The Goessel school board heard an update from Superintendent John Fast at its March 11 meeting about the upcoming bond election for the KIDS project: Keep Improving District Schools.
“The committee is very positive,” Fast said.
A number of community meetings have already been held to inform the public of the building and remodeling needs. Another meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, in the high school gym. Building tours will be available that evening, as well as refreshments.
Fast said a tri-fold display explaining the school needs has been set up at various places in the community, including the bank, credit union, Keith’s Foods, city building and the library.
He also showed the board the flier that would be mailed to every household in the school district. Fast said 700 copies of the flier had been printed.
The election will be for a $3.3 million bond issue to upgrade the science, agricultural education and family and consumer science departments at the high school building, as well as improvements for the art and weight rooms.
Improvements at the elementary school would include constructing a storm shelter and renovating the boys’ restroom. The oldest part of the junior/senior high school needs repairs to maintain the structural integrity of the building. Security at both buildings needs to be improved.
Fast has explained that state aid is currently available for such a project but might not be available in the future.
FACT and PAT
Turning its attention to other matters, the board heard presentations from FACT (Families and Communities Together) and PAT (Parents as Teachers) representatives.
Ashley Gann explained that FACT is a county-wide non-profit program. She said FACT concentrates 70 percent on early childhood and 20 percent on substance abuse prevention.
Gann said FACT contracts with PAT and provides a connection to county agencies. She said FACT works with ministerial alliances to find financial assistance to families in need. She said Linda Ewert, pastor at Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church near Goessel, is on the FACT board.
USD 411 Board chairman Dan Miller asked about needs in the county and the funding available. Gann said financial help is grant-funded and can only help a family up to $100 in a 12-month period.
“We just help the best we can,” she said.
Asked about referrals by board member Maynard Knepp, Gann said she receives referrals from schools, PAT, churches and other sources.
Gann mentioned the Circles of Marion County initiative that has been launched to help people who want to get out of poverty.
Miller commended Gann for FACT’s “admirable work,” adding, “There must be some frustrations.”
The board approved USD 411’s $2,500 designation for FACT.
PAT director Lori Soo Hoo said the program is a vital support for “common core” education as it relates to math and language arts and literacy.
According to Soo Hoo, 75 percent of all connections in the brain are made in the first three years, before children reach kindergarten age. She said literacy is important from the beginning of a child’s life. At birth, babies see black, white and red. She showed examples of home-made books and toys that parents can make themselves. She said educational toys can be checked out from PAT.
Soo Hoo encourages parents to help their children notice signs and to make use of magazines and newspapers. She encourages parents to use public libraries and said PAT has a mobile library. She suggested imbedding math into a child’s day by sorting and classifying items and emphasizing shape, color and size concepts with young children.
“We do follow a curriculum,” she said. “Our goal is to share the most current information available to us.”
According to Soo Hoo, PAT provides hearing, vision and health screening. Thirteen children from 11 families in the Goessel school district are currently participating in PAT.
Soo Hoo said PAT is becoming bilingual and provides many things in Spanish.
Bryant Miller, a Goessel High School graduate and current K-State student who is involved in an internship with PAT this semester, attended the meeting with Soo Hoo. He described what he is doing with the PAT website. He said it will be linked to school websites.
Fast commended Soo Hoo and Miller for their work. The board approved the $3,413 USD 411 assessment for PAT.
In other business, the board:
• accepted the resignation of K-12 art teacher Brian Stucky, who plans to retire at the end of the school year. He has taught 33 years at Goessel, following four years at Buhler. Stucky has also coached basketball and track and has been the student council sponsor.
Fast commended his “wealth of information” as “practically a walking institute.” Fast said Stucky has been a positive liaison to the community and has invested recent energy on the KIDS committee. He plans to continue to advocate for the school.
• approved the resignation of Renae Peters, half-time junior high/high school choir and Elbiata vocal music teacher. She also directed the high school musical. Peters said she would like to spend more time with her family.
“She has been a remarkable, outstanding instructor for us,” Fast said. “We will miss her.”
• heard a report from Morris Ewert, bus driver and part-time elementary school custodian. He drives the northeast bus route. He also cleans and locks up at the school. Ewert said he wanted to be involved in the community and enjoys attending school activities. He has enjoyed learning to know the children and said that children greet him in the hall. “It’s a pleasant surprise,” he said, “and I’ve enjoyed that.”
• commended Scott Boden, junior/senior high school principal, for his YouTube PowerPoint presentation about the bond issue.
• discussed the need for day care in the community, calling it one of the highest needs. Fast, Joni Smith, Linda Ewert, Gayle Voth, Eric Schrag and Rachel Boden had toured day care facilities related to a rest home, a church and a school.
Fast said it is difficult for a school district to provide preschool/day care service and “keep it in the black.” Schools have to charge a fee in order to provide those services.
• heard from Fast that the elementary school had received $633 from the boxtop collection project and will use the money for a trip to Cow Town in Wichita. He expressed appreciation to all who collect boxtops for the school.
• heard that grade school librarian Russel Pauls and Title I teacher Mary Schmidt were planning a circus theme for family reading night at the grade school.
• heard that 15 students are participating in golf this spring and 78 in track (38 high school and 40 junior high).
• heard that enrollment is projected to be steady for next school year.