Goessel board hears of new ?Wheat State? activities league

The Goessel school board heard at its April 13 meeting that a new league has officially been formed called the Wheat State League.

Marc Grout, junior high/high school principal, said the new league already has nine members, with one more as a possibility.

Besides Goessel, the league also includes Elyria, Little River, Peabody-Burns, Centre, Hope, White City, Solomon and Wakefield. Non-league games would still include schools such as Moundridge and Inman.

Grout said the hope is to limit junior high games to one night per week. Dave Johnson will be the league commissioner.

On another matter, the board approved a ?compressed? calendar for the 2009-10 school year. By extending every school day by 10 minutes, the district will be able to shorten the school year by 10 days.

The current school year includes 179 days, compared to the proposed calendar for next year, which includes 169 days. Therefore, the district will be able to save money, considering looming budget cuts.

John Fast, superintendent and elementary principal, emphasized that the amount of instructional time will remain the same.

Aug. 27 will be the first day of school and May 18, 2010, will be the last. School will be dismissed at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 23, Oct. 16 and 26, Nov. 25, Dec. 22, Jan. 27 and March 12.

School will not be in session Sept. 7 (Labor Day), Oct. 30, Dec. 23 through Jan. 4 (Christmas break), Feb. 15, March 15-19 (spring break) and April 2 and 5 (Easter break).

Grout said regional and state track meets will be contested after school is over.

Board member Lynette Duerksen said, ?Mr. Fast has done a lot of work on this.?

Fast said, ?There?s no way to please everyone.?

Fast said that a lot of Class 1A and 2A schools are following a similar calendar.

The board listened to Sara Grout, who is a licensed master of social work with degrees from Bethel College and KU.

?I have the best job in the world,? she said, adding that April is child-abuse prevention month. Previously, Grout worked in adoptions, foster care, child welfare and at Prairie View. This is her first school social work position.

She said she helps teachers with evaluations and behavior modification plans and also helps children with emotional and social well-being issues, as well as autism. She is an advocate and counselor for children.

Grout said she does some individual and group counseling and connects teachers with mental health agencies. She provides crisis help and conducts home visits when necessary.

Grout also communicates with Social and Rehabilitation Services and foster care agencies.

Grout said she spends a day and a half in the Goessel school system, working with 24 students. But she has a total case load of 67 students and also works in the Hillsboro school system.

Grout has helped families obtain money for medications, counseled children experiencing the grief of divorce, helped students acquire organizational skills, and helped students dealing with depression and self-esteem issues.

?It?s a difficult job,? she said, ?and it?s very rewarding.?

In other business, the board:

n reluctantly approved the retirement of junior high/high school custodian Norman Schmidt, who has been employed by the school for 16 years.

Fast said Schmidt has done an ?absolutely outstanding job of taking care of our facilities.? Fast mentioned Schmidt?s carpentry skills, as well as his ability to relate to students.

Fast said Schmidt is willing to help part-time.

n heard Grout highlight recent accomplishments at the state science fair. He said six junior high students received medals, as well as two high school students. Grout also mentioned accomplishments in FCCLA, art, FFA, music, golf and track.

n heard Fast say that grades K-5 will be going to the Heritage Center in Abilene and to the Smoky Valley Railroad on April 23 to experience life in the 1800s.

n briefly discussed plans for the 50th anniversary of the elementary school building. Fast said students will be involved in a program Friday, Sept. 25, and a program for the public will be Sunday, Sept. 27, at 2:30. He noted that the community Harvest Festival and craft fair will be Saturday, Sept. 26.

n listened to elementary school teachers Barb Goering and Ilona Abrahams speak about reading curriculum. In order to save money, Fast said the plan is to fully fund curriculum for K-3 but to spread purchases for grades 4-12 over two years. Fast said this plan will save the school district $10,000.

n listened to board member Darla Meysing;s report about the Marion County Special Education Cooperative. She voiced dismay that new estimates on renovations to the building that the co-op recently purchased are much higher than initial expectations.

The understanding had been that the total cost of the project should be $300,000, with renovations costing $180,000 to $220,000 of that. However, current estimates are between $450,000 and $500,000.

?I personally think it?s too much money to spend,? Meysing said, citing ?hard economic times.?

The board noted the building is already ADA accessible, and the rooms are bigger and better than what the co-op uses now. It was noted that some of the “cosmetic” improvements might not be necessary.

Duerksen cautioned, ?You can?t spend all your carry-over.?

Board member Maynard Knepp said, ?I just think there needs to be some pretty strong advisory here…. There needs to be another option.?

Unrau agreed: ?I hear the board supporting your position, Darla.?

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