Archive for Thursday, June 20, 2013

Baldwin USD 348 district offices to move

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

June 20, 2013

The Baldwin school board agreed Monday that district offices should move across Chapel Street from the old middle school building to a much smaller building now occupied by the East Kansas Special Education Cooperative.

The move was one of several budget-tightening measures the board considered as they prepared to craft a 2013-14 budget with no increase in state per-pupil funding.

Cynde Frick, district financial director, said the move would save the district $10,000 a year in utility costs. However, it was also noted the move would cost the district an equal amount to provide fiber optic cable to the new offices.

Space in the closed Vinland Elementary School has been offered to the special education co-op.

The move’s first-year break-even figure didn’t deter board members from supporting the proposal. Board members Chad Christie and Ande Parks noted state revenue to the district was unlikely to improve in the coming years, so the sooner the district made the move, the sooner it could start realizing savings.

Superintendent Paul Dorathy said the $10,000 savings was a conservative estimate and the district could save more. The district has had discussions with the city and other public entities about leasing space in the old middle school building, which could improve the revenue picture, he said. The school is also listed for sale.

The anticipated saving on utilities included those from vacating the south gym immediately to the west of the district office. The gym was used for junior high and high school wrestling and high school cheerleading practices, which will be moved next school year to the remodeled Baldwin Junior High School auditorium. The gym currently is used for Baldwin City Recreation Commission activities.

That would leave the south gym in the same situation as the closed Vinland Elementary School, another former school building that remained a popular recreational facility.

Frick said utilities at Vinland Elementary School have cost the district $10,000 so far in 2013. That was primarily for electricity during the winter months when different groups used the school’s gym for recreation, she said. To control the cost, the board could charge a user fee or close the gym, she said.

However, board member Sandy Chapman said those using the gym were doing so in accordance with the district’s facilities use policy. She and other board members weren’t comfortable with making an exception to the use policy for a single building and expressed a desire to keep the building open for the Vinland community.

They agreed a separate policy could be established for vacant buildings, which now included the south gym. They agreed to table the discussion until the board’s July meeting.

The board also saved $16,000 by dropping a supplemental student-insurance policy. Frick said the policy, which was meant to supplement insurance families have for their children, was tapped by 15 to 20 families a year but never paid out as much as the premium.

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