andeparks

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Lies and the Lying Liar School Board Members that Tell Them

I try not to get into debates with anonymous message board posters. Since this post calls me out specifically, though, I will attempt to make my record clear on this issue.

During the bond process, I said that the bond and the long range plan that went with it represented a commitment to the rural schools. That was true. I also said, at every opportunity, that if the state cut the district by a million dollars, everything had to be on the table. Not all quotes make the paper.

Now, a few years later, the bond has passed and the state has indeed cut the district more than a million dollars.

My children attended the Marion Springs four year old program. I know that the rural schools do a great job. I know what a special atmosphere we have in those buildings. I have not supported closing any building in the past. I did not support closing one in May, when there was a lot of pressure to do so. When the state surprised us all by holding the district budget flat by raising the sales tax, I was not willing to fire teachers and increase class sizes. I was very public about my reasoning, and I took a lot of heat for it.

Now that we know more about the future of state revenues and the district's financial prospects, I think we have to consider all options, including close buildings. It's not what I would like to do. It's not ideal. As I said at our last meeting, I have real concerns about class space in our in-town buildings. We are past the point, though, of doing only things that are ideal. We have made a lot of sacrifices, in staff and in programs. I'm not sure we can cut any more without looking at the option of closing facilities.

I have not made up my mind on this. We have a process in place. I encourage all concerned patrons to go the usd348.com or contact the district office to find out meeting times. I plan on listening to and considering a lot of public input in the upcoming months as we decide how to move forward. None of this is easy. There are no perfect solutions to the financial problems we face. I can only do what I have always tried to do as a board member: cast the vote that I honestly believe is best for the overall educational experience of the children in our district.

If you want to call me a liar, question my commitment to the education of the children of USD #348, or just ask me a question about where I stand, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail. Harder, maybe, than posting anonymous attacks online, but more rewarding if you're genuinely interested in these issues.

Ande Parks
Board Member, USD #348
aparks@usd348.com
594-3292

September 27, 2010 at 5:32 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Baldwin School Board bites budget bullet

greyghost,

That is a cheap shot and a faulty assumption. First, the entire activities (not just athletics) budget is under $300,000. Second, cuts in that activities budget are indeed part of the plan we have put forward to handle the current budget situation. The district office should be able to show you that list. I don't believe it's on our web site yet... it should be shortly. Not all of it was made public because of the personnel issues, but much of it was.

I was hesitant to post in this thread because I cannot get into the personnel decisions in any way here. I can only say that Monday's meeting was my worst in five years as a board member, that none of this is ideal or fun in any way, and that all I can do is cast the votes I honestly believe are best for the district.

Best
Ande Parks

April 29, 2009 at 9:45 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

District eyes $885K in budget cuts for 2009-2010 school year

Thanks to all of you who already stepped up with some figures on the potential savings of closing one or both rural schools. I'm probably wasting my time with Torch, as I think this is at least the third time I have corrected him or her on this, but for the rest of you:

One of the first jobs on the facility committee's plate was to determine what we needed to build. To do that, we had to figure out a long-term vision for the number of schools being operated by the district. So, DLR put together some figures on savings associated with closing the outlaying schools. Assuming we wanted to keep similar class sizes, those figures were:
Savings of about $136,000 in closing Vinland
Savings of about $163,000 in closing Marion Springs
Total of about $299,000 annually in closing both schools
That figure reperesents 1.9% of the district's operational budget

What's vital to understand (as someone above pointed out) is that those kids would have to be absorbed into the infrastructure of the Baldwin schools. Those schools, particularly the PC, would struggle mightily to absorb that many kids. More money would have to be spent on some kind of facilities to house the extra students.

Given those factors, combined with the enviroment and performance of the outlaying schools, the committee felt the potential savings did not justify any closures. We then proceeded with a plan to address the district's needs, including a new PC that would house all of the district's pre-K programs, as well as the students currently being housed at the existing PC. That building would not be built to house the kids from Vinland and Marion Springs.

As I've said here before, the facilities committee spent many months studying these issues. It was a complex and daunting process, and I think the committee did an excellent job with it.

Finally, I should say that, if the state follows through with the worst case funding cuts that we have heard about, everything will be on the table. If they cut a million dollars from our budget next year, we won't have any choice but to look at some extreme options. Let's hope we never have to face that reality, but we are trying to be prepared, just in case.

Best,
Ande Parks
Board Member, USD #348
594 3292

March 2, 2009 at 1:48 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

City council, school district discuss streets to new BESPC

I really disagree with the accusations that the ball fields will be inadequate or too cramped. I have seen the plans and, while there are challenges (as there would be with almost any piece of land), the fields will be very nice. I wish we could build twice as many. I wish we could build all of them for tournament use. I also wish we could build an auditorium that would be big enough for single performances and graduations. But, after a year or so considering all the options, we had to move forward with something we thought our community could support and afford. The whole process is about compromising, and I think the facilities committee did a wonderful job sifting through the possibilities and emerging with a plan that fits our current and long-range needs.

As for parking at the ball fields, I believe it will be fine. You could probably always use more, but again... hard choices had to be made. We will have the IC parking, parking along both Bullpup and Elm (extended to the West), as well as parking at the new PC (one block away).

Best,
Ande

February 22, 2009 at 11:43 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

City council, school district discuss streets to new BESPC

I believe the article from a year ago is discussing connecting Elm from Bullpup WEST to Lawrence Ave.. We are all in agreement there. What concerns me is the possibility of the city asking us to connect Bullpup to Elm to the EAST, and even improving Elm all the way to 11th.

We're discussing the needs of both the city and the district, and those talks are ongoing. I went to the council yesterday simply to ask that they not require the extension and improvement of Elm to the East until a traffic study dictates that it is truly needed.

Ande Parks
Board Member- USD 348
594 3292

February 20, 2009 at 2:45 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Baldwin School District voters give nod to bond issue

If any patron in our district feels that there is an issue with bullying in our schools that is not being addressed by our extensive policy on the matter, I would hope that they follow up with district personnel, right up to the superintendent and the board.

I know this issue is a top priority for everyone in the district. If you know of an issue that is not being resolved, go the building administrator. If you're not satisfied there, go to the superintendent. If you're not satisfied there, go to a board member or come to a meeting and speak to all of us. I don't recall ever getting a call or hearing from a patron in open session on the issue of bullying. If we have problems there- policy that needs to be addressed, or policy that is not being followed- I would like to hear about it.

I don't want anyone to think that, because someone throws out allegations in this forum, that there are rampant problems in our schools that are not being addressed because we simply don't care. We have people who do care in this district, at every level. If you know of a problem, speaking about it here is certainly an option. I hope, though, that speaking here doesn't take the place of coming to district personnel and board members, so we can work on it directly. We can't do much with generic allegations. We can do a lot with genuine concern and specific information.

Back to the issue originally at hand- we will be hearing from our architect at our next meeting. I would encourage anyone interested in what happens next to attend. We meet at the district office Monday evening, at 7pm. I believe the architect and financial advisor will speak at the beginning of the meeting.

Best,
Ande

November 8, 2008 at 3:08 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Baldwin School District voters give nod to bond issue

There are no concrete (no pun intended) plans for the new school or auditorium yet. The architect gave us general ideas about size, facilities to be included, and placement on the property. You can see those drawings at the district office. The specifics, though, are still to be nailed down. Now the process of gathering input from staff and patrons begins, and we’ll start looking at plans. Our construction manager will work closely with the architect to eliminate waste and maximize our value. We will also be working on the safe room grant, and (hopefully, pending grant approval) getting those improvements into the plans.

Thanks to everyone in the community for your passion and time. I’m thrilled that the bond passed, but I have respect for those of you who didn’t feel you could support it. Now, I’d like to think that we can all pull together to make the path our neighbors have chosen work for our children, our staff, and our entire community. I see from some of the comments here that we’re going to have less than unanimous support there, but we will get it done.

Thanks again,
Ande Parks
Board Member- USD #348
594 3292

November 5, 2008 at 9:07 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letters to the Editor

For the record, our architect tells us we can expect about 5% of the bond cost to be spent in our local economy. So, this bond would bring about a million dollars into Baldwin. That is just money directly associated with the construction: gas, meals, lodging, goods, etc. The estimate is that, once spent here, those dollars get re-spent in town about seven times.

Given the fact that we would be locking in low rates now, not paying any tax on the bond until a year from now, providing work for our local contractors, and bringing an infusion of cash into town during construction, I believe there are a lot of benefits to acting now.

Ande

October 31, 2008 at 11:54 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letters to the Editor

I just wanted to check in and thank my friend Toby for correcting some misconceptions from the letters. Toby said it very well, but I’ll reiterate: this bond is a commitment to the country schools, we thought long and hard about renovating the Primary Center before deciding it wasn't the way to go and, while we do have a long range plan, we have no plans to propose the next phase of our plan on any given timetable. I'm disappointed that Gretchen believes there is a specific timetable in mind, because I spoke to her about that very issue, and I feel I didn't do my job well enough as I tried to explain that fact.

While I'm here, I would like to address one other rumor I've heard around town. If we pass the bond next Tuesday, we will be able to lock in historically low interest rates on our twenty year bond. Once locked in, that rate will not change. It cannot change unless we decide to refinance the bond, something we would clearly only do if it resulted in a savings for the district.

Sincerely,
Ande Parks
Board Member- USD #348
549-3292

October 30, 2008 at 7:02 p.m. ( | suggest removal )