Goessel board hears of robotics team achievements

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
John Fast, Goessel superintendent/elementary principal, told the USD 411 Board of Education at its March 14 meeting that the sixth-grade robotics team came home from the Feb. 26 Wichita State University competition with four trophies, including the trophy for third-place overall.

The team received first place for its table and notebook display, plus two judges’ choice awards.

Junior high/high school principal Curt Graves commended junior high students and music teachers Bud Meisel and Greg Bontrager for “continuing the tradition of excellence” at the Heart of America League music contest at Berean March 8.

“This is the first time everyone came home with a ‘I’,” Fast added.

Fast reported that fourth-grade students were completing the math assessment tests, fifth-grade students reading assessments, and sixth-grade students social studies assessments.

He said students are taking the tests on-line this year for the first time, but the state needs to work out some “bugs.” He said the USD 411 lacks enough computer stations.

Graves said some teachers prefer state assessment tests before spring break; others prefer assessments after spring break.

Fast reviewed enrollment projections. He said the school is expecting 12 kindergarten students next school year, which will mean a drop of eight students for a total of 274.

He is projecting only 10 kindergarten students for the 2006-07 school year. He said the school district will graduate a class of 26 seniors next year. Therefore, projected enrollment in a few years will be down to 240.

Board chairman Lynel Unrau said that over a 10-year period, the school could be dropping 100 students.

Fast said, “We’ve had low enrollment before” but “school finance is different now.”

Fast said he has talked to the staff about the effect of enrollment on the budget. Fast said his doctoral dissertation examines enrollment issues.

Fast said he would like to send a newsletter to alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years to keep in touch and invite them to settle in the school district.

He would like to increase the number of people who currently receive the newsletter. He would also like to offer it electronically.

On another matter, the board discussed the possibility of offering driver’s education in the summer instead of during the school year to open up a class period.

Graves said the change would eliminate the need to pull students out of first-hour classes to drive. A fee would be required to cover the cost of the course.

Board members asked about allowing out-of-district students and exchange students to participate, and discussed scheduling.

Details would have to be worked out. A summer class would not begin until 2006.

Board member Maynard Duerksen said, “It makes a lot of sense” to move it to summer. But no decision was made.

In other business, the board:

— approved the administration’s recommendation to hire Wes Schmidt-Tieszen for the Scholar’s Bowl/Quiz Bowl assistant coach position.

— approved the administration’s recommendation to hire Crysta Guhr as head coach for high school volleyball.

— voted to extend the administrative contracts for one year through 2006-07. Fast’s and Graves’ positions are full-time; business administrator Chet Roberts’ position is 0.3.

— accepted the resignation of Don Dailey as junior high girls’ basketball coach. He will continue his teaching duties.

— heard from member Richard Drake that Chris Cezar has been hired as the new director of the Marion County Special Education Cooperative. Drake said Cezar has been director of special education at Derby since 1999.

Drake said he comes with a lot of outstanding recommendations.

“He strikes me as a person who has a passion for special education,” Fast said.

Cezar will begin his director duties July 1. Drake thanked Fast for his work in hosting applicants.

— heard from that the musical for grades four through six about silent movies would be presented at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. March 17.

— heard Fast’s report on the fifth-grade invention day held the previous week. He said the turnout was good, with lots of parents and grandparents attending.

— heard from Fast that the school accreditation visit will be April 13.

“Our team and staff have worked really hard to get all our documentation and notebooks ready for this visit,” he said.

Fast said accreditation visits in future years will be set up differently.

— heard Fast say he would like to look into purchasing a used bus with 10,500 miles for a savings of $12,000 to $15,000.

— heard from Graves that a servant-leadership training day is being planned at Sterling College. It would provide additional character education opportunities and curriculum.

— the board discussed eliminating one small bus route by dividing those students on that route among two other bus routes.

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