Written by Cynthia Goerzen Wednesday, 23 May 2007 09:40Lesli Beery of the Parents as Teachers program explained her program at the May 14 meeting of the Goessel school board.
“It’s been a tremendous asset to the county,” Goessel superintendent John Fast said of the program.
Working with children from birth to age 3, Beery said, “Our point is to get into homes early.”
Personal visits are provided monthly or more often, depending on the need. The PAT program gives parents ideas for activities they can do with their children.
“We start the activity and then pull back,” Beery said. “We’re not the teachers; the parents are the teachers. Parents are the best first teachers.”
Beery said the PAT organization has a check-out library, as well as a link with Communities In Schools.
“We do a literacy experience at every visit,” she said.
PAT also encourages home-made toys and books, and Beery showed examples.
Developmental screenings reveal which children need to be referred for early intervention. Health, vision and hearing screenings are also provided.
Unlike many other programs, PAT is free and open to people from all income levels. Beery said some 15-year-old mothers are involved, as well as parents with a master’s degree. About 100 families are involved in the Marion County PAT program.
Beery said she would welcome more Goessel families.
Fast said the program had been based on a first- come, first-served basis. But with a change in funding, PAT is now reserving a certain number of slots for each community.
“Grants are critical for PAT,” Fast said. Beery added that “for every 65 cents the schools put in, the state gives a dollar.”
Fast said that Goessel's share will be $2,900 for next year.
Board member Richard Drake said, “It’s a great program,” but added that “it is not an equitable situation” and suggested that the fee structure be reviewed.
Beery, who has been with PAT for five years, will be leaving the job on June 30. Lori Soo Hoo will be her successor.
On another matter, Fast said the tornado at Greensburg causes all superintendents to assess the safety of their school buildings.
Fast said he feels “very good” about storm safety at the junior/senior high school. In the event of a tornado, everyone would go down to the basement in the new part of the building, where concrete and steel would provide protection, and there is an absence of glass.
But Fast is concerned about the elementary school. For a storm up to an F-4, everyone would crouch in the halls. The steel doors would help shelter students and teachers from glass, although there might be some glass danger.
In the event of an F-5 tornado, everyone would need to go to the basement. Fast took the board on a tour of the basement. They could understand why kindergarten and first-grade students are sometimes reluctant to go into the basement. Fast pointed out water on the floor, the ceiling that might not be strong enough, and other issues that need to be addressed.
“It is important that we make some preparations,” Fast said. He has talked to the state Homeland Security director about various options in the building as it is and asked the board for approval to hire a consultant to come and assess the situation and make suggestions for storm safety improvements.
The board agreed.
In other business, the board:
- hired Christy Berkey to teach high school math. Berkey attended Hesston College and Tabor College, as well as Grace Christian Academy. She has taught at Hillsboro High School and Wichita Heights.
- approved several supplemental staff contract changes. Four resignations were approved: Wes Schmidt-Tieszen as assistant high school Scholar’s Bowl coach and assistant junior high Quiz Bowl coach, Bruce Stucky as head high school Scholar’s Bowl coach, Ryan Hoopes as junior high head girls’ basketball coach, and Brian Holloway as head high school girls’ basketball coach.
- approved the following supplemental contracts to fill the resigned positions: Schmidt-Tieszen as head high school Scholar’s Bowl, Stucky as assistant high school Scholar’s Bowl, Hoopes as head high school girls’ basketball, Joel Hesed as assistant junior high Quiz Bowl and assistant high school basketball, Nick Brown as junior high assistant boys’ basketball, Melinda Stucky as assistant high school volleyball coach, and Christy Berkey as junior class sponsor.
- discussed the technology plan update. It has to be approved by the state every three years, Fast said. The technology committee consists of Fast, junior/senior high school principal Curt Graves, Justin Coup, Lee Buller, Brian Holloway, Debbie Hughbanks, Russel Pauls and Denise Nickel,
- reviewed technology needs. Fast informed the board, “It will continue to be a major expense,” although he said the school tries to be prudent. Fast said technology is used in every classroom. Fast said that with laptops, desktops, infrastructure, and training, the school spends about $40,000 to $50,000 a year on technology.
- Graves added, “We’re having to put so much into it now because we were so far behind.”
- The current purchase under consideration would be the last major one. The board approved the purchase of 10 desktop computers and six laptops.
- heard Richard Drake report on the Marion County Special Education Cooperative. He said there had been three staff resignations. Fast said a speech teacher will be assigned to Goessel for next school year.
- changed next month’s regularly scheduled meeting to the third Monday of the month instead of the second Monday. Therefore, the board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, June 18.
- also scheduled a special meeting for 7 a.m. Thursday, June 28 for conducting end-of-year fiscal business.
- met in executive session to discuss wages and salaries. In open session, the board approved a 5.3 percent increase for certified staff and for classified staff.