Goessel board calls for letters to state

During the Feb. 8 school board meeting Goessel superintendent John Fast encouraged board members and residents to write letters, call or e-mail state legislators on behalf of funding for the school district and public schools in general.

Board member James Wiens said he has been contacting legislators. He said he was planning a trip to Topeka to meet with legislators Jay Emler and Bob Brookens. Wiens echoed Fast?s concern and also encouraged the community to contact legislators.

Fast said he has made community presentations at three area churches and the elementary school, outlining the seriousness of the economic situation and the impact budget cuts could have on small schools and communities.

Representatives of Bethesda Home were also involved in some of the presentations.

Board members Darla Meysing and Lynnette Duerksen commended Fast for his effort.

?You went to a lot of work,? Duerksen said.

Roof repair

On another matter, the board spent a considerable amount of time discussing roof damage that the school buildings sustained in the July 8, 2009, hail storm.

Kevin Wray of Wray Roofing, and his attorney, James Gillmore, attended the meeting to help the board find options for dealing with the school?s insurance company.

Fast said he has been working with the insurance company for months. The EMASCO insurance company does not want to pay to re-roof the school buildings, he said.

Fast had contacted the State Insurance Commission for help, but received a letter from Scott Smith of the Consumer Assistance Division stating that the State Insurance Commission will not be able to resolve the matter.

Gillmore provided a stack of photographs of the school?s roofs, along with samples of the damaged roofing.

?You have four kinds of roofs on your building,? he said. ?These roofs have various undercoverings.?

Gillmore said the protective surface is broken because of the hail. He disagreed with the insurance company that a ?mop and patch? procedure would be sufficient. It would not take care of mold and leak problems.

Wray added, ?Every one of your roofs has damage. They?re getting water in.?

Wray said the urethane roof has fractures 2 inches deep. He estimated the damage at $600,000 to $700,000. He recognized the district cannot afford that expense without help from insurance.

Wray said at first the insurance company said there was no damage. Then the company said there was damage but no breaks. Then the company said there were chips but not breaks.

But Wray said water pockets have developed everywhere the roofs were hit by hail. Fast said he had gone up onto a roof with Wray and saw them. Water is getting underneath the roofing at places.

Gillmore said the freezing and thawing of winter adds to the hail damage.

Wray said screws will start to rust; screws attach to plates, and a situation called ?conduction? results. Consequently, Wray added, the roofs cannot be repaired; they must be replaced.

But Wray offered to repair the roof only if the school board wished to do so in order to receive some insurance assistance. Wray said he cannot guarantee a repair job.

?I deal a lot with schools and cities,? he said. He has been in business for 32 years.

?I do about 40 percent of the schools in Kansas,? he said.

The insurance company that Goessel uses insures about 80 percent of the state?s schools. He said he feels strongly that the insurance company is taking advantage of small schools.

Wray is making arrangements for another engineer and roofer to examine the roofs. The board will wait until then to make a roofing decision.

Other business

In other business, the board:

? accepted the resignation of band teacher Mike Connell, who has taught at Goessel for three years. Connell plans to retire.

Fast commended his work: ?He delivered a really strong music program.? Board chair Mary Rosfeld noted that Connell has taught for a total of 44 years.

? approved the addition of seven light boxes for the parking areas at the high school. Fast stressed the additional light is needed for safety.

? heard about a gardening proposal that is funded by a state-wide nutrition program.

Fast said students participate in the gardening process, and the food can be used in the school cafeteria. A ?master gardener? from Whispering Cottonwood Farms of Salina would come twice a week, even in winter, to work with students.

The program would cost $1,900 per year. Fast thought it would be a ?great hands-on science project.?

Board member Maynard Knepp agreed: ?That sounds great.?

? discussed the need for 50 computers in the elementary school lab. Refurbished computers are available for $229 each.

? heard about coming events at the elementary school, including a musical and a family reading night.

? heard Marc Grout, junior/senior high school principal, report that Goessel would host the state Scholars Bowl competition, but the Goessel team did not qualify for it. He said the junior high basketball season is over. He mentioned the Marion County Spelling Bee and the science fair.

? approved a request from FFA sponsor John Bergin to allow an out-of-state trip to Oklahoma for a horse-judging competition. FFA will pay all of the costs.

? heard the Marion County Special Education Cooperative report from board member Dan Miller. He said that resignations had been approved and appointments had been made.

?The building is paid for,? Miller said. He reported that the Peabody-Burns school district has asked to withdraw from the MCSEC.

Miller requested an executive session to discuss MCSEC personnel. He said a Feb. 3 special meeting was called to address budget and financial issues, as well as personnel cuts.

? heard that Fast and business administrator Chet Roberts had gone to Topeka to discuss finances.

?Right now, we?re OK, probably one of the few districts that are,? Roberts said. But he cautioned the board: ?Good times don?t last forever…. You better have a plan.?

? heard Fast commend school carpenters for the wooden tables they had made for the library. If the school had ordered the tables ready-made, they would have cost four times as much.

? briefly discussed the calendar for the 2010-11 school year. If that calendar is approved, school would begin Aug. 26.

The administration has been discussing the calendar with teachers. Meysing asked if sports camps would be in June again. Grout answered, ?That would be the plan.?

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