Archive for Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baldwin City school board votes to close Vinland, Marion Springs schools

December 14, 2010


— After months of discussion and public input, the USD 348 Board of Education voted Monday night to close two rural elementary schools at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

The proposal to close Marion Springs Elementary School and Vinland Elementary School passed by a 5-2 vote. Board Members Blaine Cone and Ruth Barkley opposed the motion.

“We can’t keep doing the same things with less,” School Board President Alison Bauer said. “We’ve been continually cut from the state and we’ve made cuts everywhere, but we can’t keep doing that. I feel like (Superintendent) Mr. (Paul) Dorathy made a difficult and painful recommendation to us. We’ve looked at other options and none of them were attractive.”

Marion Springs and Vinland combine to house 139 students this school year. Those students will be attending Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center and Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center during the 2011-12 school year.

The estimated cost savings of the elementary consolidation is $420,678 and most of that is personnel cuts. Starting next fall, all elementary students in USD 348 will be attending BESPC and BESIC, which are the two newest buildings in the district.


friendlyjhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Difficult decision because of parental emotions involved but definitely time to this.

Sherry Warren 7 years, 4 months ago

What a shame. "Those students will be attending Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center and Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center during the 2011-12 school year."

except those that decide to homeschool, go to private school, or can weasel their way into Lawrence, Eudora, Overbrook, or Wellsville schools.

We loved Vinland Elementary, then left Baldwin Middle School as soon as we could... unpleasant place. Reading teacher couldn't spell or explain what the curriculum entailed, food was dreadful, community not welcoming unless you already knew "the right people". I tried to be a parent volunteer but no one would ever call me for the committees I signed up for.

Not a decision I would have made, and I am glad I was not in the position to have to . Maybe they can now focus on the other Baldwin schools and make them better. They need to.

Hey LJW, can you rustle up some stats on how many Baldwin kids go to school outside of Baldwin's district? I know a number of families whose kids go elsewhere for a number of reasons - cliques, bullying, and low academic standards at the schools to name a few.

Khublai_Juan 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm sorry for your experience with Baldwin, but as a former student I do not believe the school system is nearly as bad as you say. I have also attended schools in Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida, and I can say that the schools in Baldwin were better and more stringent than any of those places. There should be some changes as far as personnel and a more challenging curriculum but overall it was not bad, and I believe these problems are more endemic to schools throughout the state then focused locally in Baldwin. The schools were academically strong enough to prepare me to succeed at the University of Kansas.

In my own experience, there were just as many students transferring into Baldwin from places like Lawrence as there were students transferring out. Also, I never met anyone that believed that the Overbrook (Santa Fe Trail), Wellsville, or Eudora schools were better or more inviting than Baldwin. At least Baldwin has Baker University, which helps diversify the town.

friendlyjhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

And, LJW, could you rustle up some stats on how many Lawrence kids go to school outside the district? How about the Tongie, P-L, Lecompton, Bashor-Linwood and any other schools in the area? Let's bash them too for their bullying, bad teachers and lax parenting. We are a country of the "it's not me, it's everyone else that is wrong" syndrome. And if you don't, I will just publicly and anonymously complain that "no one" would ever call me back.

Sherry Warren 7 years, 4 months ago

I'd love to see all of these stats, and I know they are out there since they get in the paper near the beginning of the school year.

Friendly, because you don't know who I am, is my experience less valid? I hardly think I qualify as blaming everyone else. We tried really hard and met wall after wall. The Special Ed division was terribly understaffed and did what they could, but my kid still felt like if you weren't the bottom of the barrel or barely getting by, you didn't matter. Being ahead of the curve was a disadvantage at Baldwin Middle school. Being average was good enough.

What would you have me do when I sign up for committees who are supposed to call me when they need help? Badger them? I tried that too. Hung around at school trying to meet people and make friendships. Nuthin. Attended school events... nuthin. Went to PTO - nuthin. Vinland wasn't like that. People were welcomed in and allowed to help. Grew up in a small town that was just the same: Be exactly like us or just go away. So we did.

friendlyjhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Chucklehead, because you don't know who I am, is my experience/opinion less valid? If you wanted to be involved, you would have found a way to become involved. That's what adults do. Perhaps you only had "your" agenda and didn't listen to others. As for hanging around the school trying to meet people? Creepy.

Sherry Warren 7 years, 4 months ago

Yep - my agenda was being an involved parent and getting the best education I could for my kid.

And I found a way to get involved. I took my kid somewhere where we were wanted and I can stop by and talk to teachers and administrators during the day, or drop in and have lunch. They know my kid's name as well as mine. Yeah - I am soooooo creepy. I never said your opinion wasn't valid. You never really expressed one other than to rail on my personal experience and to say that parents' emotions make this a difficult decision. You didn't even typed your first sentence in completely so I am not sure what your point was.

And I am done. Complain all you want. I am turning off comments so I no longer get sucked in to "conversations" with people who have no respect for others. Our Vinland experience was great, our Baldwin experience was not. I am sad to see Vinland Elementary go. It is a special place where all kids matter and families are important.

farmgal 7 years, 4 months ago

chucklehead, what you are saying makes sense to me. baldwin has kept some pretty bad teachers over the years. i used to work there, so i saw it every day.

also had a family member who used to teach at vinland high school, many years ago.

independant1 7 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, in my experience as student and parent, the small schools offer something the consolidated/large schools lack.

baldwinista 7 years, 4 months ago

"After months of discussion and public input" was an interesting way to open the story. I have been advised by high-ranking members of the district that this decision was made before the first hearing was ever set. It was merely a case of having to go through the formalities. Having said that, I suppose we should give the superintendent the benefit of the doubt. If it was, in fact, the only choice available to keep the district from going under, I suppose it had to happen. Of course, I remain puzzled why the construction of new sports fields and a duplicative auditorium at the junior high/high school complex, the latter still under construction, were deemed more important. But, hey, that's just my opinion.

I've also been advised by these folks, that in another 2-3 years, the district plans to float bonds for the construction of a new school, claiming it is needed due to overcrowding. Hopefully, these are just unsubstantiated rumors. If they are not, if anyone on the board happens to stumble across this post, please be advised that the opposition to such a plan would be aggressive and well-organized.

We have always considered ourselves as part of the greater Baldwin community. We, like most rural residents, have tried to do most of our shopping in town and contributed our time and money to local charities and activities. I have seen documents demonstrating that the financial contribution to the school district, via property taxes, of those who live in the rural areas whose schools have been closed, is proportionately greater than that of those who live within the city limits. Of course, the ability to vote is not based on land ownership, and as a result, our interests have been sorely underrepresented by the school board.

I would suggest that, just to remind the board and the city that the street must run both ways, those of us who live outside the city limits should keep in mind that the new 59 makes the trip to Lawrence and/or Ottawa just about as easy as driving to Baldwin. We can do our shopping in those places. Perhaps the adverse financial effect on Baldwin City might persuade town residents to take a more expansive and inclusive view.

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