

As far as the $chool Bond - that I won't let go of as it has lengthy ramifications for everyone in the community. It was a huge mistake and we're all going to pay for it for a long, long, time.

That's something worth remembering the next time the Amy Cleavingers of the world try to sell us an albatross.


Bakerboy25 11 years, 6 months ago

All Mike said was this be honest about our intentions. If you want the school open or closed. Just let us know which way the wind is blowing. That is not hard.


Sandy_Chapman 11 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Gammage,

I don’t believe we have met or talked, but as one of ten candidates whose honesty is questioned in your letter to editor, I feel inclined to respond. I was one, of several, who responded the “decision has been made it is time to move on”. From an operational perspective, an incoming board candidate, seated in July, cannot change this decision. The administration and current board are working on next year’s budget. Their path to bridge the funding cuts from the Legislature is through the anticipated savings from the school consolidations. Additionally, as I look forward, the new Board will have many other challenges to immediately work on, some of which you mentioned. Before we can start to navigate or jump to conclusions on how to navigate future issues, we need to figure out where we are now as a district academically and financially and provide the understanding to the community. Once we know where we truly are, we can start making short-term and long-term plans to allocate resources to address needs and position to navigate future legislative changes.

I also answered let’s move forward because as a community, we need to get over this. We need to stop bringing it up, taking sides and keeping the community divided. At this point it doesn’t matter what “side” one was on – let’s shake hands, agree to disagree and support making USD 348 great. The more people continue to make an issue out of this, the more issues we will have. Instead, we need to get focused on making this work, retaining our students, improving student achievement, and navigating the ever changing political and economic environment.

As always, my phone (785-883-4993 or 913-709-7568), door (637 E. 2100 Road) and email ( are open to any that would like to discuss issues, have questions or concerns.


LAGNAFinaCJ 11 years, 6 months ago

thank you Sandy standing up clapping

Dan Wilcox


lisagaylesmith 11 years, 6 months ago

Slade, I've been following your campaign and you are quickly becoming one of my favorite Baldwin citizens. I made 45 phone calls today and asked my neighbors and friends to vote for you. I appreciate your frank and honest approach. This letter questioning the honesty of candidates is ridiculous. The only group I know that was formed was the MOVE BALDWIN FORWARD group and their website came online the morning after the vote to close schools. How ironic. Some of the candidates at the forum were honest enough to admit they were running because they were afraid there would be cuts to sports. I was amazed that anyone would be THAT honest. The current board is making sure that there is no way the rural schools can be reopened. They are spending up all their "saved money" from the close of rural schools so there will be no way we have a chance of saving our small communities. The four candidates that win, even if they want to, would have to be miracle workers to find the money at this point. It sure would be HORRIBLE if any sports took a cut, wouldn't it? The board of education should be educating our children first, not playing games with them.


abttoretire 11 years, 6 months ago

"Some of the candidates at the forum were honest enough to admit they were running because they were afraid there would be cuts to sports."

Lisa, You read and hear only what you want to read and hear and then you put your paranoid spin on it. Not a single candidate said they were running out of fear that sports will be cut. Only the incumbant bothered to do homework to find that sports take up 1% of the entire budget. It is an understatement to say you are grasping at straws.

Regardless of the outcome, I truly wish your children luck in life.


BigCat 11 years, 6 months ago

The incumbent didn't bother to do that research. Mr. Dorothy did, and he presented it at the meetings at VES and MSES months ago. And Mr. Christie did admit that the whole reason that he got involved was because 7th grade sports were being DISCUSSED as a POSSIBLE cut. Some should worry a little more about education and a little less about sports, but I guess ignorance is bliss.


Chicramblings 11 years, 6 months ago

I further recall that the incumbent was questioned later by a candidate on what exactly was in the 1% number - if it included all costs and the incumbent wasn't able to answer. Easy and shallow to quote numbers, more difficult to be able to understand them...


abttoretire 11 years, 6 months ago

And he was asked that question by Slade Dillon. Who clearly does not know as much as he thinks he does.


Julie Craig 11 years, 6 months ago

abt . . . You need to retire that haters attitude. You sound like you're the one who is having paranoia issues. Wow.


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