Goessel board hears state budget impact on operations

The Goessel school board listened to Chet Roberts, business administrator, explain financial matters at its Jan. 12 meeting.

?As you know,? he said, ?the state has not been sending the money in a timely manner.... It?s going to be a little bit tight.?

He said the budget was published in August, but it will ?come up short? by the end of June. He added: ?We cannot run a deficit at all.?

Consequently, Roberts and Superintendent John Fast went to Topeka to ask what can be done. Roberts said they were told ?we?re in about as good a shape as anyone.... There are some (schools) that are just not going to make it.?

Board chairman Lynel Unrau added, ?It should be emphasized that this district is not one of those; we?ve done well.?

Fast agreed: ?Through the years, we?ve been trying to run a tight ship here at Goessel.?

He said the Legislature would begin debate after the governor?s state-of-the-state address and the subsequent release of the budget proposal.

Roberts and Fast learned that in a ?worst-case scenario,? there would be a loss of $100 per ?weighted? student, but no one seems to know if or when that would happen.

Roberts said, ?My guess is it?s not going to be that bad.?

Fast added: ?We can be creative with this…. It?s an opportunity for major problem-solving.?

He said he has already met with the elementary school teachers and plans to meet with the junior high and high school teachers to discuss financial matters.

Free parenting workshop

Turning the board?s attention to another matter, Fast announced a free parenting workshop from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 28. Child care and snacks will be provided. More information will be provided later.

He said that Linda Ogden received a grant to provide ?Conscious Discipline? workshops throughout the county and that last year?s workshops had been well received.

Security cameras

Marc Grout, junior/senior high school principal, explained the security camera system that was recently installed in that building.

?We appreciate having it,? Grout said. Fast said the cameras are small and unobtrusive. He said Goessel is one of the last schools to install cameras.

Using his computer, Grout demonstrated how the system works, although he said ?we hope don?t have to use it for anything.? The school installed the system in response to a recent break-in. The hope is that the security will be a deterrent to such activity in the future.

Grout pointed out the clarity of the pictures even in dark areas of the school. The cameras record all activity in those areas, which can be reviewed even to a specific second.

When board member Lynnette Duerksen asked how much it would cost to add another camera, Grout said, ?About $250, plus wiring.?

Calendar discussion

The board discussed the proposed school calendar for the 2009-10 year, which has 189 ?contact? days with students. Fast said schools have to count either days or hours.

?We go by hours,? he said. ?We have to have 1,116 hours per year (contact time with students).? He also emphasized the importance of in-service days.

When board member Maynard Knepp asked how many schools in the state are going to a four-day week, Fast said some schools have tried it, but his observation is: ?It may not be as much of a savings as people think.?

Savings would be on pay for cooks and bus drivers, but Fast said some school districts lost excellent cooks and bus drivers because of that. He said the school days would have to be longer, so there would likely not be much saving on custodial pay.

While some high school students might like extra time to work, Fast said schools have ?found major child-care problems at the elementary level? with four-day school weeks.

Grout said other problems also arise, such as complications with scheduling for students who take interactive television college classes. Fast expressed concern about the effect of four-day weeks on learning and test scores.

Other business

In other business, the board:

n heard Fast?s reminder that Jan. 27 is the last day to file for school board positions that will be open in the next election. The positions of Unrau, Lynnette Duerksen and Dewayne Voth will be open. Unrau said, ?I will not be filing for another term this year…. There are people out there that are very capable.?

Fast commended him, saying, ?You have contributed many thousands of hours through the years.?

n heard Grout?s report on a recent Heart of America league meeting. Although a number of schools have expressed interest in joining the league, he does not think any will be added yet.

n heard board member Darla Meysing report on the recent Marion County Special Educa?tion Cooperative meeting she had attended. Meysing said the co-op purchased a former nursing home in Marion.?It?s going to be nice,? she said. ?There are all kinds of opportunities.?

The co-op board hopes to have the Oasis program in the building by the start of school in fall.

n granted a request from high school teacher/coach Justin Coup for paternity leave from teaching duties. But Coup will still fulfill athletic director and coaching duties during that time.

n heard Grout list up-coming Scholars Bowl and basketball tournaments. ?We?ve got six days of activities this week,? he said.

n listened to resident Tony Epp?s suggestion that the song ?My Country ?Tis of Thee? be played at ball games instead of ?The Star-Spangled Banner.? He also suggested changing the school mascot from a bluebird to a hawk. He has lived in Goessel for over seven years and said, ?I have yet to see a bluebird,? although he sees lots of hawks. He also wondered how many Goessel High School graduates live within 15 miles of Goessel.

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