Sunday, November 2, 2014

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE

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Paul’s Rant
There seemed to be some confusion with the football schedules in Raytown last week.  Someone scheduled both Raytown and Raytown South games at home.  

There was a problem, however.  Raytown only has one football field.  That meant there were two games played on the same field on the same night.  What a horrible situation!  How inconvenient for all involved.

Never fear.  The School District has solved the problem.  They will spend 2.9 million dollars and put in a football field at Raytown South.  We all know the boys will be smarter after they play on their own field.  Perhaps it will raise the sagging test scores.

You see, in the Raytown Quality Schools, the overall test scores went from 119 points out of 140 (85%) last year to 100.5 out of 140 (71.8%) this year.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the annual report released by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
  
From where I’m sitting, almost $3,000,000 will buy a lot of books and hire a lot of remedial teachers.  Starting salaries in Raytown schools for new teachers with no experience is about $35,000 a year.

If the School District bought 1,000 books at $30 a pop and hired teachers for each elementary school, they would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $775,000 per year.  The money wasted on a football field would fund teachers and books to raise the test scores for almost four years.


Greg’s Rant
TO THE READERS: Paul had much to say this week about the path chosen by the Raytown School District. Thought I would add my two cents worth.

There has been much hand-wringing and blame-placing in attempts to explain away why test scores of Raytown School District children have joined the lower echelon of area Kansas City School Districts. This  latest move by the School District is not because of a lack of money. It is because of a lack of leadership.

Children don’t go to school to play sports.  They go to school to learn.  That’s why sports are called extra-curricular activities. Someone has their priorities in the wrong order.

Who scheduled two high school football games at the same stadium on one night? If that is the problem, find the idiot and discipline him or her. Do not throw away 2.9 million dollars on a new football stadium less than two miles from one already available and pretend a problem has been solved.

High school sports are important for developing character and the value of teamwork to students. However, the adults in the room have a responsibility to keep focused on the real purpose of high school . . . to prepare our young to take the next step in joining and becoming productive members of society. 

From this writer's point of view, there is another purpose to the building of the stadium. As Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes fame once said, "if it looks like a duck, it quacks like duck, and it walks like a duck, it probably is a duck".

Sad to say, but this 2.7 million dollar boondoggle looks more like resume' building than any real concern for the district or its patrons.

Ignoring the greater goal of our schools and throwing money around recklessly is a step down a very slippery slope. What is worse, it gives a very bad example for our young to follow.

The School District should reverse this nonsensical decision to waste 2.9 million dollars of the taxpayer’s money.

Charter Commission News
The Raytown Charter Commission took historic steps at its last meeting when it set the number of signatures required to implement Initiative, Referendum and Recall petitions by the voting public.

For those unfamiliar with the terms, here is a brief description of Raytown is a Fourth Class city. Fourth Class cities are prohibited by state law to allow registered voters backed petitions to force ballot questions on the ballot. As a Charter City, voters would be allowed to bring questions directly to the ballot without City Council approval.

Just as important as the right to bring petitions for Initiative, Referendum and Recall is the amount of signatures needed to make them effective.

Originally the Commission considered thresholds of signed petitions at fairly high numbers. But after lengthy debate, Commissioners agreed on what most consider reasonable numbers for petition gatherers to gather to make ballot drives effective.

INITIATIVE PETITIONS . . . would require 8% of current registered voters to bring an issue directly from the voters to the ballot box.

REFERENDUM PETITIONS . . . would require 8% of current registered voters to bring a question requiring a vote of the people on an action taken by the City Council to the ballot box.

RECALL PETITIONS . . .  would require 17.5% of the current registered votes to bring a question requiring a vote of the people on the removal of an elected city official from office.

The benchmark was set higher for elected officials because Raytown’s city wards are so small an 8% threshold would be so ridiculously low that less than 250 voters could bring a recall vote to the ballot.

Charter Commissioners Mark Moore and Greg Walters and Jason Greene were the driving force behind the move to lower the numbers to “reachable” levels.

RAYTOWN REPORT CHOICES
Constitutional Amendments 2, 3, 6 and 10 
ON TUESDAY VOTERS WILL BE ASKED TO DECIDE THE FATE OF FIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. HERE ARE OUR CHOICES ON THE AMENDMENTS. PLEASE NOTE THAT ON AMENDMENT  4 PAUL AND GREG HAVE SPLIT THEIR ENDORSEMENT.
Constitutional Amendment # 2 will allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim less than eighteen years of age.  If a person has a history of abusing or molesting young people, the judge and jury should know this when making their decision.
VOTE YES . . . ON AMENDMENT NO. 2

Constitutional Amendment # 3 will force school districts to evaluate teachers by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding.  It will also force the school districts to dismiss, retain, demote, or promote teachers using the student performance data as part of the evaluation system.  This proposal does not account for the children who will enter the school district from other, unaccredited school districts.  The scores are the scores and the teachers will be evaluated on that alone.  It will also force teachers to teach only those subjects on the tests.  If there are no questions requiring the use of long division, would teachers really risk teaching it?  Probably not.  They will concentrate on those subjects they know will improve their evaluations. 

VOTE NO . . . ON AMENDMENT 3

Constitutional Amendment # 6 will permit voting in person or by mail for a period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before the Election Day in general elections, but only if the legislature and the governor appropriate and disburse funds to pay for the increased costs of such voting?  What are all the things wrong with this proposal?  Let me count them.  1) Early voting will only happen if the funds are appropriated and disbursed.  This should not be at the whim of the legislature or the governor or anyone else.   Either it will happen or it won’t.  Our ability to vote or not vote early is not a game.  2) We can already vote early.  It’s called absentee voting.  I did it myself once.  I was scheduled to be out of town on a business trip, so I voted early.  My neighbor is 95 years old and can’t always get out if the weather is bad.  The Election Board mails her ballot to her.  She fills it out and sends it back.  State governmental officials estimate start-up costs of about $2 million and costs to reimburse local election authorities of at least $100,000 per election.  That’s a lot of money to spend to reinvent the wheel. 
PAUL'S RECOMMENDATION . . . VOTE NO
GREG'S RECOMMENDATION . . . VOTE YES
Paul makes some valid arguments in his view of the amendment. However, I would remeind readers that any pre-voting plan would have start-up costs. Paul may not agree with how the plan is structured, but I see it as a step in the right direction. I especially appreciate that the Legislature has had the foresight to not get carried away with the early voting scheme. Some states allow pre-voting up to a month before the election. Most contests, particularly local races, are not completely developed until late in the campaign. Voting one month early does not allow voters to become fully informed about the issues.

Constitutional Amendment # 10 will require the governor to pay the public debt, and it will prohibit the governor from relying on revenue from legislation not yet passed when proposing a budget.  To restrict the governor from proposing a budget with only revenue approved by the legislature severely infringes on the checks and balances the Founding Fathers set up.   
VOTE NO . . . ON AMENDMENT 10

FIT BOTTOMED EATS
Baking Gluten-Free Bread 
That Really Is Delicious
Like I briefly mentioned in another post, years ago Ryan got into baking bread. And I mean, into it. I got him a copy of this book as a gift for Christmas, and he started making bread pretty much on the daily. And it was awesome. For all family events or gathering, there would be […] READ MORE

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19 comments:

Andy Whiteman said...

One of the many reasons I left Raytown was the outrageous personal property taxes! If the sheepole would check their tax bills, they will find close to 70% goes to the Dysfunctional School District.

I feel that the taxpayers should be responsible for funding only the subjects required to receive a HS diploma. Sports and most other electives such as band, orchestra, and chorus are not required for a diploma and should be discontinued unless the student pays to fund these activities. Offer them as an option at a price.

When I lived in Raytown I was in contact with Dr. Markley and a board member. One of them claimed that sports were NECESSARY to the education process. I don't understand why?

I suggest that when school taxes come onto the ballot, that each property owner look at his/her tax bill before voting and also when board members come onto the ballot, check their spending (waste) record.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I guess that I will offend everyone by making this comment. Close to 3 million dollars sounds just like an Obama boondoggle. Oops this is a Raytown boondoggle just so that we can import more youth football players from K.C. and see our test scores drop again. Maybe we can be just like K.C. next year. I know that our Supt. thinks that this year was just a fluke and next year the scores will be back up. Ya that would be great.

I am sorry I though that school was to prepare our youth for the future but I guess there is not much of a future to prepare them for anymore.

Andy Whiteman said...

Apparently Raytown schools' goal is to train major league football players not regular students seeking a diploma in the 3Rs!

Yes another boondoggle! Does this new one also include $2M for AstroTurf?

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Markley and his sidekick Steve need to gone not today not tomorrow but yesterday along with this mess of a school board!!!

Anonymous said...

Boondoggle: an activity or project that is unnecessary and wasteful of time or money, especially one undertaken for personal or political gain.

Yep! It fits!

Peter said...

When my students were in school they had to pay fees for band, swimming, football, drill team, that was in the late 80s to late 90s
And all the uniforms were at the parents cost.
Students could not be in extra curricular activities if their grade level dropped; it really made a difference in just sliding by on their grades.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that the stadium is a waste of taxpayer money (and I voted against the bond issue), it should be clarified that the scheduling issue and the stadium are completely unrelated items. The games played on October 24 were part of the postseason for all schools and not scheduled by the schools. It was based on seeding within districts and MSHSAA set the rules for who gets home games. Raytown and Raytown South both earned home games and the preferred scheduling from MSHSAA for a shared home stadium is to play both games the same day. Playing a game on Saturday is usually only allowed for schools that do not have lights at their field. This is the first time I can remember this happening so I think it would be a stretch to say that the desire to have a stadium had anything to do with it. The reasons given for a stadium were pretty lame but they weren't connected to the scheduling of games on October 24.

Anonymous said...

Electives in the fine arts such as band, orchestra and chorus are actually required to receive a diploma in Raytown - as well as most districts. You can argue that they shouldn't be but right now some credits are required in the fine arts for graduation.

Sports participation is not required for a diploma but don't point your finger at the students who participate for lower test scores. Study after study shows that students who participate in activities such as sports, band, debate, etc., score better on tests and have better GPAs than non-participating students. These students have to maintain eligibility and take lessons of discipline, achievement and time management into the classroom. On top of that, these students are subject to random drug testing and the number that have been caught is incredibly small.

Betty said...

Some sort of PE class is required by the State of Missouri for graduation. So are the fine arts electives. It provides a well rounded education. Extra-curricular activities, however, are another subject all together. I know the students do better when participating in these activities, but the parents need to chip in and help with the cost. Our schools are going broke because of too much spending.

Anonymous said...

It looks like all are agreed that the stadium is a huge waste of money. In light of the falling test scores it makes it appear that the stadium is all about resume' building by some of the administrators of the school system.

It is a very sad commentary on the times we live in.

Anonymous said...

Why are you all angry at the school district for spending millions of dollars on a stadium? The school district put it up for a vote and the low information voters of Raytown voted for it. Be angry at your neighbors who vote for every tax increase and bond issue that comes along.

Andy Whiteman said...

What to do with an with an abandoned Wallmart:

http://www.viralnova.com/walmart-turned-library/

Anonymous said...

Should we expect the professional educators to take the path they have chosen? There are some on this blog who even blame the voters for approving the bonds in the first place. Point well taken.

But that does make an excuse for people who make education of our young their career to take the action they have. Times change, priorities changes. Apparently the priority with the Raytown School District administrators is sports before education.

So very sad.

Latisha said...

Andy,
You've been gone from Raytown a long time. All you did was complain when you were here. Haven't you made any friends down there? Why don't you just impart all your wisdom to them and stop giving us your nonsense?

Anonymous said...

Andy. One price of speaking your piece is that there will never be a shortage of people telling you to sit down and shut up. I admire you for having the guts to say what you believe. I especially like that you give reasons for your positions. keep up the good work!

Latisha said...

One of the reasons we don't have more police on the streets is because the sales tax from the 350 corridor goes to pay for the TIF bonds. None of it goes into the city funds. Seven of the eleven people sitting at the dais every other week gave the farm away to Walmart. There isn't enough money to hire more police and to keep the ones we have. Chief Lynch says we keep losing young officers to other cities that pay better. They hire on in Raytown because we are desperate for officers. They stay a couple of years, then move on to better paying cities. Again, thanks Mayor Bower.

Kelly said...

Wow - I wish I had a pair of boots that would last 14 years. Where do I get them?

Anonymous said...

Latisha again show me on paper that the safety sales tax doesn't go to the police and EMS. Maybe if we cut the pay of the chief and Ted Bowman we would have more money to give the patrolman. They are the ones who make the BIG BUCKS thanks to Sue Frank (Ted Bowman's wife who was mayor at the time.)

Anonymous said...

Kelly
I have boots that have lasted 20 yrs!
Buy decent made boots and they will!
Only resoled once; but again I didn't wear them daily as part of a work uniform in all types of weather.
Mailmen go thru the same thing as does anyone that has to wear boots/ work shoes as part if a uniform.
My son is in construction and has to buy expensive boots on the top end but over years they pay for themselfs