Archive for Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Baldwin board agrees to put Marion Spring on market

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

May 23, 2012

The Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education unanimously agreed to put the closed Marion Springs Elementary School on the market.

District administrators in a report shared with the board last month made the recommendation to sell the land. Superintendent Paul Dorathy said he would meet with an individual soon who had expressed interest in buying the property.

It was the board’s second discussion on facilities since receiving a report in April from district administrators with recommendations for the future uses of all district properties. At a special meeting this month, the board rejected the report’s recommendation the district build a new multi-use center to house district offices, a bus barn, maintenance and other functions. Instead, the board agreed it wanted to make use of unused district properties should the district sell the old Chapel Street gymnasium or trade the two metal buildings on the south side of Chapel Street to Baker University for lease considerations at Liston Stadium. One of the metal buildings houses district maintenance and the other is home to East Central Kansas Educational Cooperative offices.

Two unused sites the board specifically wanted to explore as possible homes for relocated programs were the Baldwin Junior High School auditorium and Vinland Elementary School.

A factor in any new use of Vinland Elementary is the interest of Johnson County and Neosho County community colleges in the site. Dorathy said he would meet with JCCC representatives this week about the building and Neosho County officials would tour the building in the coming weeks.

Dorathy said the community colleges primarily were interested in the Vinland school’s gymnasium but might want other space. The superintendent said he did not know what Neosho County’s interest was, but JCCC was looking at the site to expand its popular welding program.

The board was cautious about the community colleges’ interest in Vinland Elementary because it has discussed using the closed school for a number of possible future uses, including intermediate school classrooms should the district experience unexpected growth, a maintenance shop, Eastern Kansas Education Cooperative offices and classes and wrestling and cheerleading practice space. But the board did authorize Dorathy to meet with the JCCC representatives about their needs and possible lease terms.

It was reported Monday there was $600,000 left in the 2008 bond issue that could be used to remodel the old auditorium rather than to retire bond debt. Board member Sandy Chapman said the remodel would add so much to the junior high she thought it appropriate to use the money on the auditorium.

However, other board members wondered how much $600,000 could accomplish. The answer would require an engineer studying the space for a specific reuse, Dorathy said.

The possible auditorium reuse and Dorathy’s report on his meeting with JCCC representatives will be discussed again at a special meeting the board scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 11. Also on the agenda for that meeting will be a possible switch to contract bus service and interviews with candidates to replace board member Tony Wedel.


1776attorney 8 years, 5 months ago

"It was reported Monday there was $600,000 left in the 2008 bond issue that could be used to remodel the old auditorium rather than to retire bond debt."

Considering that the previous school board was essentially run out of office for their irresponsible spending and deceptive management of the public's trust, might I suggest that these new school board members show the taxpayers that they are better managers and use this $600,000 to retire some of the outstanding bond issue and reduce the mill levy for the district.

Unfortunately, the current school board is paying the price for the previous boards flaunting of the public's trust and responsible management of taxpayer monies.

With all due respect, Ms. Chapman, your comments have the familiar tone of the previous school board. I understand that this short quote may not reflect your complete thoughts, but please remember why the previous board was so despised. They existed in a "bubble" that distorted their perception of what the taxpayers wanted and expected, and then flagrantly disregarded taxpayers and occasionally misrepresented their intentions.

It appears that the US economy will slip back into recession in 2013 and thus put even more financial pressure and uncertainty on local homeowners and taxpayers. Now is the time to plan ahead and consider these future possibilities; something that was ignored with the original new school bond issue by both the superintendent and school board.

Wise management dictates managing the current obligations responsibly, paying down the debt, reducing the mill levy and re-considering new buildings after the economy has recovered and the local taxpayers are in better financial positions.


straightforward 8 years, 5 months ago

The kids could really benefit from having two new auditoriums right next to each other. Let's go ahead and blow the rest of the money.



Julie Craig 8 years, 5 months ago

It's my understanding that the Board is going to try to re-purpose the old auditorium for either classrooms or the cheer-wrestling practice space.


1776attorney 8 years, 5 months ago

We have a relatively small school district that encompasses city and rural students. For 50+ years the district has functioned just fine with it's current bus service. I am not aware of any major issues or problems being discussed during all that time.

So why would we need to hire a contract transportation company to manage our moderately sized school bus services and bring in out-of-town people who are unfamiliar with the community and patrons to preform an essential school service that is functioning just fine right now?

The benefits of the current bus service are numerous- employment and management at the local level, familiarity with the area and patrons, cost savings versus hiring a 3rd party to perform these services and "make a profit" off taxpayers, and a local manager who is one-phone-call-accessible.

The obsession of our current superintendent and un-named administrators to be a Johnson County-like school district is bankrupting the community and is unnecessary.

How about the school district devote more effort and their available monies to making our students better educated and more adaptable to their future career opportunities.


Torch 8 years, 5 months ago


I agree with your comments but you're wasting your breath. More than one of us spoke out about the ignorance of taking on $23 million worth of debt on the cusp of a recession that most reasonable people saw was coming. Look up the articles from 2008 on this site and you'll see the comments.

Not only did the 'leadership' of the community ignore it, so did the majority of the voters in the election held to decide whether to do it or not.

Despite experiencing the recession up-close, some people in this town continue to live in a vacuum and at times act as if everything is ok here in Baldwin while the rest of the world is suffering.

It's sad.


ksfbcoach 8 years, 5 months ago

Too many former Lawrence or at least "wanna-be" Lawrence people living here now.....


llitteer 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm not aware of any problems with the bus situation as it is or why we would want an outside for-profit company running our buses for us.

I know that the buses provide transportation services during the Day Out With Thomas and other events with the revenue received going to our school district. If an out-of-town operator were to take over the bus service, would those community-service uses still exist and would the school district receive the proceeds from such operations?

I'm in favor of spending the surplus bond money to retire bonds, not be spent just because it is burning the school boards' and administration's pockets. Over spending by the school district has resulted in tax levies that are driving people, especially older people, out of their homes, and some restraint on the part of our public officials would be a welcome change.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.