Goessel school board hears of district’s wildlife learning site

Goessel first-grade teacher Barb Goering and fourth-grade teacher Tom Krehbiel attended the Jan. 14 school board meeting to explain the Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site program sponsored by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

Goering credited junior high science teacher Bruce Stucky for his work in setting up the Goessel site some years ago. According to Goering, the goal of OWLS sites is to increase interaction between students and the outdoor world.

Krehbiel showed the curriculum that is involved with the OWLS project and said it coordinates with state assessments.

Goering and Krehbiel described various activities that teachers use to integrate the OWLS site into their classroom work.

?The kids really enjoy going out there,? Krehbiel said.

?We?ve seen more class activity out there,? Goering added.

For example, elementary teachers have taken their students out to the site to read. Some classes have been involved with counting butterflies in the monarch migration.

Krehbiel said classes had chosen perennial plants to add to the site and were asked to find flowers that bloom in the different seasons.

Goering said birds are always in the bird house, including bluebirds, in the last two years.

Krehbiel said some grass had taken over through the years. Brad Guhr of Dyck Arboretum came and helped clean out the area.

Board member Mary Rosfeld asked, ?Do junior high and high school students use it??

Goering said they do, and explained that teacher Donna O?Neill?s high school chemistry students had taken water samples for testing. Krehbiel added that water access for wildlife is one stipulation for OWLS sites.

Rosfeld commended them for their work on the project. John Fast, superintendent and elemen?tary principal, told the board that librarian Russell Pauls ?has done a really good job of getting books about nature for the library.?

The OWLS committee consists of teachers, administration, custodian, students and community members: Tom Kreh?biel, Barb Goering, Bruce Stucky, John Fast, Donna O'Neill, Londell Duerksen, Alicen Meysing, Kendra Flaming, Lisa Hoffman and Zane Unrau.

In other business, the board:

  • heard from Fast that elementary classes will observe Kansas Day on Jan. 29. ?Each class usually has some special projects,? he said.

  • was reminded that the elementary school?s 50th anniversary is coming up in 18 months.

  • heard Marc Grout, junior and senior high school principal, report on recent student accomplishments. He said two high school football players were selected for football honors. The boys? and girls? varsity basketball teams won the first Goessel Bluebird Classic Tournament, which began Dec. 3 but was not finished until Jan. 5 due to inclement weather. Grout recognized coach Justin Coup for organizing the event.

  • heard that the Goessel Scholar?s Bowl teams placed second and third at the Heart of America league tournament. Goessel was scheduled to host a tournament Jan. 19.

  • heard from Grout that three high school band students and two choir members have been selected to perform in the Kansas Music Educators Asso?ciation concerts in February.

  • discussed calendar plans for the 2008-09 school year. Fast said he has met with staff and asked for their input. They told him they like a whole week for spring break, and different options had been discussed, whether to align spring break with other high schools or to keep it the same as Hutchinson Community College since some students take on-line classes from HCC. ?I can guarantee you there is no way to please everyone,? Fast said.

  • heard board member Darla Meysing?s report on the Marion County Special Education Cooperative. She said a phone meeting to pay bills had been scheduled since there was no electricity at the time of the regular meeting.

  • discussed capital outlay needs, including junior high gym bleachers and floor, junior high locker rooms, elementary school tornado shelter, technology, track maintenance and transportation needs. Treasurer Chet Roberts said he thinks most of the projects could be done in the next two years, although enrollment projections show a possible decrease next year. Fast estimated enrollment might be down by five or six students.

  • authorized the administration to move forward with bleachers for the junior high gym. Fast said there are safety concerns with the current bleachers, which were installed when the gym was built in 1970. Also, they are difficult to move.

    He estimated new motorized bleachers, which will include handrails, will cost $76,000. The junior high gym floor needs to be refinished at an estimated cost of $15,000. Work will begin after basketball season.

  • heard work is progressing on the junior high locker room walls and floor.

  • heard it might cost the district $25,000 for a tornado shelter at the elementary school, with a grant providing the rest.

  • heard it would take about $30,000 to upgrade student and teacher computer work stations. Roberts said the update is essential since the computer software is so outdated that students cannot bring work they have done at home and finish it on school computers. Fast said the computer hardware is acceptable.

  • heard the first phase of the track maintenance plan has been completed. The second phase will be done in 2009. Fast suggested a plan for making the entrance to the track/football stadium more accessible.

  • discussed improving the staff parking lot and driveway east of the high school.

  • reviewed district-owned vehicles. Fast had taken pictures and documented mileage, age and condition of every bus, car, van and suburban owned by USD 411.

    ?We currently have four route buses,? he said. He used October to compare bus usage. One bus put on 2,400 miles during the month. Fast said the oldest substitute bus is a 1991 model.

    ?Did you say at the last meeting that sometimes there?s no vehicle available?? Meysing asked.

    Fast said there have been days that all the regular and substitute buses were in use, and all the drivers (regular and substitute) were driving. Fast urged the board not to wait too long to buy a new bus.

  • heard Fast say the mini bus is rarely used anymore because it is not reliable, and no one wants to drive it. Also, he said cross-country and golf numbers have increased to the point that the mini bus is not big enough for those teams. The board considered various options.

  • heard a newer car had been purchased for $9,000 to be used for Head Start and driver?s education.

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