Goessel band, choir selected for KMEA concert, board told

Goessel junior/senior high school principal Stuart Holmes told the Goessel School Board at its Aug. 12 meeting that the high school band and choir have been independently selected to perform at the Kansas Music Educators Association state convention Feb. 28.

“This is a great honor for our students and directors Bud Meisel and Greg Bontrager,” Holmes said.

He said the name of the schools were not identified on the audition compact disks for the judges. He said the USD 411 band and choir were selected as one of the best in the state, even though many larger schools also auditioned.

Holmes also commended GHS students who earned gold medals at the national FCCLA competition in Minneapolis, Minn., earlier this summer.

Superintendent Chet Roberts told the school board the projected 2002-2003 total enrollment is 296.8 students, which is two students fewer than the previous school year. Referring to enrollment statistics, he said, “I think it will turn around in about five years and start heading back up.”

Elementary school principal John Fast said kindergarten enrollment held steady at 20 students. He is projecting that next year’s kindergarten class will be the same size.

Holmes credited advance planning for helping enrollment go smoothly and quickly.

Roger Edgar and Dave Atterbury, investment bankers with George K. Baum, attended the meeting to discuss refinancing the 1995 bond issue to lower the interest rate and thereby save money.

“Bond rates are as low as they’ve been in 20 years,” Edgar said. “No one can say how much lower interest rates will go…. We think we’re near the bottom…. Once the stock market turns around, interest rates are likely to rise.”

He said he believed the school board could save “one full percentage point,” suggesting that the 5.11-percent interest rate on the current bond could be lowered to 4.02 percent. Consequently, the school district could save $76,187.

“We think it is an opportunity for the school district to save some money,” he said.

Board member Richard Drake noticed that according to the plan presented, most of the savings would be realized in the last year of the bond. He asked if the savings could be spread out more. Atterbury said that if the savings were moved up to next year, the school would only save $45,000. He said spreading the savings over several years would only help by a few thousand dollars a year. Therefore, the most benefit to the school would come in the last year.

Atterbury said, “Let the people know you’re being good stewards and you’re saving money where you can.”

Drake said, “I definitely think we should pursue it.”

When Edgar asked if the school board wished to pursue front-end savings (about $45,000) or back-end savings (about $76,187), board member Maynard Knepp responded, “I think we should try to go for the maximum savings.”

The board approved Roberts’ recommendation that the school board authorize the company to help the district take advantage of the maximum amount of savings in the long-run. The board will receive a prospectus within 45 days. At that time, the board will decide whether or not to proceed with the refinancing proposal.

In other business:

n?The board voted to offer Alberto Martinez a contract as assistant director for the fall musical.

n?The board approved Holmes’ recommendation to hire Jim L’Homme as an additional high school assistant football coach.

n?Following executive session, the board hired Marlene Klassen as the kindergarten aide. She will fill the position vacated by long-time employee Verda Wedel, who retired.

n?Roberts presented a boardmanship award to board chair Lynel Unrau.

n?Roberts reviewed capital outlay items, explaining that door replacement at the grade school “is pretty well taken care of.” The grade school windows also need to be replaced. The old windows have been in place since the building was built in 1959. According to Roberts, they have become an energy and comfort issue. Other items on the capital outlay list include football lights, fencing and track resurfacing.

n?Fast said new fixtures have been installed in the grade school restrooms, and new counters have been installed in classrooms.

n?Fast demonstrated a wireless laptop computer and a portable key-pad that can be attached to a laptop or desktop computer. He commented: “Our kids are living in a digital world. We have to stay on top of it.”

n?The board reviewed Kansas Association of School Boards policy recommendations that deal with credit-card use, copyright laws, personnel records, workman’s compensation, performance-based credits, computer use, drug-free stipulations, release of records (to school officials, law enforcement and school board in executive session), and peer grading. Lower courts had ruled that peer grading cannot be used, but the Supreme Court decided to allow it.

n?Board member Dewayne Voth reported that insurance premiums for The Learning Consortium in-ground fiber have doubled over the previous year. The TLC board discussed the future of the consortium and will check to see how much it would cost to update equipment. Roberts said the TLC is trying to obtain a grant to switch from analog to digital equipment.

n?Drake said the Marion County Special Education Cooperative assessment could increase by $11,000. Drake was elected vice chairman of the co-op.

n?Holmes reviewed test scores of students who were enrolled in the charter-school classes. He said the students were tested in September and again in April. Reading scores among this group of students showed a 14.7-percent increase in that amount of time, math scores increased 14.6 percent, and writing scores increased by 21.1 percent. He credited the improvement to “hands-on” learning.

Roberts said he has received official notification that the school will receive a $25,000 challenge grant.

n?The board approved the financial statements of $55,838.32. Drake asked about cheerleading camp and uniforms. Holmes said the girls raised money for these expenses and contributed some money themselves.

n?The board approved the 2002-2003 budget in the amount of $2,255,858.

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