Baldwin board asks superintendent to investigate new legal representation during annual reappointments
The Baldwin school board’s annual reorganization that come with the first meeting of the new fiscal year hit two snags Monday.
The board welcomed three new members elected in April, Ivan Huntoon, Greg Kruger and Nicole Tiller. They joined sitting board members Sheryl Gill and Sandy Chapman in re-electing Nick Harris board president for the coming year and elected Chad Christie as board vice president.
The board also made a long series of annual appointments, such as district board clerk, truancy officers, board treasurer and Baldwin City Signal as the official district newspaper.
But two recommendations earned comment from board members and will be revisited in August.
The first of those was the recommendation to reappoint Bob Bezek the district’s attorney. Board member Sandy Chapman asked for further discussion on that appointment, saying she felt that Bezek had not made the district a priority.
Board member Chad Christie was the most vocal of board members sharing that concern. But both he and Chapman wondered how the district could change its attorney when Bezek was involved in several ongoing matters.
Superintendent Paul Dorathy said the board could reappoint Bezek but still retain another attorney. He said the board could also get legal representation through the Kansas Association of School Boards.
The board voted 4-1-1 to reappoint Bezek with the understanding that Dorathy would explore other legal representation for the district for the board’s consideration next month. Tiller abstained from the vote, and Chapman voted against the motion.
“Lets keep it on the front burner,” Chapman said of the search for other legal representation.
The board also tabled a recommendation that the district move its operating accounts from Baldwin State Bank to Kansas State Bank. That decision came after two new board members, Huntoon of Baldwin State Bank, and Kruger of Kansas State Bank, recused themselves from the discussion.
Harris explained that the district had money at both banks and the MidAmerica Bank of Baldwin City and would continue that practice. Harris, whose wife is on the board of Baldwin State Bank, said the move was recommended because the more up-to-date technology at Kansas State Bank would allow the district to operate more efficiently.
However, Christie suggested the move be tabled until August because he said not all board members were informed of all the considerations behind the recommendation. He only learned of them by talking with district finance director Cynde Frick during a break at the meeting, he said.
Although he wasn’t part of the discussion on the issue, Huntoon addressed the matter during board member comments. Huntoon said he was surprised by the decision to table the change and said he and others at Baldwin State Bank understood the reasons for the move.
“I think Baldwin State Bank is in favor of moving the accounts to Kansas State Bank,” he said. “I, as a board member, would offer this is a move the district needs to make. If Cynde recommends the move as a way to make the district’s finances more efficient, I’m in favor of moving the accounts in the best interest of the district. Baldwin State Bank will continue to support the district. I don’t think there will be any hard feelings about the decision at Baldwin State Bank.”
In other business, the district:
• Heard from district facilities director Chuck James that the summer project to renovate the Baldwin Junior High School auditorium might not be finished by its Aug. 1 required substantial completion date.
Dorathy said he shared those concerns but was confident the contractor, Altmar Inc. of Topeka, would meet the schedule.
“They’ll put on more people if they need to,” Dorathy said. “They are very aware by Aug. 1 it has to be substantially completed.”
• Learned that the East Kansas Special Education Cooperative would rent offices in downtown Baldwin City instead of relocating to Vinland Elementary School. The co-op had to find a new home when the board agreed district offices would move from the old middle school across Chapel Street to the building the co-op now occupies.
The district offices will move after the co-op relocates to its new location in October, Dorathy said.