Goessel school board hears of new non-academic programs

Justin Coup, Goessel High School activities director, coach and business teacher, attended the Oct. 10 meeting of the Unified School District 411 Board of Education to explain the Champions of Character program.

The program encourages students to be role models and demonstrate positive character behavior at all times, he said.

To illustrate, Coup said athletes are encouraged to participate in service projects. High school volleyball students are involved with elementary students as pen pals, the football team has been involved with cleaning up after games and the cross country team helped with the 5-kilometer walk/run at Bethel College’s Fall Festival Oct. 1.

John Fast, superintendent and elementary school principal, explained the Adequate Yearly Progress report for the Goessel school district.

“It’s very, very good for Goessel,” he said. “USD 411 is in really good shape.”

AYP is part of the federal government’s No Child Left Behind mandate. Fast said the school is not on an improvement plan and is allowed to “self-direct.”

According to Fast, USD 411 has a 97.2 percent attendance rate, while the requirement is 90 percent. The school has a 96.6 percent graduation rate, while the requirement stands at 75 percent.

Fast said assessments rate students on an individual basis as exemplary, advanced, proficient, basic or unsatisfactory.

“We’re at 90.9 percent overall for reading,” he said. The required percentage for kindergarten through eighth grade is 63.4 and 58 percent for grades 9 through 12.

In math, 77.2 percent of the district’s students are at the proficient, advanced or exemplary levels. The requirement is 60 percent for kindergarten through eighth grade students and 46 percent for grades 9 through 12.

On another matter, Fast said six school employees were planning to receive training through Kan-Ed, a state-wide network available to all school districts. Kan-Ed allows schools to have access to one of the largest data banks in the state.

Fast said, “It is a tremendous asset for teachers and students.”

Curt Graves, junior high and high school principal Curt Graves agreed.

“I’m excited about it,” he said.

Fast said he has seen students excited about information they have discovered on the computer.

Graves said that teacher and coach Brian Holloway is helping students prepare a DVD yearbook. The administration would like to encourage technology education.

Use of Kan-Ed services could reduce the danger of computer viruses. Fast said with the “backpack” feature, students do not need to take a computer disk home in order to complete computer work started at school.

It was suggested the school might need a full-time tech person in order to make use of Kan-Ed options. The school currently employs a part-time tech person.

The board turned its attention to wellness issues. Fast said schools will be required by state mandate to have a wellness policy for students and staff by the start of the 2006 school year.

Fast is planning to go to a training meeting, along with Curtis Guhr (high school coach and health and physical education teacher), Barb Banman (lunch supervisor cook) and Ruth Goertzen (family and consumer science teacher).

Community members, administrators and teachers are on a committee that is looking into wellness issues.

Graves said the biggest effect for students might be vending machines. He said he had seen a dairy vending machine that sold items such as cheese sticks and frappucinos in another school.

Board member Richard Drake asked about contracts with pop vendors. Fast said the state wants schools to get away from sugar and carbonation.

In other business, the board:

— heard plans for parent-teacher meetings Oct. 24. School will dismiss at 12:30 p.m. that day, and meetings are scheduled from 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

— heard Fast’s report on plans for Red Ribbon Week, which encourages no drugs and alcohol. He said Michael Mann, a ventriloquist, is planning to give a presentation with an alcohol/drug prevention message Oct. 27 at the elementary school.

— heard that Graves invited parents of a drunk-driving traffic accident victim to speak to students at the junior high and high school building during Red Ribbon Week. Graves hopes to have law enforcement officials speak to the students and give a drug-dog demonstration.

— learned from Fast that Fire Prevention Day had been observed Oct. 10 at the elementary school.

— learned that the elementary school flooring project should be finished soon.

— heard that the total student count is 279.

— heard from Board President Lynel Unrau that Goessel is the largest school in Class 1A.

— accepted appreciation from Coup, who said the new computer software program is helpful for scheduling activities.

— discussed the possibility of purchasing a new bus. Coup suggested that if the new bus has more storage space, it might be possible to use just one bus instead of two for traveling to games, depending on the number of athletes involved.

Fast said the bus drivers would have a chance to try a new bus the following day. Fast invited school board members look at it also.

— heard that the athletics department might be interested in hosting a junior-varsity golf tournament and a cross-country meet sometime in the future. No specific plans have been made.

— made plans for attending the regional meeting at Canton-Galva Oct. 20.

— discussed the board retreat scheduled for Nov. 3.

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