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Consolidation

Due to the State of Kansas shortfalls, area newspapers have recently written articles regarding area school district consolidation. One of the possible school district consolidations discussed was that of the Baldwin School District and the Wellsville Scholl District. What are your thoughts on these two school districts combining?

March 2, 2010

Consolidation

Comments

Peabody 4 years, 6 months ago

Kyle,

Thanks for bringing this issue up on SpeakOut. I think it is vitally important to the future of public education throughout the state.

We need to have a full discussion on the short-term and long-term implications of these consolidation proposals. I look forward to reading the thoughts of SpeakOut posters on this topic.

Tony Brown 10th District Representative Baldwin City

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jmyrick 4 years, 6 months ago

Amen on discussion. This is early on in the process. Nothing has happened. Let's talk.

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greyghost 4 years, 6 months ago

Sorry, but Wellsville is poor. Can't we be adopted by someone with more money? Like Gardner, maybe?

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TheOnlyGreyghost 4 years, 6 months ago

My first thought is that combining school districts in adjacent counties would create more problems than it would solve, in terms of funding burdens, millage increases (citizens of one county vote "yes," the others vote "no"--does this shift the burden to taxpayers from the "yes" county, which will then carry the "no" county?), board elections and power distribution, etc.

Is either district going to save money when students are being bused from (e.g.) the northern- and western-most edges of the Baldwin district to the Wellsville HS? Or vice versa, if it's the Baldwin jr high and HS that win out? And how long will those kids be on a bus every day?

And--IMO, which I realize is quaint--a more important consideration than money is: are students who sit on a diesel-fume-spewing bus for over an hour each way from the hinterlands of one county into the midst of the next one going to gain anything educationally?

These are just my first thoughts--perhaps this has been done successfully and there is a brilliant blueprint out there for making this work.

The only consolidations that I am personally aware of are ones like Gardner/Edgerton, which combined districts within the same county and in a smaller geographical area, so my knowledge on the subject is admittedly limited. For those who know more about this (Tony?), does this--can this--work when the districts include sprawling countryside and not only different cities but different counties?

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Peabody 4 years, 6 months ago

OnlyGG,

My framing of this consolidation issue in my Signal column was not very clear.

It is unlikely that the Wellsville and Baldwin City school districts would be combined for the reasons you identify. Baldwin City might be combined with the Eudora or Lawrence school districts, and Wellsville might be combined with the Ottawa district.

And let me re-emphasize that this is only speculative -- the proposal is only being discussed at the current time. That's why I am interested in getting feedback from patrons in these communities.

Tony

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Julie Craig 4 years, 6 months ago

I can see consolidating schools that are declining in enrollment and not thriving. Baldwin does not fit this category. Leave us alone. It is important for small towns to have their own schools.

I liked the article in the Lawrence Journal-World about consolidating Congressional Districts in order to cut the number of legislators and their salaries......

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TheOnlyGreyghost 4 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the clarification, Tony. I just read this blog as a "what if" scenario involving these two specific districts. (Kudos on opening a lively topic, KTrendel! Sorry if my interpretation was too literal.)

As you say, T, if it did come to the point of looking at consolidation, combining Wellsville with Ottawa or Baldwin with Eudora would be more likely--although, for reasons Gazoo notes, I doubt it will come to that. And, again, there is the matter of geography.

Trying to combine Baldwin with Eudora or with Lawrence would mean a lot of busing--and even the tightwads who think schools should be operating on 1980s budgets would probably balk at that and agree to meeting the budget challenge with increased taxes rather than consolidation.

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NanCrisp 4 years, 6 months ago

Consolidation does not necessarily entail closing school buildings, especially high schools. Lawrence has two high schools, and the K.C. districts each have several. The benefits of consolidation would come in the decrease of administrative staff at the district level: One superintendent, for example, instead of two. Additionally, the resulting larger district could theoretically negotiate better deals on health insurance, textbook and other material purchases, etc.

The only way I could see Lawrence having any interest in consolidating with Baldwin is if some kids going to Baldwin-based elementary schools would be reassigned to Wakarusa Valley School, thereby "saving" one of the schools currently on the USD 497 chopping block. Merging school districts, just like merging businesses, requires examination of what each is bringing to the table. Baldwin hasn't much to offer Lawrence other than redistribution of students in such a way that would benefit USD 497.

Consolidation with Eudora might be interesting.

Consolidation with Wellsville would be more tricky, but consolidating across county lines is probably not unprecedented and probably will be coming soon in the western and southeastern regions of our state. Interestingly, if such considerations were to happen in the absence of the currently-under-construction primary center, consolidation with Wellsville could have been a real win-win. A new consolidated high school could have been built, addressing Wellsville's obvious need for a better-equipped high school building while allowing Baldwin to move its middle schoolers into the current BHS building, upper elementary into the current BJHS building, and primary students into the current BESIC. The project probably would have cost Baldwin taxpayers the same or less money than the projects currently underway and would have resulted in better facilities all the way around. Except that they wouldn't have been on the west side of Baldwin, or even in the city limits. Better for the taxpayers, but not so great for certain development-oriented folks.

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greyghost 4 years, 6 months ago

It is quite common for school districts to overlap into different counties, e.g., http://www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1860

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Peabody 4 years, 6 months ago

This is a link to the district boundaries for the Kansas State Board of Education. That's not the same thing as local school districts.

A listing I consulted of Kansas unified school districts did not indicate that any of them were in multiple counties.

Tony

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greyghost 4 years, 6 months ago

Okay. What about this: http://www.ksde.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=owdG3qwdgA4%3d&tabid=1860&mid=6347 ? I had to zoom in to 100% to get a good feel for the district boundaries. This is just for State Board of Education? If not, it seems as though county-jumping school districts are fairly common.
Is there anyway for you to link us to where you got your information, Tony?

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The_Great_Gadfly 4 years, 5 months ago

Would Baldwin benefit from consolidating its elementary schools, instead of consolidating with another district? Can anyone see the forest for the trees?

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Peabody 4 years, 5 months ago

Just to clear up the multiple county consolidation issue, I checked with the Department of Education on Friday and they indicated that multi-county school districts are present out in the western part of the state.

There is no statute that prohibits consolidation across county lines, so it is possible that the Baldwin City and Wellsville school districts could be forced to consolidate if the state were to choose that option. I believe this would be an extreme step to take, but these are the types of decisions we are discussing due to the current fiscal crisis.

Tony

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The_Great_Gadfly 4 years, 5 months ago

Should the USD 348 Board of Education let the State decide how to solve its fiscal problems or solve them on its own?

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indasky 4 years, 5 months ago

WHY WERE THERE 5 POLICE CARS A STATE TROOPER AND AN AMBULANCE AT THE INTERMEDIATE CENTER AT 3:15PM ON 3/10???? WAS THE SCHOOL ON LOCKDOWN?

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