Goessel board hears plans for charter school

Superintendent Chet Roberts explained at the Dec. 11 Goessel school board meeting the charter “school within a school” that he is proposing.

He said he plans to go to Topeka later in the week to talk with educators on the state level.

“We’re trying to get the concept accepted,” he said.

Junior/senior high school principal Stuart Holmes said the state will designate 17 new charter schools this year. Roberts said he is aware of 24 applications.

Board president Lynel Unrau added that the charter Roberts is proposing is different than the other charters under consideration. The proposed school would function as part of the Goessel school district. Students will not be charged tuition.

Roberts sees a need for additional agricultural and environmental education on the high school level, especially since Goessel is an agricultural community.

Existing facilities could be used for classroom space, shop, and work room. An area would be set aside for soil testing, water quality testing, computers, and global positioning units. A greenhouse would be constructed. Existing science rooms would be used for team teaching.

Roberts wrote: “The goal of our charter school is to better equip our students with new and innovative skills and knowledge in the following curriculum areas: science, environment, technology, and agriculture. The goal would include the purchase and use of up-to-date technology….”

Up to 50 percent of class time would be spent in lab-related work.

Roberts explained the ideal of developing partnerships with local and state agencies, such as extension offices, rural water districts, and noxious weed offices.

The charter school would also relate to the local nursing home, garden club, farmers organization, and the city of Goessel.

According to Roberts, the most important objective is to ensure that students are prepared to meet the challenges of a changing world.

The charter school would schedule a “9th hour” for the purpose of teaching community members and alumni in the areas of technology, environmental science and horticulture issues, soil and water sampling, and global positioning.

Board members expressed enthusiasm for Roberts’ plan and work.

In other business, elementary school principal John Fast explained plans for Martin Luther King Day. He said the elementary school will spend a week discussing cultural diversity. The school will “also focus on other world leaders and how they brought about change in the world.”

Fast specifically mentioned Mother Theresa, Ghandi, and Albert Switzer.

He said a choir of students from a school in Wichita will perform. Irvin and Susan Voth will give a presentation on the Middle East. Denise Nickel and Norma Duerksen will present information about South Africa.

Fast acknowledged the work of Londell Duerksen, who has been the elementary school custodian since 1982.

“Our building wouldn’t run without him. He puts in a lot of time,” Fast said.

Besides regular school days, the building is used frequently for other activities also. Duerksen appreciates the major roof repair on the east wing. He had also told Fast that he appreciates the good staff and is thankful for Delton Voth’s help as part-time custodian.

Fast said Duerksen understands the tight budget, even though there is a need for window, sink and gym floor improvements.

Said Fast, “It’s a real pleasure to work with him.”

Holmes announced a school calendar change. Goessel will host the Heart of America League Scholar’s Bowl competition Jan. 10. As a result, high school students will be dismissed at 12:30 that day, but grade school and junior high school students will have a full day of school.

Holmes reported that the Scholar’s Bowl team had placed first at Remington in competition with 13 schools.

Holmes also commended the music department. A number of Goessel students participated in the Kansas Music Educators Association concert in Wichita.

In other business:

— The board voted to hire Bruce Stucky as the head high school Scholar’s Bowl coach.

— Holmes reported on the high school work day. “It was good to get out and give something back to the community,” he said. He said students, faculty, staff, and administration raked, bagged, and hauled off leaves from 23 houses in Goessel.

— Fast reported that the scoreboard at the grade school has not been working. Hesston College had a similar scoreboard that was no longer in use and donated it to the grade school. Fast expressed his appreciation for the donation.

— High school football coach Jay Goering attended the meeting and presented bids for football uniforms. The board approved the bid of $6,092 from Sports Connection for 33 white jerseys, 33 blue jerseys, and 33 pants. Sports uniforms are on a six-year rotation schedule. Goering plans to sell the old uniforms.

— Board member Maynard Knepp raised a concern about academics.

“I was wondering if we could do a better job of recognizing academics,” he said. “We do a good job of recognizing sports.”

Holmes agreed. “It’s easy for the activities to over-shadow academics,” he said. He also said he has been inviting honor-roll students to his office for pop.

— The board spent some time discussing how to deal with unpaid lunch accounts. Roberts had checked with other schools and found that some “cut off” students from the lunch program after two unpaid meals, others after 10 unpaid meals.

— Roberts said he will be working on bus specifications within the next week.

— Roberts said a study done by Wichita State University showed concern with the amount of carry-over in the Marion County Special Education Co-op budget.

— The board approved payment of the insurance increase of $5.60 per month for the single rate.

— The board approved the financial statements of $41,562.80. Roberts said not enough money had been budgeted for water for the unusually dry fall. He said gas prices have gone up five to six times.

“Nobody budgeted enough for heat,” he said.

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