Goessel School Board hears appreciation for teachers

The Goessel school board met on September 14 and heard a report about the beginning of school. Junior high/high school principal Scott Boden said that it took “lots of extra work” to plan the school year in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus. He noted the extra work for teachers to teach in-person and remote at the same time. Although it is difficult, Boden said that teachers are willing to do what they need to do. “I want to clearly express appreciation to staff,” he said, adding that they are “awesome.” Superintendent/elementary principal Amanda Lowrance told the board that Goessel is “working hard” to follow social distancing and mask guidelines, as well as other precautions, in school and at events.

Boden said, “We had activities. That in itself is a celebration.” He said that all schools are checking the temperatures of their own students before leaving for events, in an effort to prevent spread of the coronavirus between schools.

Boden reported that events have been live-streamed. “We have the infrastructure” for live streaming, he said. Board member Pat Flaming said that people have expressed appreciation for the live- stream. Boden agreed; he said the school had received lots of affirmation for it.

The board was updated on coronavirus precautions. Five thermometers have been purchased, two for entrances at the elementary school and three at the junior high/high school.

Lowrance reviewed CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) and SPARK (Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas) money that is still available for the school. The board approved the use of CARES and SPARK money to purchase additional automatic sinks and more water bottle fillers. Board member Maynard Knepp affirmed the decision, citing the importance to “Make sure the high traffic areas are covered.” Flaming commented, “I think we’re taking good steps,” doing a good job of monitoring the situation.

Lowrance informed the board that additional money is available from the United States Department of Agriculture. It is for schools that filled out and submitted an application. The money is to be used for free lunches for all students through December 31 or until funds run out. Lowrance emphasized that free lunches are for all students, regardless of family income. Students who are participating in the remote learning option are also eligible for free lunches. Lowrance said that Goessel was approved for offering free lunches starting on September 11. The board heard how lunch seating is different for students this year, in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Lowrance and the board expressed support for Goessel’s school lunch program, which is provided by cooks at the school, not pre-packaged meals by a food management contractor.

It was noted that Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas Commissioner of Education, had commented, “Everyone was hopeful that COVID would just go away.” However, he said it is not going away. He advised schools to be prepared. Knepp agreed; he had heard from a doctor that we are one-quarter of the way through the pandemic.

Turning their attention to another matter, the board heard from Lowrance and board member Sara Hiebert about The Learning Consortium annual in-person meeting that they had attended. Although Lowrance and Hiebert are both new on TLC this year, Lowrance was asked to lead the meeting. She said she asked lots of questions. Hiebert said TLC is considering the possibility of dissolving. In addition to Goessel, the other schools in the consortium are Moundridge, Hesston, and Canton-Galva. Board member Kyle Funk wondered, “Who will own the fiber if it is dissolved?” Knepp said some of it had already been sold to Moundridge Telephone Company.

In other business, the board:

* heard that staff reopening in-service sessions had included bullying, suicide prevention, bloodborne pathogens, sexual harassment, emergency safety interventions, homeless students and mandated reporting, trauma, mental health, lesson planning for remote learning, academic skills, and social distancing.

* approved a full-time contract for Tom Zogelman. He has been a substitute teacher and junior high basketball coach. His additional duties will include monitoring high school students in the library who are enrolled in college classes. He will be available to help with remote learners. He is also doing some tutoring and will continue to substitute as needed. He also monitors one of the temperature stations at the high school.

* approved Libby Schrag as school nurse. This is a new position. The school has not had a nurse previously.

* approved hiring an additional assistant football coach. Boden reported that 29 high school students are participating in football, as well as 15 junior high students. Seventeen high school students and 20 junior high students are playing volleyball. Twelve high school students are participating in cross country. Eight high school students are participating as cheerleaders.

* heard about hail damage repair. Lowrance had been on the roof to inspect the repair. She contacted the contractor about some guttering that had not been done yet.

* talked about drainage issues on the east side of the high school and the west side of the grade school.

* heard from Lowrance that no-slip strips had been ordered for junior high gym steps and also for steps leading up to the elementary school stage.

* discussed KESA (Kansas Education Systems Accreditation). Lowrance explained that it is a five year program, and Goessel is in the fifth year.

* heard that the air conditioning units at the elementary school music room and kitchen need to be replaced. They are both 25 years old.

* approved the financial statements of $ $90,860.22