Goessel School Board approves new curriculum

The Goessel school board met on May 10 and listened to junior high math and science teacher Sheri Sells describe new science curriculum that she is considering for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes that she teaches.

The new curriculum has 145 lessons for 45 minutes each. Sells said the first lesson at each grade level establishes the guidelines; it asks what claims the student is making and what evidence the student finds.

Sells said the curriculum includes STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities, also physical science, life science, and earth science. It includes unit, chapter, and lesson activities and requires students to read, talk, and write about the information.

Sells said the teacher kits are huge and need storage space. The total curriculum price is $21,562.48 and includes the $3,200 on-site training fee. The board approved the total purchase and will follow Sells’ suggestion to spread out the purchase over three years, beginning with the 6th grade curriculum the first year (for a cost of $5,364, plus the training), 7th grade the next year, followed by 8th grade the third year.

Therefore, the current junior high students will continue with the same curriculum they have been using. The new curriculum will begin with next year’s 6th grade students. Sells said she had developed her current curriculum from Next Generation. She is using Big Ideas math curriculum this year.

Junior high/high school principal Scott Boden said the curriculum fits well with KESA (Kansas Education Systems Accreditation) guidelines. “This is really a big step forward in that regard,” he said.

Turning their attention to the matter of summer school, Sells told the board her plans for the summer session. She said she has confirmation from 16 students who are planning to attend.

Sells is planning science labs and would like to include lava lamps and making gak but no homework. Summer school will be three weeks. In addition to the classroom work, Sells is planning a field trip to Hutchinson for each of those weeks. She is hoping to take the students to Strataca (the salt mine), Dillon Nature Center, the Cosmosphere (which includes Goddard’s lab), and the wastewater system lab. She would like for the students to see how ultraviolet light kills bacteria at the wastewater plant.

Sells said paras are helping with plans for summer school.

Fifth grade teacher Emily Gibson also attended the meeting and told the board about Starbase, which is a 5-day program of STEM curriculum at Salina. It is a hands-on, project-based curriculum, primarily for 5th graders, designed to fit state assessment standards. It is a free program, and schools provide their own transportation. Gibson is planning to take her students on October 4, 11, and 25, also November 1 and 4. Board member Bryant Miller commented, “It’s a really cool program.”

In other business, the board:

* approved the resignation of superintendent Amanda Lowrance at a special board meeting on April 27. Lowrance wrote: “I have enjoyed working with the Goessel BOE, staff, students, and parents and being given the opportunity to be a small part of the many successes occurring at Goessel in my first year as a superintendent.”

* approved a contract with Heidi Claassen for second grade.

* voted to end the mask mandate on May 19 and decided to make masks optional for summer school.

* approved the $6,049.05 fee for Character Strong social emotional learning K-12 curriculum. The board also approved the $8,250 fee for Panorama social emotional screening. Lowrance said the state requires schools to teach social emotional skills.

* approved the purchase of seven additional cheerleading uniforms. Boden commended Michelle Meyer for her work with cheerleaders. Boden said the cheerleading team will be expanded to 15 students next year.

* heard a Marion County Special Education Cooperative report from Miller. He said local assessments will increase by four or five percent, which is less than previous years. He mentioned a Project Search presentation. Four students in the county plan to be involved next school year.

* heard a legislative report from Kyle Funk. He said there could be a 5.2 or 5.3% increase for schools.

* listened to board member Ben Schrag’s report of the April 23 meet and confer meeting. He said non-athletic extra duty pay had been discussed, as well as contract time.

* discussed door greeters and lunch time duty.

* heard gratitude from Boden to all who help with school activities. “It is great that we are busy,” he said, compared to a year ago. He also said, “At the same time, it is exhausting.”

* heard from Boden that state assessments went very well.

* heard of retirement recognition for high school cook Nancy Schmidt and first grade teacher Barb Goering.

* heard that high school graduation would be outside.

* approved an Elbiata trip to Kansas City May 22 and 23.

* approved a new oven for the grade school. Lowrance said the current oven is close to 30 years old and has been burning food at the back of the oven. A new oven at the junior high/high school building is already in place. Boden said the new oven at that building has been a huge improvement.

* approved the financial statements of $145,810.60.

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