Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Architect offers to draw plans for Baldwin Junior High auditorium remodel at no cost

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

June 13, 2012

Two developments have given the Baldwin school board more to consider in its ongoing discussion of district facilities.

The issue has been before the board since April, when it received recommendations from district administrators about the future uses of all district properties.

As the discussion continued at a special meeting Monday, the board learned that the district architect has offered to produce a remodeling plan for the old Baldwin Junior High School auditorium at no cost to the district and that Neosho County Community College is interested in leasing part of the closed Vinland Elementary School.

The most pressing issue before the board is whether to spend the about $600,000 in funds remaining from the 2008 bond issue on remodeling the old junior high auditorium or dedicate the money to retirement of bond debt and interest.

“Since our last meeting, I’ve certainly heard from people who want us to pay down the debt,” said board member Sandy Chapman.

But she and other board members weren’t ready to make that decision Monday.

Superintendent Paul Dorathy said the board did face a decision on the money in regard to the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget that will be crafted in the next two months.

The board could keep the money in reserve as it explores remodeling options for another year and ultimately use the funds to retire the bond debt, Dorathy said. But he said if board members wanted to use the money to reduce the mill levy for debt and interest in the district’s 2012-2013 budget, they needed to make that decision at their June 24 meeting.

Complicating the discussion is the board’s uncertainty about what $600,000 could accomplish in the old auditorium and what the reuses of that space would be. Among the uses the board has discussed is it be a wrestling and cheerleading practice facility should the old gymnasium of Chapel Street be sold, added storage space and a weight-lifting room.

Board member Ruth Barkley said she toured the old auditorium after the board’s last meeting and found there was a good deal of space behind the stage. She suggested that could be used for classrooms.

Kevin Grieshar, of the district’s architectural firm DLR Group, has agreed to develop a plan for the space based on district needs at no cost to the district, board President Ande Parks said.

To do that correctly, the architect would first meet with a committee of board representatives, building principals and junior high and high school faculty to identify needs, Dorathy said. That process would require time beyond the June 24 deadline for the 2012-2013 budget, it was agreed.

In another facilities matter, Dorathy said he met with Neosho County Community College officials interested in leasing the closed Vinland Elementary School for welding and construction classes. The community college was interested in the school’s gymnasium and bathrooms, he said.

Community college officials would like to start classes at Vinland in January, Dorathy said. Should the courses prove successful, the college would be interested in leasing additional space at the school for other classes.

The college understands the board wants to lease the building at a fair rate, Dorathy said. But he said no figure had yet been developed.

Should Neosho County start using Vinland, it would end any possibility the district could use it for classes, Dorathy said. Vinland has been suggested as a possible home for the East Central Kansas Cooperative or temporary overflow classrooms should Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate School’s enrollment exceed its capacity.

That prospect of losing the Vinland classroom option made Parks and other board members uneasy, especially without lease details.

“I’d like to know what kind of dollars we would get,” Parks said. “If it’s $20,000 a year, it’s not worth it. If it’s $120,000, that’s different.”

The board will again take up the facilities’ discussion at its June 24 meeting.


hyperinflate 8 years, 4 months ago

Parks is easily the most financially-illiterate person to ever hold elective office. Not to mention his flash powder temper. Quite a winner we got there.


Goldie 8 years, 4 months ago

Common sense seems to be in short supply where Parks is concerned. Basic math Ande. C'mon man


1776attorney 8 years, 4 months ago

I might suggest this theory regarding the old junior high auditorium based on what we have seen over the past 4 or 5 years from the superintendent and several school boards.

I have no information to the contrary so I don't want to impinge the intentions of the school architect. Perhaps his actions are motivated in a sincere desire to contribute. (Remembering of course, should any actual construction commence on this project next year, his firm stands to collect a nice sized construction management fee.)

I am a little more suspicious and cautious when it comes to the superintendent and school board.

The school board could vote later this month to allocate the remaining $600,000 towards a bond pay down and reduction in the mill levy assessed on home property taxes, which incidentally are the highest of all school districts in Douglas County now. From all my discussions, this is the option a majority of taxpayers want.

Out of the blue now, the school architect offers a "freebie" architectural study that no doubt is going to show everyone what great and exciting things the junior high auditorium could be transformed into. But, of course, this is going to take months to accomplish and no way, no how can this study be accomplished before the next school board meeting and a vote on what to do with the extra $600,000. Oooops. Look for that decision to be delayed until the Fall now. A good excuse has now suddenly materialized that the taxpayers can be hoodwinked with.

Come October or November, look for the architect's study to show what a great interior space the junior high auditorium is and what a superb opportunity it is to transform it with that $600,000 that taxpayers have forgotten about. Taxpayers have such a short memory.

And double ooops, that $600,000 isn't quite enough money to transform the junior high auditorium so the school board will have to add a few hundred thousand dollars from the capital fund.

Another fast one pulled on USD 348 taxpayers.

This superintendent's management style is "spend, spend, spend". That seems to be all he knows about. Every few months it's some new extravagance, be it $20 million in new school buildings, 400 iPads (and new staff to service them), a costly privatization of the bus service, a hidden agenda to hire a new athletic director, a new administration, maintenance and bus facility and now, a complete transformation of the junior high auditorium.

All in the middle of the worst economic environment in the past 100 years.

The voters had high hopes in dumping the previous school board and installing new members. We need to give them an opportunity to perform. At this early stage, however, I am hearing some of the same opinions from school board members that were rejected in the last election.


1776attorney 8 years, 4 months ago

Since I am informed that the school board intentionally does not record individual votes in their meeting minutes, I would appreciate someone posting these on here after each meeting.

I question the legality and ethics of this, but in the mean time, they could simply be reported on here.


Bloggerboo 8 years, 4 months ago

Why don't you just go to the dang meetings and see for yourself, attorney? Worst economic condition of the last 100 years? Come on. Maybe you've heard of this little thing called the Depression.

I'm not saying we're rolling in dough, but don't make absurd statements. Also, not everything the super does is about spending. He's made cuts, along with the board. They closed two school buildings eliminating administration jobs and some utility spending. The busing issue is a proposal, not a done deal. It is hoped that the iPads will eventually, not very far away, be more frugal than paying for new textbooks which are out of date as soon as they are printed. In fact, many, many institutions are already going this route, not to mention the value of integrating technology into the classroom and student's hands this brings.


hyperinflate 8 years, 4 months ago


Please keep in mind that the above poster has lots of reasons to defend the policies that she is defending. Specifically 8 years' worth.



Torch 8 years, 4 months ago

Before you give Dorathy too much credit for making the cuts, remember that he kept those schools open for several years because it would 'only' save the district about $200,000 a year to close them. (I think that was the number when they did their study.) He said at that time that he felt it was worth it to the district to keep them open.

I'm not going to stir up that old debate...but Dorathy didn't want the political battle associated with closures so he agreed to continue to spend $200k a year (that's a paultry $1 million over five years.)

He's not as bad as Jim White, who spent money we didn't have, but he is a spender.


1776attorney 8 years, 4 months ago

Yes, I remember. Thanks for your comments.


Bloggerboo 8 years, 4 months ago

It's interesting you respond to hyperinflate's incorrect assumption about my identity, but you can't refute any of what I said. Thanks for engaging in an intelligent discussion. Things in this district are not as one-sided as you and hyper and others seem to think.


Stacy Napier 8 years, 4 months ago

If they have an option to spend it on buildings that mean nothing to teaching they will do it. Wrestling and Cheerleading pratice area. Really? what job will that help you get. How about an underground parking garage so that all the staff can have their own parking spot.

You know what we really need is a doomsday shelter for all the kids. It is getting close.

Pay your debt down first. This is the most basic first principle in finance.


501gdm2 8 years, 4 months ago

The bond was passed to build a new school not to remodel another school! The money should be used to pay debt down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The school is not doing the voters of this community right, and if the improvement is made, this will come back to haunt the school system in the end.


Bloggerboo 8 years, 4 months ago

The bond issue had multiple items on the agenda, one of which was improvements and renovations to the junior high.


kermit 8 years, 4 months ago

Pay the debt down! I cannot believe that there is even a discussion about this.


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