Goessel plans to celebrate ‘Excellence’ with extra time off

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA GOERZEN
Curt Graves, Goessel junior high/high school principal, told the USD 411 Board of Education at its Feb. 14 board meeting that Goessel students attained the Standard of Excellence in five different areas of the 2003-04 Kansas State Assessment tests.

Graves described various rewards in past years and said this year the administration would like to reward students and staff by giving extra time off right before spring break. He asked the board to allow school to dismiss at 12:30 p.m. , Friday, March 18.

Graves said the time off would also be an incentive to the students to perform well on this year’s state assessment tests.

Board member Mary Rosfeld made a motion to that effect. Maynard Knepp seconded the motion, and it passed. But board member Lynette Duerksen expressed concern about afternoon classes often being the ones to be canceled, for example, in the case of inclement weather.

Graves said he has been working with counselor Janna Duerksen to modify the scheduling so that sustained silent reading (SSR) would be at the end of the day in the future.

Junior high and high school tests will be taken on-line in March. Elementary school assessment tests will also be on-line and will be taken in February.

Superintendent/Elementary Principal John Fast discussed technology planning with the board. Members took time during the meeting to go to the high school to see the computer labs.

“I wanted you to be aware of technology in the district,” Fast said, adding that he wanted to raise awareness and start planning for future technology needs. “Technology is changing rapidly.”

He would like for lap-top computers to become standard for students, just like notebooks are now.

“How soon we can do that, I don’t know,” he said, noting that staff training will be a key to providing such instruction.

High school computer teacher Justin Coup and said some schools have lap-top computers for students. At such schools, textbooks are on the lap-tops, and separate textbooks are not purchased.

Fast had taken several board members and teachers to view the technology set-up at Little River, Sedgwick and Moundridge. The goal of that trip was to see what other schools are doing and then discuss ideas for keeping up with technology in the Goessel schools.

It was noted that some magazines are sent to all student lap-tops at Sedgwick, and the school doesn’t order those magazines in print.

“We need to look at technology like we do busses…,” Knepp said. “Technology is going to be a line item every year.”

Coup agreed and told the board, “You have to think software as well.”

Fast said he is working on a joint technology grant with the Burrton school district. Schools will be notified about grant acceptance or rejection early in April.

Graves described the Pro-Link program that technology coordinator Jeff Enns is installing.

“Jeff is working very hard,” Graves said, adding that it will be partly usable before school is over and fully operational by fall. It will allow parents to access information about their children from home, such as grades and behavior management.

“It’s not a complicated thing to run,” Graves said and noted that it should increase and assist in the communication process between parents and the school. It will be helpful to teachers since they will be able to access their computer grade book from home.

Graves said Pro-Link costs a one-time set-up fee of $3,000 to $5,000. It is part of the Pro-Star system. The annual Pro-Star fee is $1,800. That annual fee will now increase to a total of $3,500 when Pro-Link is included.

In other business:

— Fast said the sixth-grade robotics team will participate in an all-day competition at Wichita State University sponsored by the WSU education and engineering departments Feb. 26.

— Fast said elementary students are participating in a “treasure hunt” reading incentive this month.

— Graves said Goessel will participate in the Sterling basketball tournament for the next two years to give the team an opportunity to play schools other than league schools.

However, he said that Moundridge and Trinity, who are also in the Heart of America League, participate in the Sterling tournament, too.

He said it gives the team a chance to play in a college facility. However, the girls will continue in the Berean tournament, which is “a well-run event with an awesome new facility,” according to Graves.

— the board agreed to hire an assistant Quiz Bowl coach to help when two teams go to tournaments.

Duerksen noted that coach Brian Stucky does a good job with the students. “He puts in a lot of extra time I think it would be nice to have an assistant.”

— the board agreed to begin the process of filling the open positions of head high school volleyball coach and head junior high volleyball coach.

— the board approved hiring a part-time aide to work two hours every afternoon for the remainder of the school year in the first grade. Twenty students are enrolled in the first grade.

Board chairman Lynel Unrau said, “This district is historically not over-identified” through the county co-op, although “We pay our assessments… We’re covering this ourselves again.”

— board member Richard Drake reported on the recent Marion County Special Education Cooperative meeting he had attended.

He said 20 people had applied for the director job. The list has been narrowed, and interviews will be conducted Feb. 21 through 24, with candidates touring all the schools in the county. The goal is to hire a new director by March 1.

— Drake said there had been some discussion at the Co-op meeting about combining some administrative duties, such as the TEEN network. However, Goessel uses the TLC network, not TEEN.

— Board member Dewayne Voth reported on the TLC (The Learning Consortium) meeting he attended. Board members viewed the ITV (interactive television) facility.

— Fast said it is time for “meet and confer” negotiations to begin. Dan Miller and Lynette Duerksen are the board representatives. Jay Goering and Brian Holloway are the teacher representatives. Fast cautioned that there are a lot of “unknowns” for next year’s budget, but said it is time to begin the dialogue process anyway.

— Fast said that Graves and two students had gone with him to Topeka to talk to legislators Jay Emler and Don Dahl about school finance issues.

— Fast said plans for next school year include in-service and teacher work days Aug. 15, 16 and 17, with May 25, 2006, the last day of school. There will be a full week for spring break again.

— Fast reported that the press box is progressing. Speakers need to be hooked up. Painting needs to be done. Restrooms need to be finished. Concrete around the building needs to be poured.

— Fast reported that the maintenance building is also progressing. Insulation, wiring, and trenching need to be completed.

“It will be a great facility,” Fast said. It will have space for machinery, storage, and shop work. By consensus the board decided to spend $2,100 for additional insulation in the ceiling. Drake said, “It will come back to us” in energy savings.

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