After reviewing a proposed plan for the project at its Dec. 10 meeting, the USD 411-Goessel school board approved a contract with Loyd Construction for its facilities renovation and expansion project.
Architect Josh Walker, representing Loyd Construction, said plans for the project had changed somewhat after meetings with staff.
He explained renovation plans for rooms currently in the high school. The art room would become the weight room. He said the tiered steps would be removed, and new flooring and rubberized mats would be installed. Art would be moved to the current science room.
The plans also address the need for a more secure high school entrance. In order to save money, Walker suggested renovating the current entry rather than building a new one. He said the current entrance could be renovated so everyone who enters the building after school starts would go through the office, which would be moved into the current teacher work room.
A changing room for ballgame officials and a staff restroom have been added. Walker said the bulk of the work is with the layout in the vocational agriculture area.
Scott Boden, junior high and high school principal, said science and vocational agriculture could share some equipment, such as microscopes. The need for chemical storage and fire-inhibiting storage was addressed.
Windows in the old part of the high school need to be replaced. The exterior of the old part needs a sealant to reduce deterioration.
Walker said the storm shelter at the elementary school, which could hold 195 people, would meet Federal Emergency Management Agency standards.
“It’s a flexible space,” he said. “The only thing it can’t be used for is storage.”
John Fast, superintendent and elementary school principal, said he would like to rope off a space in the elementary school gym that would equal the dimensions of the storm shelter and then have everyone step inside so students would have some idea what it would be like.
Walker said, “It will be cozy.”
The remodeling project would also include renovating the boys’ restroom at the elementary school.
Fast addressed the need for additional parking at the high school. Walker said it would be a gravel parking lot. “Anything above and beyond that, we absolutely don’t have enough money for that,” Walker said.
Fast said he appreciates that Walker listens to the school’s concern for “function over form.”
Walker said, “My interests are to build within your means.”
The board reviewed the lists of needs that teachers Gina Bergin, Zana Manche and Donna O’Neill had prepared. Board member Maynard Knepp commended them: “They did a lot of work.”
Board chair Dan Miller mentioned a water well that is on school property. Boden noted the need to run a line to the football fields. However, that is not included in the project proposal.
The board thanked Walker for his quick turn-around time and commended him for his work. Prior to the board’s approval, the contract with Loyd had been reviewed by attorney John Klenda.
In his legislative update, board member James Wiens said he and Fast heard conflicting reports about education funding at the Kansas Association of School Boards meetings they had attended.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer suggested that more cuts to education might be made in order to balance the state’s projected shortfall. Therefore, some people are speculating that Gov. Sam Brownback might not honor his earlier assurance that K-12 and universities would not be cut. Some are wondering about the future of programs such as Parents As Teachers. The lobbyist cautioned school boards to not presume anything.
Wiens said tax policy will likely dominate in the coming months. He told the board about the push for “college and career readiness,” which replaces “common core curriculum.”
Fast said college and career readiness guidelines filter down to kindergarten. Wiens talked about “project-based learning,” giving the students an opportunity to “learn by doing.”
For example, he said, “You don’t learn to play music by writing down notes on paper.” Likewise, “You don’t learn math by writing math numbers on paper.”
Ken Willard is leading an efficiency group. However, Fast said that much is already being done efficiently. For example, he mentioned educational co-ops.
In other business, the board:
• listened to a presentation by Allison Krehbiel, who is the new third-grade teacher. Because of the large number of students in that grade, the class is divided into two classrooms this year. Dale Wiens is the other third grade teacher.
Krehbiel explained some of her teaching methods and said she is excited for the opportunity to teach at Goessel.
• heard from Fast that the elementary school was collecting food items for the Tabor Mennonite Church food pantry. Their goal was 375 items. As a reward for reaching the goal, the plan is to invite Weston Hiebert, a Goessel High School graduate, to visit each classroom in his Kansas State University football uniform and share what he does for charities as a member of the KSU team.
• heard that Tuesday, Jan. 2 will be a work day for teachers. However, teachers have a choice to work a different day during the Christmas break if they wish.
• listened to Boden’s community service day report. He said Bergin “did an outstanding job” working with the student council to organize the activities: collected canned food for the Tabor Church food pantry, raked leaves for residents who cannot do that themselves, played games with elementary school students and Bethesda residents, made cookies for community members, and made presentations to high school students on image and leadership.
• commended the school for receiving the publications award for the school website and school newsletters.