John Fast, Goessel superintendent and elementary school principal, told the USD 411 school board at the Feb. 11 meeting about community information gatherings in the coming weeks regarding a school remodeling project.
He said an open house is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at the high school. A PowerPoint presentation will show the current agricultural education facility and where the proposed new facility will be located. Other proposed improvements will be explained as well.
Fast said information was available at the grade school musical performances Feb. 14.
Information will also be available at the grade school reading night March 12.
Another open house is planned for 6:30 p.m. March 28 at the high school.
Board member Kelly Booton said the renovation committee is trying to help people understand the need for the project.
“We have a lot of people working very hard on this committee,” Fast said. He showed the board a display that students in Tyler Schroeder’s class had made. The display will be located in various places throughout the community in the coming weeks.
The board reviewed the six areas that have been identified as high priorities for improvements: (1) agricultural education, (2) high school science lab, (3) family and consumer science lab, (4) brick deterioration on the oldest part of the high school building, (5) window replacement in that part of the building, and (6) a storm shelter at the grade school.
Improvements for security at both the high school and the grade school also are planned.
The board and administration stressed that “the safety of all of our students and staff must be a high priority.” The board noted that the lack of proper ventilation is a concern in the high school science lab and in the agricultural education lab. Also, under-floor gas lines have been shut off for safety reasons.
The board noted the original part of the high school was built in 1936, more than 75 years ago. The exterior brick walls need to be tuck-pointed and sealed to provide structural integrity. Windows in that part of the building leak and are not energy efficient and need to be replaced.
Also mentioned was the need to construct a storm shelter at the grade school. Currently, students would have to crouch in the hallway if there would be a tornado.
“Our children and grandchildren are our future and the future of our community,” Fast said.
It was noted that interest rates are low right now, and that the 40 percent in matching state aid that is currently available may not be available in the future. Therefore, the board feels an urgency for this project as an investment in the future of the community.
District constituents will have an opportunity to vote on the proposal at the April election.
The board heard that Kyle Funk’s name will appear uncontested on the election ballot for the open at-large school board position.
In other business the board:
• commended high school science teacher Donna O’Neill for an award she won. They approved her trip to the national convention in San Antonio, Texas.
• expressed appreciation to Mid-Kansas Cooperative for donating $500 to the elementary school gardening program. Fast said Pam Abrahams is helping the students with the project.
• heard from Fast and Scott Boden, junior/senior high school principal, about recent student accomplishments.
• heard from Boden that the Wheat State League voted to raise junior high ball game ticket prices to match the cost of high school tickets for next year.
“I was not in favor of that,” Boden said, noting that high school ticket prices will stay the same as they have been.
• heard a recycling report from Fast.
“We fill the recycling bin at the school every time,” he said.
He commended students and staff for participating in the recycling effort. However, Fast said that Marion County is planning to discontinue the county recycling effort April 30 since some towns have not been participating.
“I hate to see it just dropped,” Fast said, expressing concern about increased trash in the landfill. He said he would check into the matter.
• listened to Boden’s substance abuse prevention report. He had attended meetings in Washington, D.C., presented by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America National Leadership Forum.
He said the Marion County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is beginning to use that framework to identify strategies for addressing youth substance abuse.
He learned at the Washington meetings that marijuana use is up significantly because of a perceived lack of risk. He said statistics show a 6 percent drop in IQ for marijuana users.
• heard the Marion County Special Education Cooperative report from Booton.
“Our biggest concern is heating and cooling,” he said, noting that the boiler/chiller might need to be replaced, and possibly some windows.
Board chair Dan Miller said, “It’s complicated; it’s not an easy solution,” adding that, “the five districts in this co-op have a nice facility.” He commended Booton for his work on the board.
• heard The Learning Consortium report from board member Darla Meysing. She said it seems to be running smoothly. Fast added, “The quality is greatly improved over a year ago.” New equipment was recently installed.
• heard a legislative report from board member James Wiens. He mentioned at-risk funding and how it might be changed. Fast said a group is pushing for a separate designation for students with dyslexia.
Wiens said the governor’s tax plans are being discussed; the governor wants to get rid of property tax and keep the sales tax. He also wants to restrict political activities in which teachers can be involved.
• heard there is a push from some in the state legislature for private school vouchers. Bills are under consideration that could force schools to raise the mill levy and put more burden on property tax.
• heard that some in the Legislature want to deny a driver’s license to anyone under 21 who does not finish high school.
• heard that the Jan. 21 school improvement day at Goessel was used to introduce staff to the state’s Common Core Standards. Staff also reviewed and practiced effective discipline strategies and identified technology questions and concerns.
• heard from Boden that Hope and White City will be combined for most sports for next year.
• approved a contract with Newton High School to continue the vocational technology agreement. Fast expressed appreciation to the Newton district for this service, noting that it gives Goessel students opportunities that cannot be provided here. He said two students are enrolled in the Newton program this year, but six to eight are interested in participating in it next year.
• approved the 2013-14 school calendar. Fast said spring break will line up with Newton and Marion County schools.