Goessel board contemplates change in league affiliation

The Goessel school board heard Superintendent John Fast and Principal Marc Grout explain the current league situation during the board?s March 9 meeting.

?There are many changes taking place throughout the state,? Grout said.

Changes in the Mid-Central Activities Association has produced changes in the Heart of America league, of which Goessel is a member.

?We are in the process of facing some league changes, regardless of whether we stay or whether we leave,? Fast said.

?The history of this league (HOA) has been long,? Fast said. ?We were one of the founding schools. It has been a very effective and excellent league…. It has set an example of excellence in academics, activities, and athletics…. The HOA has been good to us through the years.?

HOA league presidents are appointed on a rotating basis. This year, Fast is president of the league superintendents, and Grout is president of the principals.

Three of the HOA schools are Class 1A. The others are all larger.

?I?ve seen this year from the 3A schools a push to bring in large schools,? Fast said.

He asked the league to also bring in smaller schools. The Goessel administration suggested expanding the HOA league into two divisions, a larger-school division and a smaller-school division.

?There?s adamant opposition to that,? Fast said. ?The larger schools only want to add larger schools.?

Grout agreed that there is no willingness to keep the league balanced between large and small schools.

?We?ve basically been forced to make a decision,? he said.

Fast said the schools located near larger urban areas are growing while rural areas are experiencing a declining enrollment.

Fast?s projections indicated that enrollment in Goessel?s grades 10, 11 and 12 will likely drop by 30 students over the next six years. While 80 students are currently enrolled in those three grades, that number is likely to drop to 49 students six years from now.

?This situation will make it very difficult for our junior high and high school students to compete on a level field against the larger schools in the coming years,? he said.

Enrollment is likely to increase after those six years, Fast added.

The administration is exploring the option of forming a new league. When Fast and Grout asked the board for its direction, member Maynard Knepp affirmed the administration?s suggestion to form a new league, to ?put our energy where it?s a better value to us…. I hate to see it, but I think it?s proactive.?

Board member Darla Meysing agreed: ?I think it?s time to start something new.?

Board chairman Lynel Unrau said: ?It?s a little disappointing how this has come about…. It?s hard to leave.?

He said the HOA was formed in about 1975, and Goessel was one of the core schools.

?I hope we don?t lose sight of academics,? he added. He agreed with Knepp: ?You control your own destiny when you are proactive.?

Although no formal decision has been made regarding the formation of a new league with Goessel, other schools that might be interested include Centre, Wakefield, Peabody, Little River, Hope, White City, Elyria Christian and Solomon.

Grout said some of the new schools might require longer travel, but the distance issue could be balanced by scheduling some closer non-league ball games.

Fast said Goessel can continue to schedule games with traditional rivals, whether or not they are in the same league.

Athletic director/coach Justin Coup suggested the possibility of playing junior high and high school games on the same night with the more distant schools. Music, forensics and Scholar?s Bowl league implications were also mentioned.

Services for visually impaired

The board heard Susan Lever-Wallace and Vickie Unrau explain the services that are offered to a blind student at Goessel. ?It really makes me think how valuable sight is,? Unrau said.

Lever-Wallace added, ?We learn 85 percent of what we learn through our vision.? She said the blind student is expected to fully participate in everything Goessel has to offer, adding,

?He is living in a sighted world…. There?s something very positive about keeping kids in their local schools. This is a perfect school for him.?

She said 70 percent of vision-impaired children are served by their home school. According to Lever-Wallace, Kansas has 49 teachers for 370 vision-impaired students in grades K-12, which means that some schools are not served.

Unrau has worked for 15 years as a para at Goessel and has been working with visually impaired students for the past two years.

?I take print and transcribe it into braille,? she said. ?Every?thing you see in print can be transcribed to braille using six dots.?

She is taking a class to learn how to transcribe books.

Other business

In other business, the board:

n accepted the resignation of Rod Boese as bus driver, effective at the end of the school year, although he will continue his custodial duties with the district. Unrau thanked Boese for his years of service and mentioned the good rapport he shared with students.

n agreed to allow two buses to take the band to the state basketball tournament in Hays to support the Goessel boys? basketball team. Fast said it was not an easy decision ?in the midst of cost-cutting.? Ultimately, it was the concern for safety that swayed his decision.

When students were asked if they would go, whether or not the school provided a bus, 80 to 90 percent said yes. At $1 per mile, Fast estimated it would cost $750 a day for the buses.

It was suggested that parents could make a donation to the school to help defray the cost.

n heard from Fast that Friday, Sept. 25, and Sunday, Sept. 27, have been designated for the elementary school?s 50th anniversary celebration. The community harvest festival will be Saturday, Sept. 26.

n heard Grout describe recent accomplishments by students in basketball, science fair, robotics, music and automotive technology.

n heard Fast say that a free ?conscious discipline workshop? by Cheri Ochs Wheeler from Prairie View is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 28. Susie Bedford and Sara Grout will coordinate child care.

n heard Fast commend board clerk Patsy Schmidt and secretaries Denise Nickel and Debbie Schrag for their ?remarkable job? in providing the ?clean audit? that was done recently by Wanda Nelson.

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