Goessel School Board honors long-time board member

The Dec. 11 Goessel school board meeting was the last one for long-time board member Maynard Knepp, who has seen many changes in his 33 years on the board. He was involved from the beginning of The Learning Consortium years ago, and he was involved when it ended earlier this year. TLC was a cooperation of Goessel, Moundridge, Hesston and Canton-Galva schools, connected by fiber optics. Knepp was on the board when Hutchinson Community College began offering college-level courses for high school students.

He was on the board for building projects. A new gym, music room and classrooms were added at the high school in the 1990s. The old high school was remodeled and became the current junior high. The old gym became an auditorium.

Knepp was still on the board when kindergarten became all-day and preschool was added. He was part of the decision to add a preschool classroom, which doubles as a storm shelter at the grade school.

Knepp was on the board through numerous administrative and staff changes.

In recent years, Knepp has represented Goessel on the Marion County Special Education Cooperative board.

Knepp and his wife Carol Duerksen have been active in the student exchange program. They hosted 24 students in their home through the years and helped find host families for many others.

Board chair Kelly Booton recognized Knepp’s many years on the board and expressed appreciation for “his dedication to the district and community.” The board made plans to honor Knepp at the employee Christmas dinner on Dec. 16. Board member Sara Hiebert noted Knepp’s Amish childhood, the Pennsylvania Dutch language he spoke as he was growing up and his 1st-8th grade education. Therefore junior high/high school principal Scott Boden presented Knepp an “Honorary Diploma,” which Boden said is “a symbol of our deep appreciation for his tireless efforts, wisdom and dedication…” and represents “the profound impact” Knepp has had on many students.

Board member Ben Schrag said that Knepp is always “engaging with people” and “always learning from the world.”

Superintendent/K-5 principal Mark Crawford offered “heartfelt recognition” and noted Knepp’s “highest standards of leadership, unwavering commitment and a genuine passion for the betterment of education” and said that Knepp is “truly a special leader, servant and scholar.”

On another matter, the board held a public hearing and then voted to approve the non-resident student policy that has been discussed at numerous previous board meetings. Crawford said USD 411 “has followed all the steps to ensure compliance” with the new state law.

According to the policy, out-of-district students would need to pass at least five subjects in a semester, have no more than two suspensions and no more than 12 excused absences in a school year.

The new state mandate stipulates that out-of-district students cannot be denied if space is available, except if a student was expelled from the previous school. However, a student can be denied after the first year if the above goals have not been met.

In other business, the board:

* heard from Boden that the community service day before Thanksgiving had included farm and home projects, school grounds and maintenance, leaf raking in the community and helping at Bethesda Home, New Hope Shelter and the Mennonite Central Committee center.

* heard that the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for the high school gym will be completed soon.

* discussed a possible administrative change for the 2024-25 school year. Crawford has explained that the combined superintendent/elementary principal position might be better as a part-time superintendent and full-time principal. Board members offered comments and insight. Hiebert, Pat Flaming, Kyle Funk and Bryant Miller joined the discussion and mentioned numerous needs. Schrag noted Goessel’s efficiency and “lean” staff and budget.

* approved the financial statements of $98,984.59.

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