Goessel board hears of state test results

The Goessel school board heard Superintendent John Fast?s review of state assessment test scores during its Nov. 8 meeting.

Fast said results fall into five categories: exemplary, exceeds standards, meets standards, approaching standards, and warning. Eighty percent of students tested have to score in the top two categories to meet the building-wide Standard of Excellence.

Only grades three, four and five were tested at the elementary school, and they all met the Standard of Excellence in reading, math and science.

Marc Grout, junior/senior high principal, said sixth, seventh, eighth and 11th graders were tested at that building, and all grades met the Standard of Excellence in reading, math and science.

Grout and Fast commended the students and teachers. The board approved Fast?s recommendation for an extra half-day off from school on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 24, as a reward.

Since school would have been dismissed at noon that day anyway, there will be no school on the 24th.

New program

On another matter, the board listened to a presentation by Steve Wyckoff of Rural Educa?tion and Community Develop?ment. His services are provided by Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas.

Wyckoff is trained as a community development ?coach? and is also sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through Kansas State University.

He explained how five school districts?Erie, Nickerson, Pretty Prairie, Otis-Bison and Stafford?have been working together to offer education that does three things: provides ?doing? experiences, allows students to master academic standards in a real-world context, and enhances and contributes to the development of rural communities.

He cited health sciences, agriculture, community engagements, construction, entrepre?neur?ship, community service and a grocery store as area of study for small communities that are experiencing declining school enrollment.

Wyckoff said students at Stafford are encouraged to start and run businesses. Students started a construction program and built the first new home in Stafford in 25 years.

According to Wyckoff, Stafford only has 75 students in the high school; 60 of them are enrolled in the community-oriented programs.

Students at Otis-Bison and Little River refurbished 15 homes.

Wyckoff said, ?We?re adding more schools to this process…. We?re trying to figure out how to give our kids a great education and keep the schools open.?

Board member Maynard Knepp said, ?I?d say this is one of the most exciting things for schools we?ve seen in a long time.?

When Fast asked what schools pay for the service, Wyckoff said, ?At this time, there is no cost; we?re trying to get grants.?

Fast suggested involving the city council and Bethesda Home in an effort to learn more about community development.

Wyckoff emphasized ?community marketing? and asked, ?How do you market your town nationally??

He identified Internet marketing and social media as important for small schools.

Board chair Mary Rosfeld asked, ?How can kids get involved in marketing our town and our school??

Wyckoff said, ?Google it; that?s how people shop today.?

He talked about advertising on Facebook, adding, ?These are great things for your kids to do.?

He suggested blogging about the community as a school writing assignment.

Bus issues

The board spent considerable time discussing bus bids.

Fast had obtained bids from Allied, Kansas Truck (Bluebird bus), and Midwest Bus (Thomas bus). Based on research, he recommended a Bluebird bus from Kansas Truck.

The new bus would replace bus No. 5, which is not the oldest bus, but it is the bus with the most repair bills.

The board discussed at length whether to get a bus with air conditioning, which would cost an additional $5,000.

It was pointed out that repairs on bus No. 5 had already exceeded $6,000 since August, and that $5,000 more on a nearly $100,000 purchase did not seem like a large amount.

It was also noted that students would be able to perform better at games and competitions after a long bus ride in hot weather.

?It would be greatly appreciated,? Fast said.

Allergies and asthma, which are aggravated by dust and heat, also were mentioned.

?I?m concerned about health issues,? Rosfeld said, noting that, like classrooms, buses need air conditioning, too.

Fast said bus drivers go long distances and would appreciate air conditioning but would understand if the new bus would not have it.

?I have a new appreciation of dust,? board member James Wiens said, referring to 120th, which was recently torn up and is now rock and dusty.

It was also noted that air conditioning would take away some luggage space and would mean more maintenance.

Board member Kelly Booton did not think that air conditioning would be needed during much of the school year.

The board approved the purchase of a Bluebird bus for a cost of $98,981. But with the trade-in allowance for bus No. 5, the actual cost will be $66,521.

The bus will have a pneumatic door opener, but not air conditioning, due to budget concerns.

Fast said ?sometime in the future, we can take another look at it.?

Other business

In other business, the board:

? noted that 98 percent of the students at the elementary school were represented by one or both parents at parent-teacher conferences, and 88 percent of junior/senior high school students were represented.

? voted to approve a contract for Ryan Janzen as the third assistant coach for high school boys? basketball since 31 boys are expected.

? approved the audit report from Knudsen and Monroe and commended board clerk Patsy Schmidt for her work.

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