Goessel school board reviews building improvement needs

The Goessel school board discussed building improvement needs at its Oct. 8 meeting.

Consultant Jim Cain was again present to discuss the possibility of renovation projects at the junior/senior high school and at the elementary school. He also had attended the September meeting. Josh Walker from Loyd Builders of Ottawa also was at the Oct. 8 meeting.

At last month’s meeting, Superintendent John Fast had explained the urgency for such a renovation project, noting that if Gov. Brownback’s plan materializes, state aid for bond money that is currently available to schools will be repealed. If that happens, poorer schools will be especially affected, including Goessel.

The bond election would have to be held prior to July 1 in order to make use of state aid bond funds, which would pay 35 percent of the project.

Walker and Cain had spent 21?2 hours touring the school facilities with Fast and Scott Boden, junior/senior high school principal.

They looked at areas of need that the board had identified: agricultural education, science, family and consumer science, bricks and mortar (because of air and moisture infiltration), new windows, parking, storm shelter at the elementary school, renovations to the boys restroom at the elementary school, American with Disabilities Act requirements, a new entrance at the high school, curriculum and technology.

Another possibility mentioned by the board would include sound-proofing for the music practice rooms.

Walker had considered an independent structure for vocational education.

But, he said, “you lose so much space.”

He suggested instead a new structure attached to the current high school building.

He said vocational agriculture needs large, open areas, in addition to a paint booth, office space, classroom and restrooms. He suggested a science lab that could handle 24 students could also be located in that building, as well as family and consumer science and a maintenance office.

The board had ideas for the site of the current vocational agriculture building, mentioning parking space as a high priority. It was also noted that storage space is needed for chairs and other equipment for the high school gym. A 10-foot-by-30-foot area could also provide storage for the lawn mower.

Walker said space could be freed up in the “core” of the high school facility if science and FACS would be moved into a new space. Board member Lynnette Duerksen asked how much space the science and FACS departments have now. Cain said they each have 1,500 square feet.

Walker said a new high school entrance is needed so that everyone who enters after school starts would have to go through the office as a safety precaution.

The elementary school needs a storm shelter large enough to handle 165 people.

Fast said, “This plan starts the conversation…. This is an idea. It is not a blueprint.”

He said staff will be asked for their ideas.

Board member Eric Schrag advised the board to look into the future, particularly in regard to the elementary school building. Cain agreed it is aging, but said it is still structurally sound.

Board president Dan Miller encouraged the board: “I do have a sense of urgency.”

Cain agreed, asking the board to “get all that we can get done by December.”

He said public meetings need to be scheduled between now and then. He said in order for the school to meet the July 1 deadline, the bond election will need to be April 2.

A basic proposal, however, needs to be filed with the state 90 days before the election. Cain said that would be Jan. 1—but no one would be working in state offices that day. Therefore, also considering the Christmas holiday, the proposal has to be submitted earlier in December.

“This is going to have to move fast,” he said. “December is two months from now.”

The administration and board agreed they wished there would be time for more research. But they also acknowledged the urgency of the matter.

Duerksen said, “We have to make the best decisions we can” within the time constraints.

Cain said the planning process usually takes one or two years, but “this time we have to rush” in order to make use of the state money.

Cain said that with a construction manager, all the sub-contractor bids come to the school board, so the local board maintains control. Walker would qualify them.

Cain contrasted that process to a general contractor, who obtains the sub-contractors himself; the board does not choose them.

Board member Maynard Knepp advised the board that in the previous building project, the superintendent at the time had become an on-site manager. Knepp said that was a full-time responsibility for Davis.

“We had three administrators,” Knepp said.

Now, Goessel has only two administrators.

If Loyd Builders is chosen for the project, they would assign a full-time person to the project and Walker would come himself about once a week to inspect the progress.

The cost would include design, construction, permits, equipment—everything except furniture since some furniture currently in use might still be usable.

Fast said the bond would be a 15-year issue, and the mill levy could hold steady. Cain said interest rates are low at 2 percent now. But that rate could vary by the time the bonds are sold, which can be any time after the bond election.

Fast said a presentation would be made to the staff Friday, Oct. 12. They would be asked for their input.

Other business

In other business, the board:

• approved Travis Duerksen as forensics coach. He is a Goessel High School graduate with significant high school and college experience in dramatic performance.

• heard from Boden that the high school fall band concert had been changed. It will not be Oct. 22, as listed on the school calendar. Instead, it will be Oct. 18 at Bethel College in conjunction with the Bethel College wind ensemble.

• heard from Fast that fire chief Larry Jay planned to visit the elementary classrooms Oct. 11

• learned that 52 parents had come to the school to eat lunch with their children Sept. 24 on “Eat Dinner with Your Family” day.

• heard that a speed bump had been installed on the driveway east of the high school.

• heard from Boden that Oct. 1-5 was bullying awareness week. Counselor Janna Duerk­sen led daily activities to raise awareness of bullying and to encourage students to take a positive stand against bullying behaviors. Boden commended Duerksen for her outstanding training.

• heard that Fast and Boden had attended a Marion County sheriff’s department presentation outlining how police are trained to respond to critical incidents at schools. Admini­strators are working to update the school’s crisis plan.

• heard from Boden about a volleyball fundraiser for local accident victims and a fund-raiser by the FFA for Numana. FFA members hope to raise $6,000 for other countries.

• heard that Oct. 12 would be in-service day. Teachers would be asked for their ideas about a possible bond project. Common core curriculum would also be discussed.

• listened to board member Kelly Booton’s report on Marion County Special Education Cooperative. He said the co-op had discussed insurance.

• listened to The Learning Consortium report from board member Darla Meysing. She said regular bills had been paid.

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