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Cocerned about spending!

I would like to compliment the city council with their decision to curtail spending in these hard times. It is much appreciated. I do have a concern with the School district with their apparent continued high spending and the possibliity of reduced state aid to the schools next year. I feel the board has no concern with the taxpayer burden. With the posssibility of reduced aid from the state will the school district again next year raise the tax burden to the local taxpayers? New schools are nice and, along with ball fields and new auditoriums but you really need to distinguish the difference between real need and would be nice to have. It would be nice if all concerned would tighten their belts a little during the hard times we are facing instead of spending more.

February 9, 2009

concerned about spending

Comments

Torch 5 years, 6 months ago

Nice post 501 but I'm afraid it's too late.

Many of us were vocally opposed to the bond issue but the leaders of the school mafia made dire predictions of the horrible things facing our poor chidrens and hood-winked the voters. Amy 'Vote Yes for Kids' Cleavinger led the charge.

Now - as expected - the economy is collapsing. People are losing their jobs. The cost of living is going up and the little game of "what's $20 a week?" is starting to look even more ignorant than when they were spewing it before the election. Hey - if it's 'only' $10 or $20 a week how come the city can't reduce my electric bill by that much? Because it adds up that's why.

But even more - what we still haven't heard a word about is why the district already drew $11 million of the bond money with nothing in place to begin working. I've been told that this money is sitting in local banks were it's drawing a meager rate of interest - below what the district is paying for having the money out....to the tune of up to $500,000 a year in interest.

Additionally, the big fat elephant in the room is the 'promised' State money that was so conveniently thrown in our face during the election. We haven't heard anything about that - probably because the budget isn't done. But nonetheless one would think the school board - or Mr. Dorathy at least - would publicly address the contingencies if that money doesn't show up.

The reason you don't hear about all of this is the fact that so many people in this town live in denial.

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oldschool 5 years, 6 months ago

The school district is having to look at cut-backs just like other businesses. Unfortunately, we are already committed to the bond project. We should get involved as a community and make sure we get something we can be proud of out of it.

Maybe you should go to the next school board meeting, Torch, (tonight at 6:30) and ask your questions there? According to one article printed in the Signal, the selling of the bonds locked in the promised state aid portion.

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Torch 5 years, 6 months ago

Nothing is locked in oldschool. But if that's the explanation I must have missed it.

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bc 5 years, 6 months ago

Torch, the other facts you missed are the district is locking in interests rates lower than what they projected to the public prior to us voting on the issue. Your rants about why they've sold bonds are meritless because you don't realize that us taxpayers will actually pay less over the life of the bond than what they projected. Even if there are a few extra months of interest vs. higher interest rates over many years, it's a no-brainer.

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Bloggerboo 5 years, 6 months ago

Torch, why do you feel the need to incessantly call out Mrs. Cleavinger? Do you have some sort of agenda, here? The woman has tried her best to help the city by serving as a public official and supporting the local school district to improve faciltiies, education, and extra-curricular activities for students, staff, and faculty.

Of course, you may not agree with her strategies or believe as she does about the best way to handle situations, but this constant name-dropping is ridiculous. It shows you are a mean-spirited, dejected, defeated, poor sport who can only boost yourself up by putting others down. I see no other reason whatsoever for constantly calling her out. She tried to help the city and its citizens, and this is the thanks she gets? It is no wonder she isn't running again for public office. And it is a shame, because she did a fine job.

You should work on improving yourself instead of denigrating others. Or how about this? Why don't you run for office and do your part instead of taking potshots from the fringe anonymously.

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NanCrisp 5 years, 6 months ago

As many have said here, done is done. I hope that quite a few voters will get a heads-up from this experience and think carefully about committing us as taxpayers to these types of expenditures in the future. It would have been most appropriate to send the School Board back to trim some pork out of this one. As oldschool stated, we can only press our elected officials to give us something cost-effective and something that may continue to be cost-effective in the future. I.E.- let's at least not make the same stupid mistakes we made with BESIC. That project was so short-sighted: Ensuring that we have to staff, equip and maintain not just one elementary school but two by designing a building that couldn't be added onto for future growth. Let's at least make sure our tax dollars are spent sanely. Too bad we're not adding onto BESIC right now, eliminating the old PC and consolidating staff, structures, equipment and utility costs.

Really, the thing we need to hope for (I hate to say it) is that the federal stimulus will include those dollars for building new schools that we keep hearing about. Hope it comes through; and hope our project can get in on the cash cow. I hate to say it, because it's still our tax dollars and our children's tax dollars and our children's children's tax dollars...

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NanCrisp 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, ironically, it looks like we'd have been better off to not commit ourselves to building the new school. Now the federal emphasis is going to be on renovating school buildings. Personally, I totally agree with that. Part of "going green" is "reuse," after all. But in the past, all the money has been for new construction with nothing for renovation. Now it's the reverse. Here's the latest from CNN on what the House and Senate agreed upon today. This bill is scheduled to be signed by President Obama on Monday. See cnn.com for the other major items in this bill.

from cnn.com: $6 billion to $9 billion for modernizing and repairing schools.

The funding for schools is intended to assuage House Democrats who are upset that the Senate cut $20 billion for school construction.

The emphasis on "modernizing and repairing" is meant to appease Senate centrists who believe that school "construction" takes too long and therefore won't stimulate the economy, and that state governments, not the federal government, should be responsible for building schools.

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sandman 5 years, 6 months ago

I voted against the school bond issue as well, and given the current state of the local and national economy, I am absolutely positive it was the correct choice.

In my opinion, the logic used to pass this bond was flawed. We were sold a bill of goods based on fear. Fear that if we didn’t build this new school, ball fields and auditorium now while interest rates were low, it would cost us much more to build the same square footage later on. Well SO WHAT!! How about this form of logic…..We can’t afford it because we still have outstanding debt, and until that debt is paid, we have to use what we have. Today’s society has forgotten that ancient word “NO”. We have to move past the “We deserve to have it right now no matter what” attitude.

Assuming they have already gone out and bonded all or part of the money, at least have the common sense to scale back the project. I would have much more respect for the board members if they were to admit it was a mistake to bite off such a large chunk of debt, and reevaluate the project.

Next year it will be State funding cut backs, and another round of mill levy increases to keep the busses rolling and the school lunch program afloat. I can’t understand why some people seem to just follow the heard and pretend that a national recession doesn’t affect Baldwin City. Take a good long look around folks…..Just yesterday Baker University had to lay off 23 employees. Our children and grandchildren will be dealing with the debt of our generation long after we are gone.

Just my opinion

SM

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Torch 5 years, 6 months ago

"Torch, the other facts you missed are the district is locking in interests rates lower than what they projected to the public prior to us voting on the issue. Your rants about why they've sold bonds are meritless because you don't realize that us taxpayers will actually pay less over the life of the bond than what they projected. Even if there are a few extra months of interest vs. higher interest rates over many years, it's a no-brainer."

Let's see the numbers. Publish them in the paper. Post them here on the web. If it's such a no-brainer why is it no discussion is made of it?

The school bond issue was a scam. It was never about the children and always about the egos of the USD 348 mafia. Like we really needed an auditorium for Cooper to use twice a year to bore us with the same crap we played in 1970. Many of us - as sandman states above - were not opposed to all aspects of the bond...but the problem was there was too much local pork thrown in.

You think I'm mean spirited? Fine. Perhaps it's because of life in Baldwin. I warned about the failing economy 8 months ago and was told to shut up then. Now we have layoffs from Baker...the state has no money for education...and we're stuck with a big problem.

Mark my words. When things settle out there are choices that will have to be made that will make this a very ugly experience indeed. There won't be enough money to do what the district planned. Something is going to get cut. What that is will make for some serious debate...but once again the citizens were sold a bill of goods without a plan.

Bloggerboo:

"Why don't you run for office and do your part instead of taking potshots from the fringe anonymously."

This is pretty lame...and usually the last resort for someone who has no argument. I am fully entitled to an opinion without being in office. There is a term for what you describe - it's called dictatorship. I have a right to express myself without running or holding any office. Where did you take political science? Baldwin perhaps?

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Torch 5 years, 6 months ago

P.S. Bloggerboo - you have no idea who I am and how much I've done to improve both the city and the school district. In fact...I would confidently wager that I've done more to positively impact the children of Baldwin than you have. I'm quite certain of that.

One doesn't have to be elected to make a difference.

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Bloggerboo 5 years, 6 months ago

Fine, have your opinion, Torch. No one is saying you should be talking. However, why crap all over a person EVERY TIME YOU POST? People have feelings, you know.

And I am so happy to know you have done more than me. Since, you have no idea who I am, I can say the exact same thing and it is just as meaningless. You need to grow up.

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collaborator 5 years, 6 months ago

No matter how you voted or felt about last fall's bond election, you need to be very concerned about the cuts the KS legislature is making to public education now.

The cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year look to be around $32 million. See link: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/feb/12/kansas-house-passes-deficit-reduction-legislation/?breaking

That's the tip of the iceberg. Cuts for the next fiscal year (2009-10) to public education are projected to be anywhere from 8-18% of each district's budget. Personnel salaries eat up 70% or more of most districts' budgets, so you are looking at significant teacher/staff layoffs all over the state, and in Baldwin.

Most troubling from the above-cited article are these quotes:

"Sebelius and many fellow Democrats argue that cuts will be difficult for Kansas' 295 school districts to absorb. A few have predicted some districts will have to borrow money to finish the school year, then impose special property taxes to pay off the debt.

'This bill bankrupts many school districts,' said Rep. Ann Mah, a Topeka Democrat."

"A dozen districts have no cash reserves, according to the state Department of Education."

Is Baldwin one of those dozen districts with no cash reserves??? Other LJW articles have hinted as much . . .

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NanCrisp 5 years, 6 months ago

If we weren't on the hook for new facilities, we could have a bond election like Lawrence did last year to pitch in new tax money toward retaining good teachers.

At the state level, I think the cuts are appropriate. If you've been following the news lately, people everywhere are pleading the cases of their pet projects and favorite publicly-funded programs. Reality is, something has to be cut. We can't be like kids asking for the whole ball of wax. We have to be like parents (um, let's just say, adults) who know the budget and know when something's got to give. Everyone is going to have to see some sacrifice in all of this. It's definitely going to touch each life, and no one and nothing should be "held harmless." For example, if we decide that the least disabled 2% have to lose disability benefits, then we should be equally ready to say that the least effective 2% in education also have to lose out.

There is pork in every program, no matter how much the proponents think they can justify what they're spending. One thing we could do in USD 348 is consolidate administration of our split elementary PC & IC. We already have just one principal for both Marion Springs and Vinland now. There are less than 500 kids total in BESIC/PC. One administrator can handle that. As companies around the world are saying, "These reductions can be handled through retirements and elimination of unfilled positions."

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baldwinfan 5 years, 6 months ago

If Kansas has just announced they're delaying tax return refunds how likely are they to not pay their cost share for this bond?

Nancrisp - I like your idea of combining administrators for the PC & IC. Anyone know if there Is there a reason that cannot happen?

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RobC 5 years, 6 months ago

Torch, you are absolutely gutless. If you have done so much for the city and our community, why don't come out from behind the curtain. However, I see you like to hide and ridicule others.....very brave. It is also a shame this newspaper promotes this kind of forum for people to be publicly criticized by anonymous gutless individuals.

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kermit 5 years, 5 months ago

Let's get back to the subject at hand. Is there anyone out there who voted for this bond issue and now is regretting that vote?

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501gdm2 5 years, 3 months ago

This a response to Kermit: It's my understanding a large organization in Baldwin wanted the ground where the primary center sits on. It's my understanding that this organization had a assembly and asked all eligible voters to vote for the bond issue so this ground would become available. The problem is, all these voters do not own real estate in Baldwin and will be gone within 4 to 5 years and leave the burden of paying for the school to the taxpayers. This is a sad way of getting a new school and you would think the school board and the supt. knew of this.

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