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Bond Issue - USD 348

So, I've been doing some reading and some thinking about this bond issue. Since I haven't been a Baldwin resident for all that long, I thought someone could maybe let me know the answer to a burning question:

Obviously, BES-IC isn't that old. Why, at the time of planning/building, wasn't space for the primary center included? It seems like it would have been significantly more efficient and less costly than building a whole new school. It's hard to believe that no one thought BES-PC was outdated and needed replacing and/or updating at that time. Anyone?

Also, I'm not sure that I find the thought of my teenager having to trek the GREAT distance between the junior high/highschool and Baker to use their facilities is that disturbing.

The USD 348 website is not clear, either. Why are the baseball and softball fields inadequate (of course, there is the $550,000.00 golf course the city bought three (count 'em) years ago and apparently, only now are trying to figure out what to use it for...perhaps allowing the school to lease it would be a possibility?)? In regards to larger classrooms, what precisely are "current standards"? Is it just that newer schools have bigger rooms so that is a "current standard"?

Also, as a totally non-pertinant issue :), no. 7 on the Primary Center's list of issues on USD348's page makes me laugh. Yes, I can see that the gym is outdated but I don't think that telling me to vote to raise my taxes because the stage is used by the nurse and for storage is particularly clever. I mean - the clear answer for that burning "issue" is to move the nurse and store the stuff somewhere else. Seems like there's a lot of space in the original school building?

Also, in the FAQ's section of the Bond page, does anyone else find the following remotely disparaging and/or ridiculous: "If we want to teach our students/community how to conduct themselves properly, they need a proper space." My children have been taught how to handle themselves in plenty of formal situations because they are being taught proper etiquette. I know it's old school, but it worked with me. Lastly, I know it may seem like I have a chip on my shoulder, but really - there is no need to worry about my ability to conduct myself in "...a proper space..." at "...formal functions and events..." since I am by definition the "community". I am fully capable of managing that without a new auditorium, thank you very much. Sigh.

Also, I'm glad that the district is now - seemingly suddenly - interested in maintaining the properties. That's great. I am puzzled as to why the answer to the question in the FAQ just tries to sell what they're doing now. There seems to be a historic track record of failing in the maintanance area and I would like to know why. And I would like to know why, based on said track record, they expect me to be all jazzed up about the present intentions.

Additionally, who do they expect to buy the building? What's going to happen to my home values if something commercial and/or disturbing moves in since I live pretty close by?

I'm not against this whole thing as I have three children who either are or will be attending school here (unless the utility prices and taxes manage to drive us away) and yes, I want them to have a stellar educational experience...and since we don't live in a voucher friendly state, USD 348 will have to do. What concerns me (all personal blabber and nitpicking above aside) is that my money be used wisely. Anything out of my pocket affects me and my family and the choices we are able to make for our lifestyle.

HipGrrrrl

September 4, 2008

Questions

Comments

bc 6 years, 3 months ago

Good questions, but why ask them on a forum of community members who probably have the same questions? The most you'll get on speak out is a battle of opinions, but you won't find all the facts. Bandito is right with taking the high utilities concerns to the city council, why not do the same and take questions about the bond issue to a board meeting or by just contacting the district as advertised right on the bond info page:

Questions? - Contact Us Paul Dorathy, Superintendent 785-594-2721 pdorathy@usd348.com

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Justask 6 years, 3 months ago

Call Paul Dorathy, superintendant, at 594-2721. He will happily provide you with the information you are seeking. Is he biased? Yeah, a tad. But he has to give you answers in a straight forward, informational way that won't include the sniping and backlash that happens on this site. (There's going to be a lot of that over the next two months. If you really want to make an informed choice on this decision, you will need to do the research yourself. It's too important to our children to leave the research to the anonymous writers of Speak Out. And yes, I get the irony, seeing how I am one myself!)

Or call Deb at the Primary Center (594-2444) and set up an appointment for a tour of the Primary Center. (I'm assuming you are able to climb stairs.) Just be sure to arrive at 8 a.m. so you can get a good view of the chaos.

Good luck. I hope you decide to support this issue.

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bc 6 years, 3 months ago

I think Mr. Dorathy knows the importance of getting the information out factually and doing so in a ethical manor.

I agree, everyone need to be self-educated and pro-active in this issue.

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mcgurk 6 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for taking the time to inform yourself on this important issue.

The thinking behind the IC was that we needed around 250-300 students per school for younger children. The community consensus was that we needed learning centers of that size for elementary students. The IC was built with a future PC in mind - right in the location that the new PC is planned. That is why the district purchased the acreage out west.

The long range plan of Baker University has the current site of the Primary Center and District Offices incorporated into its plan. So I would think they are a potential buyer.

I would also add that the Mr. Dorathy or Dr. Ehling-Gwin are great resources for information.

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oldman 6 years, 3 months ago

With the cost of gasoline up, food going up, water, natural gas up, and electricity the highest in the state (maybe highest in the U.S.A.) and just about everything you buy going up too. Add to that more and more people being laid off. This is not a good time to send our taxes up too. USD438 just need to bite the bullet and get by with what they have.

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bc 6 years, 3 months ago

oldman, In an attempt to keep it as factual as possible, I'll draw from the info in the usd 348 website:

"Q. Why is the school board addressing these improvements now with the current economic conditions? A. Several reasons. Interest rates for municipal bonds are near record lows, but heading upward. Putting off these improvements will cost taxpayers more in the long run. The school board is committed to sound economic practices and these improvements must happen at some point. In addition, under the current school finance formula, the State of Kansas will pay 27% of the principal and interest on the bonds. Plus, quality schools are paramount to keep and retain patrons in our district as they look to move closer to work due to rising gas prices.

Q. What are the likely consequences if the bond issue is defeated? A. Bonds for construction could not be sold, tax rates will not increase, and funds would not be available to address facility and educational deficiencies. Driven by a great deal of community input, the Board of Education is committed to solving the facility and educational concerns and would most likely seek another bond issue in early 2009. A delay in addressing these issues results in higher construction costs and possibly increasing interest rates."

To summarize, while economic conditions aren't ideal, you've got to consider that bond interest rates are very low right now. Secondly, tax payers won't see the first payment if the bond issue passes until nov 2009. So if we look at the scenario if the bond issue fails, a few percent increase on interest on 22.9 million is quite a bit of an increase in money that just goes towards interest, so in reality, if we wait, we're going to pay more as tax for the same amount of money. Additionally, while hard to predict, the economic conditions will be different in nov 2009 than they are now (personally, I'm optimistic they will improve since it is a major concern with this next election).

"Q. If the bond issue fails won't the district fix things like the roof of the Junior High anyway? A. That is true, the district will need to do repairs and renovations using capital outlay funds. The challenge is that items such as new busses, new technology, and furniture replacement will be placed on hold in order to begin to fit some of the items in the bond in the budget. There is not enough money in the capital outlay budget to make all of the renovations to the primary center. They would have to be done over a number of years."

All of those things that would be put on hold are items that directly affect our kids. Just something to think regarding your last comment.

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brandon 6 years, 3 months ago

hipgrrrl.. I had the exact same questions and asked the reps at the Ice Cream Social at the PC.

Why wasn't the IC made larger to accomadate the PC also? Basically it was a poor decision made by everyone when that was decided. Nobody wanted that large of a bond then. We are now paying for bad decisions being made in the past and we will continue to do this if they don't come up with proper solutions. When investing in something that big, they (board and public) shouldn't have been looking so much as "how much will it cost now", but "how will this suit our future needs and costs."

Because I wasn't here I cant say that the board didn't tell people when they built the IC that "hey, if we spend 50% more right now and build it bigger, we won't have to build another school in 5-10 years and raise taxes again." I hope this was said or at least brought up.

Think about the costs to operate and maintain the multitude of building they will now have as the price of fuel/commodoties goes up. Also, as you can see in the plans, they set the building back far enough to add another school in front if that time comes.

I have no problem with the school replacing the PC, but am absolutely against doing it half way like they did the IC. Let's make good decisions now, and not cut any corners so it doesn't come to bite us in the butt like it is right now.

-Do it right the first time, inspite of the cost, and it will be cheaper in the end.

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brandon 6 years, 3 months ago

About the baseball and softball fields. Just go to see them and then go look at Eudora and Wellsville. It's like comparing a sandlot to the K. With the great Rec programs and amount of teams this town has we need the infrastructure to support them. I lived in a town of 500 people and their fields make Baldwin's look like a sandlot.

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hipgrrrrl 6 years, 3 months ago

Reading other's thoughts and info has been a nice thing - educational and thought provoking. I have to say that the whole idea of so much of this being a "clean up" issue is aggravating - but I also understand that what was done was done and there remains a need for a solution.

I continue to be concerned about my property values in regards to closing the PC. Although I don't have info from Baker regarding their plans for future purchase of the PC property, it seems to me that a vacant school, unused playground, etc., etc. is not going to be good for any possible resale of my home - should we ever decide to move. Also, the thought of having an undesirable business in that location is not making me remotely comfortable. Of course, the ease in which I can get my child(ren) to school is a nice thing at this time and was one of the reasons we decided to buy our home (at the time, I didn't think to research possible changes to the location). This will certainly change should they move the PC...

So, if they left room for more school space at the IC, why are they building an entirely new school for the PC? Not only does it seem like it has to be more expensive, I'm sure I'm not the only parent who has children spaced far enough apart that I'll be dropping off/picking up at two to three different schools every day. That's a pain.

I guess I'm not in real favor of improving at the cost to the taxpayers if what we have works - even if it ain't pretty. Is it harder to play on a "sandlot" or is it just more enjoyable to spend time at a new and improved ball field? Does the skill of our players suffer because the fields aren't pretty and somewhat outdated based in our current expectations?

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SASHA 6 years, 3 months ago

My question is in line with hipgrrrl's. Why can't the new school be added onto the existing I.C. Can it be done and if not. Why? If it were an addition, wouldn't there be some savings on the administration end. I don't want to see people lose their jobs, but I'd hate to see substantial wasteful spending on a separate building, just to see those jobs retained. We do need a school, but it does need to be done right.

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Bloggerboo 6 years, 3 months ago

@hipgrrrrl - There is no more space to add on to the BESIC building. In order to accommodate all of the proposed programs going into the new PC, it would have to almost double. Certainly there is not the land space to double it. Nor was it designed for such a move.

As far as pick-up/drop-off problems, building the new building would put it closer to the BESIC than the old PC is now...so I don't understand your argument or concern there.

Finally, the difference between a "sandlot" and nice, new athletic facilities is the message it sends to our children/parents/fans/visitors. If you want to send the message that we don't care about athletics and the proper facilities to host them, feel free. For me, getting new ball-fields for less than $5 a week in added taxes is a STEAL. So, I guess it comes down to which message you prefer to send. But please don't ask silly questions like "Does the skill of our players suffer because the fields aren't pretty?" That is only incendiary. Regardless, I can tell you this...the academic skill of our students does suffer if their academic facilities are old and out-dated. So, let's fix all of these problems in one fell swoop, what do you say? Just $5 a week solves a lot of problems. After that, we have to hold the district accountable for further maintenance so they stay nice.

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Justask 6 years, 3 months ago

I invite everyone to take a look at the ballfields by the Primary Center. The field closest to the PC at 6th and Chapel isn't bad, although it takes a long time to dry and it's too close to the road. The field at 5th and Baker is in terrible condition. One of the dugout benches is practically in the drainage ditch and there's hardly any place to set up a lawn chair. I hate playing on those fields because I'm afraid some child is going to run into the road and get hit by a car. And there is very little parking for either field.

Partly because of these poor conditions, the Rec Department moved most of if not all of the 12 and under baseball, softball and t-ball games to the high school fields. Parking is better over there. But the fields are in terrible shape and take forever to dry out. For the spring 2008 baseball season, my son's games were compressed into about 10 days because of the condition of the ball fields after rain. Which means we played one or two games EVERY night. Other communities in the league were able to play on days Baldwin's teams could not because their fields have proper drainage.

To me, less than $5 a week is worth it.

Also, I don't blame you hipgrrrrl for worrying about the value of your house. However, I would also consider how much your house will be worth if the educational facilities in Baldwin are not repaired and allowed to continue to decline. Young families don't want to live places where the schools aren't adequate. They'll go to Wellsville or Edgerton or Lawrence. They certainly won't stay in Baldwin.

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hipgrrrrl 6 years, 3 months ago

It is clear that there are those who are absolutely for and those that (like me) are confused and/or ambiguous regarding the current plans and past decisions.

For the record, those ball fields will cost me more than $5.00 a week. Regardless of what amount anyone is going to have to pay, it's doubtful I'm alone in seeing the cost of these upgrades/improvements (necessary or not) eat into my grocery budget, my gas budget, the payments to my creditors and affecting my ability to turn my house from a rundown Victorian into something that's an asset to the community. My water is crazy high. My electric is crazy high. My gas is about to get crazy high.

I'm not against adequate facilities. I am against unnecessary upgrades. It is one thing if the fields aren't playable. It's another if their modernity and condition don't compare to the more wealthy communities of Johnson County and Lawrence. And, with all of this talk about the playing fields, It just occurred to me to ask: Are these fields to be used by the schools or by the BCRC? And if the community sees them as necessary due to the BCRC's use, why is their improvement on an educational bond issue?

And, regarding the pick up/drop off issue I mentioned before, that was really more a whine about the past decision to build an IC and leave Baldwin with a throw-away PC. Pointless as it's already been done :). I do like walking my kids to school, though. Probably should have bought that other house farther west, huh? That would have also negated my current concern about living so close to a abandoned school and school yard.

When we moved to Baldwin we talked to a lot of people about the quality of the teaching, the achievements of the students/teachers and the overall feel of how people felt about the education here. I am not against seeking and providing a stellar education for our children. I am against waste.

I don't want to live in a community that doesn't experience growth. I also don't want to live in a community that makes it impossible to justify the expense of enjoying said community.

Doesn't seem like there's much that's silly or incendiary about that.

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SASHA 6 years, 3 months ago

The main problem with the current ball fields is that they are located where the district wants to build. Otherwise all the current fields need are better drainage, good ball field dirt, and netting over the spectator area. The ball fields are secondary in this bond issue. If that land wasn't going to be built on they wouldn't need new ball fields.

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Bloggerboo 6 years, 3 months ago

@hipgrrrrl - Here's your quote: "I'm not against adequate facilities. I am against unnecessary upgrades. It is one thing if the fields aren't playable."

This isn't an unnecessary upgrade. Are you not reading the other posts? The fields ARE unplayable if there is ANY rain. Please go to the fields across from primary center and tell me those are anywhere near adequate for anything. They have zero parking, no restrooms, no concessions, and poor drainage. The ones at the high school are not big enough for real high school baseball/softball games, also have poor drainage and poor seating. On top of all that, it is only $5 a week, MAX, so stop saying it isn't. And that is only if your house is currently worth $200,000. Anything under that and it is cheaper.

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boredstiff 6 years, 3 months ago

Recommended distances for fences in High school baseball 310 ft -325 ft at the foul poles. 355-410 ft in center. 13-14 year old baseball 300 ft arch all the way around.

Baldwin dimensions left and right field foul poles 275 ft center field 285 ft. So the fields are actually to small for High School Baseball.

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hipgrrrrl 6 years, 3 months ago

You, Bloggerboo, are making me feel quite cranky - not to mention contrary. I didn't say that the fields were playable or unplayable. What I said was that I was against unnecessary upgrades. Period. At no time did I say that I thought the proposed fields were an unnecessary upgrade. I do wish you would stop ordering me around.

I didn't realize that the cut-off for the estimated average mill levy of 10.59 mills was set at an approximate property value of $213,500.00. That doesn't seem to be provided in the information on the USD 348 site.

Anyway, thanks to those who had nicely presented information for me and didn't feel the need to blugeon me with their certitude that this bond is mandatory. I have found their posts to be useful in my decision making process.

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Bloggerboo 6 years, 3 months ago

hipgrrrrl, you have been knocking and mocking this bond issue with your every post on here. But, you continue to want to make it look like you are just here to get information. Well, I see right through you. If you need me to point out the obvious, just say so, and I will happily quote you. Let others make their own decision, rather than posting disingenuous comments on Speakout. If you truly need information, just go get it. It isn't that hard to find. Others above have posted phone numbers and email addresses of just the right people to contact.

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sandman 6 years, 3 months ago

"5 dollars a week is a STEAL":.???

I will start by saying I'm not an expert on complex bond issues, however I can do simple math.

For the Distinct Privilege of living in Baldwin City, I currently pay $3,200.00 per year in Property Taxes, $1,300.00 dollars per year for Property Insurance, and $3,000.00 + per year on Utilities.

Keep in mind, I haven't Bought Food, Gas, Made a Mortgage Payment, Car Payment, and don't even mention the word Entertainment as this is now all but Non-Existent.

Let's not forget that Baldwin also has a large elderly population. Even $20.00 dollars a month can be devastating to households on a fixed income.

I can understand the need for upgraded or remodeled classroom facilities, but I fail to see how a new Auditorium or Ball Field will increase test scores.

My opinion for what it's worth is simply this::.ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We have to draw a line in the sand, and say this is it, we will make due with what we have. Debt, regardless of type is not a good thing. It's time to stop spending money like Drunk Congressmen. We are NOT the Government. We are however Citizens of Baldwin City, and we must be able to live within our already stretched budgets, or suffer more Foreclosures, and Bankruptcies.

A "STEAL" INDEED:::

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Bloggerboo 6 years, 3 months ago

"I can understand the need for upgraded or remodeled classroom facilities, but I fail to see how a new Auditorium or Ball Field will increase test scores." No, this is just where you fail.

If you can't understand that there is more to a public school education/experience than just test scores, you are only thinking about yourself and your pocketbook. I call that greedy when you would put $5 a week before kids and opportunities for them to excel. Not every kid is great at math, or science, or history. Some excel in theatre, art, or athletics. Why not provide "adequate" facilities for them too? What we have now is not adequate.

Also, I highly doubt $20 a month would be "devastating" to anyone's financial outlook. Plus, I think most of those to whom it would affect, are not the ones owning $200,000 homes. It is only those folks, at that range, that would pay the $5 a week. Everyone else is likely to pay closer to $3 a week...I mean come on, if you can't pry that wallet open for that...what are you willing to do for education? Anything? Anything at all? You do realize that the better our schools, the more people come to live here, and thus increase business here in town, right? You also realize that our test scores are already very good, so it isn't as if we haven't been making do for quite some time. But, the time has come to offer our kids more and better than simply "making do."

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baldwinfan 6 years, 3 months ago

I don't think that people new to the community should get a brand new school without paying for the new facilities. For example, if I've lived and payed for five years of this new facility (say 5X$240=$1,200). Why shouldn't someone new in the community have to pay 5 years worth of taxes so we've both payed the same for our children to attend the same school. They will be getting all of the benfits with very little costs.

Would it be possible to enact a tax on new houses built in Baldwin City to pay for improved facilities.

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sandman 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm sorry bloggerboo, but I believe we are going to have to agree to disagree. I have attended many Band and Choir performances at the Jr High auditorium, and found it to be very accommodating. Another option would be to hold such events at the Baker University auditorium. I am certainly not against pro-active planning, but I do have a problem spending the money of our children and grandchildren. This proposed bond should it pass, combined with existing and future municipal bonds which will start coming due in 2009 is debt that they will be paying for long after we are gone.
It seems to me that somewhere along the way, we as a society have lost our way financially. We now believe that we "deserve" to have it today, and worry about paying for it tomorrow. I think a good dose of grandma's logic is necessary here. For example, If I want to purchase a new car, I don't go into debt to do it. I wait and save until I can pay cash. If the School District had no debt or outstanding bonds, it would be different conversation. I believe they need to scale back the project, or wait until the current bonds are paid in full. Going into more debt is not the answer. The borrower is always slave to the lender. I certainly understand and respect the fact that you are very passionate about this issue bloggerboo. Like I said before, just giving my opinion.

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Torch 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm personally impressed that so many residents of Baldwin have money to throw around. I'm even more impressed that it's my money they wish to throw.

With the current economy we do not need more debt. Period. Cooper doesn't need a new concert hall. We'd do better to scrap the music program entirely. I love sports but the teams are going to have to suck it up. When you talk about going to other cities and seeing their facilities - they also have double or more the population of this town.

I can only hope that people don't let the same old tired arguments about 'the kids are our future' and 'think of the poor children' get in the way of common sense.

There are some things in this bond issue that need to be seriously considered and valid needs. But there is a LOT of pork.

Don't be fooled...this is NOT about your kids...it's about the staff of the school district and their desire to improve their working conditions. Your kids will be fine...but then you know that because you're their parents.

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Bloggerboo 6 years, 3 months ago

Torch, you are completely wrong on this. The staff was only partially involved in the Facilities Committee, many of them staying away knowing full well someone would see their views as biased. Also, the entire plan was based on a needs assessment done by a company, DLR, who has made these recommendations after surveying the community, listening to the Super and the Board, and hiring a demographer to determine our future growth, if any. This was in no way, shape, or form conducted by the staff.

But, heaven forbid if someone did want nice facilities in which to teach. And your comment about dropping the music program shows how ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY out of touch you are with real learning and educational opportunities for all. You just want to save a few bucks every month, and you'd let that come before students and education. Unbelievable.

Nothing in the project is pork, btw. They are all assessed needs. But, yes, not all of them are strictly academic in nature.

You also fail to mention every time you post on here that this money won't even be collected or assessed until Nov. 2009. And, we will mostly likely be in a completely different economic situation by then. Regardless, if we wait until then, or longer, we'll have to pay the same amount as now, only we'll get FEWER facilities for the same money. That makes no sense, and is simply ANOTHER anchor holding our students, teachers, and coaches back. Shame on you.

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reparmn37 6 years, 2 months ago

Come on people! Has everyone forgotten why we are here? Look at the issues.

1) We are a small town.

2) The district and Paul Dorathy, had to clean up a small problem with money issues from the past Superintendent. ( Was this a sign of coming attractions for Wall Street? ) Remember, this district was set up by past superintendents, give Mr. Dorathy a break, he is working with what he's got.

3) Yes, the Superintendent and the staff of older buildings want a better work area. To respond to Torch, the classrooms in the PC get very cold during the winter and right now they get very warm and stuffy. True, they want to make a better learning area for the kids and of course a better place to work. wouldn't you , if you worked there, want a space that is livable? Torch should know, if I remember correctly, torch works in a old building as well. Correct me if I am wrong. The PC uses window A/C units to cool some of the rooms, which are to small for such large rooms, others have a old A/C roof unit that keeps the local air conditioning company employed. Least of the problems are that the windows of the PC center leak and allow creepy crawly things into the classrooms, let alone cold and heat.

4) If the issue goes through, you can bet a dollar Baker will want the land cleared so that they can add more dorms or classrooms. It just makes sense. They do not want 50 year old buildings. If Baker buys the property, this would include the PC center, the District office, rainbow childcare, and the ball fields across the street. That would be all cleared out. Remember, this is my observations. I do not have a pipeline into district dealings, let alone Bakers' plans. The proper people can speak up to prove me wrong, and I would owe them a dollar.

5) It is a noble thing the district wants to do for Baldwin. We, as taxpayers must do what WE can to find out as much truth so WE can make an informed decision. The schools will serve our kids no matter what.

6) I am watching. All you bloggers on this site should be first in line to VOTE. We all can gripe now, but if I do not see you at the polls in November, kindly stop all complaining. Be proactive. Keep watching. Vote.

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