Finances a key agenda for local schools, college

New configurations and classifications, as well as ongoing budget challenges and compromises, were among the changes that occurred in area schools in 2014 as staff found new ways to prepare their students for an ever-changing world.

January

The USD 410 Board of Education approved the reconfiguration of the middle and high schools into one building for grades six to 12 to be called Hillsboro Mid?dle/High School. The decision was made in response to declining enrollment in the district.

Twenty-five Hillsboro High School alums?19 in person and six via electronic means?shared with Hills?boro Middle School students their path to career success and fulfillment during the first-ever day-long Kansas Day College and Career Readi?ness at the school.

February

Hillsboro High became one of few high schools in the state to offer three-dimensional printing, thanks to the MakerBot Replicator 2 in the technology center. Now, students can see, feel and hold their projects as three-dimensional plastic models.

When she spelled ?supplement? correctly, Hillsboro fifth-grader Jessi Dalke claimed the title of best speller in Marion County at the annual bee for elementary and middle school students. Twenty students?two from each of the 10 elementary and middle schools in the county?competed in the bee.

They may have lacked the fancy uniforms, national flags and large fan base experienced at the Winter Olym?pic Games in Sochi, Russia, but students at Marion Elemen?tary School generated enough energy and fun at their own indoor Olym?pics to almost make up for it. Nicki Case, physical education teacher, organized the two-day event by adapting seven Olympic events.

The Goessel school board recognized three people at its Feb. 10 meeting for certificates they received from the Kansas Association of School Boards: John Fast, superintendent and elementary school principal; Denise Nickel, elementary school secretary; and board member James Wiens.

The campaign to build a new center for the arts on the Tabor College campus entered the public phase Feb. 21. The public phase is intended to raise the final $6.25 million of the $16.2 million needed to build and endow the new facility, meet the college?s annual fund needs and provide other campus enhancements.

March

The USD 410 Board of Education reviewed a list of budget cuts totaling $137,550 for 2014-15. Adding that to the $270,977 designated for personnel cuts, the total budget reduction is $408,527.

Hillsboro High School presented its spring play, ?The Curious Savage,? the last weekend of March. Director Bob Woelk described the play as ?a thinking person?s comedy.?

An influenza outbreak in late March among students and faculty at Tabor College seems to have vanished almost as quickly as it appeared. Katrina Hancock, director of communications, said between 30 and 50 students and staff were sick the week after spring break.

April

Second-graders at Marion Elementary School got first-hand exposure to the world of inventors and inventions. As part of a two-week unit on that topic, two inventors from Wichita visited the class and showed them several creations. The two men, Richard Freidenberger and Gary Stecklein, both are members of the Inventors Association of South Cen?tral Kansas.

USD 410 Superintendent Steve Noble proposed a plan that would use a new law to enhance the overall financial impact for the district?while still enabling patrons to see a property-tax decrease. The plan enables a school district to increase its LOB taxing authority, most of which would be matched with statewide tax revenue. The plan, which must be approved by USD 410 patrons, would raise about $156,816.

The construction project at Goessel schools made major headways during 2014. Here a crew pours a concrete floor at the high school in late April. Free Press file photo
The construction project at Goessel schools made major headways during 2014. Here a crew pours a concrete floor at the high school in late April. Free Press file photo

The USD 410 board approved the concept of all-day kindergarten for 2014-15 at its April 14 meeting. The proposal brought a contingency of parents to the meeting, with most favoring staying with half-day kindergarten. Hillsboro Elementary School principal Evan Yoder reported more than 80 percent of families represented at kindergarten screening requested a preference for the full-day option.

May

Tabor College presented diplomas to 137 traditional undergraduates during its 104th commencement May 17 at Joel H. Wiens Stadium in Hillsboro.

Thirty-seven seniors received diplomas May 17 at the 108th commencement for Hillsboro High School. The class produced four valedictorians with a 4.0 grade-point average: Danae Bina, Morganne Hamm, Erin Wiebe and Molly Wiebe.

Almost half of the Marion High School Class of 2014 graduated with honors May 17 at the USD 408 Sports and Aquatic Center. Nine students had a 4.0 GPA: Katey Ehrlich, Kelli Hess, Alicia Maloney, Caitlyn Maloney, Lauren McLinden, Nick Meyer, Zach Robson Amanda Stuchlik and Katelyn Thierolf.

The Canton-Galva High School yearbook and magazine staffs brought home the Kansas Scholastic Press Association 2A State Sweep?stakes Championship for the second time in three years.

Three members of the Marion-Florence FFA Chapter were recognized May 29 for having one of the best career development programs in the state at the 86th Kansas FFA Convention. Nicholas Meyer (Poultry), Clint Croupa (Crop Production) and Alicia Maloney (Small Animal Production and Care) earned state Proficiency Awards.

June

The Kansas State High School Activities Associa?tion ruled that the eight-school Central Kansas League for middle school activities will be expanded to 11 schools with the appointment of Hoisington, Larned and Pratt as members starting in 2014-15. Hillsboro is a member of the CKL.

With about 11 percent of eligible voters in USD 410 participating, district patrons voted June 17 to increase the district?s local option budget percentage from 30 percent to 31 percent by a vote of 218-56. The favorable vote gives the school board the authority to raise the percentage to 33 percent, which will generate around $153,000 in extra funds for local schools?most of it coming from matching state funds.

After placing in the top two at the state level in April, 16-year-old Kalen Moss of Hillsboro took her display depicting the story of Lewis Wickes Hine to the 2014 Kenneth E. Behring National History Contest June 15-19 at the University of Mary?land in College Park. Hine was commissioned by the National Child Labor Committee in 1908 to photograph and document child laborers.

July

Hillsboro High School?s Technology Student Associ?a?tion was the only chapter from Kansas to receive a trophy at the National TSA Con?fer?ence, June 26 to July 1 in Wash?ing?ton, D.C. Three competitors?Erich Herbel, Carson Herbel and Matthew Den?holm?qualified to attend the national conference by placing at the Kan?sas TSA conference earlier in the year.

Tabor College was awarded $190,000 in tax credits by the Kansas Depart?ment of Commerce. Tabor will use them to help fund the new center for the arts on the main campus.

A record four members of the Centre chapter of Future Business Leaders of America earned awards at the organization?s national competition June 28 to July 3 in Nashville, Tenn. Ally Basore placed first in Parliamen?tary Procedures, Nellie Kasse?baum placed third in Electronic Career Portfolio; Bryanna Svoboda and Makenzie Deines, both senior graduates, finished seventh for their community service project?a technology tutoring program at the Herington Hilltop.

Mary Leihy, who will be a junior this fall at Hillsboro High School, received a silver medal for her STAR Events project during the FCCLA National Leader?ship Confer?ence July 6-10 in San Antonio, Texas. Leihy?s project was in the Recycle and Redesign category.

August

Tabor College announced it is partnering with Hesston College to provide HC students with the opportunity to continue their education after receiving a two-year degree. The agreement will allow eligible students graduating with an associate of arts degree or an associate of science degree from Hesston College to enter Tabor College as juniors.

Shin-hee Chin, Tabor College associate professor of art and design, was featured in the summer edition of ?Surface Design,? a leading international publication in the field of design, fiber and textile arts.

A group of parents are trying to raise funds to rebuild the Hillsboro Elemen?tary School playground. With the addition of a preschool program a couple of years ago, the playground designated for kindergartners and first-graders is undersized. Children play on a surface of loose rock, and their sand-pile area gets washed out by drainage water after heavy rains.

Daniel Kunantaev, a 2010 graduate of Hillsboro High School, worked as an intern in Sen. Pat Roberts? Wash?ing?ton, D.C., office from July 7 through Aug. 9. Kunantaev is a second-semester junior at Texas Christian Univer?sity.

Rod Hamm, an alumnus of Tabor College from Hillsboro, has been named the college?s director of alumni relations.

Miriam Klie?wer is the new coordinator for the Life?long Learning program at Tabor. She succeeds Connie Isaac, who retired in May after serving in the position for 20 years.

September

More than 400 people attended this year?s ?Big Truck Night? at Hillsboro Elementary School. Lori Soo Hoo, director of Marion County Parents as Teachers, said the turnout represented about 119 family units, which was a higher turnout than last year.

The Goessel school board heard at its Sept. 8 meeting that the district has a head count of 287 students for this school year, an increase of 31 students since 2009. Superintendent John Fast said Goessel has seen steady growth the past five years.

Tabor College student enrollment for the 2014 fall semester has increased overall by 4 percent with 766 students enrolled now, com?pared to 736 in 2013, according to the registrar?s office.

Newsweek named Marion High School as one of the top 500 schools in the country. Newsweek said the purpose of the rankings is to identify public high schools in the U.S. that do the best job of preparing students for college and overcoming the obstacles posed by socioeconomic inequality.

Hillsboro High School is back in Class 3A following the announcement from the Kansas State High School Activities Associa?tion of the classification rosters for 2014-15.

October

Kimberly Krull, Butler Community College president, was on site to congratulate Amy Kjellin, BCC Marion site director, on the new campus location at the Hill Building, Marion High School, 701 E. Main St.

Hillsboro Com?munity Foundation announced it will award a grant of $25,750 toward the HES playground project.

Goessel-USD 411 is one of four districts across the state to receive a Bronze Award and $1,000 from the Kansas State Department of Educa?tion for increasing participation in its breakfast program over the past school year.

Centre Superinten?dent Brian Smith said 129 students in grades five through 12 participated in the district?s first community service day Oct. 8. Students took on projects in Tampa, Pilsen, Ramona, Burton and Lost Springs.

Goessel High School received a $3,000 grant Oct. 21 from the Westar Energy Foundation to help fund a robotics program titled ?Photovores: Light-Eating Robots.? The grant was the largest awarded to a Kansas high school for the foundation?s STEM (Science, Tech?nology, Engineering, Mathe??matics) program.

November

Marion-Florence FFA members placed eighth at the National Agriculture Technology and Mechanical Systems Career Develop?ment Event while at the 87th National FFA Con?vention in Louisville, Ky. The members were Nicholas Meyer, Clint Kroupa, Raleigh Kroupa and Bret Voth.

The USD 410 board authorized $55,000 from the capital outlay fund at its Nov. 10 regular meeting toward the playground renovation project at Hillsboro Elemen?tary School. The board also approved Athco of Lenexa as the builder and a project budget of $185,000.

The Goessel school board honored Lois Janzen during its Nov. 10 meeting. Janzen is retiring after 46 years of driving a school bus for the district. The board presented Janzen with a plaque.

Hillsboro High School students used the last half-day of school prior to their Thanksgiving break to serve the community by raking for residents. In about two hours, students cleared 60 residential yards, according to Jakob Hanschu, student body president.

December

Tabor College?s Signa?ture Campaign received a major boost to its fundraising efforts with confirmation that the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation in Tulsa, Okla., will donate a $1 million gift to the school for the Center for the Arts. Nearly 1,000 donors have contributed to the $8 million needed to receive the Mabee Founda?tion gift.

The initiative to develop a school farm behind Hills?boro Elementary School met with strong resistance from several residents and land?owners from the neighborhood during a meeting of the Hills?boro Planning Commis?sion. Around 20 people crowded into the meeting room either to present the project, object to it, or observe the interaction. By the end of the 21?2-hour meeting, the com?mission tabled the issue with the intent of having a second public hearing Jan. 29.