The Goessel school board was updated about the construction project by Chad Henson during its Dec. 8 regular meeting.
Board chair Dan Miller said it is exciting to think students might be in some of the new classrooms by January.
?We?ve got a tremendous facility,? added member Maynard Knepp. He said the project was daunting in the beginning, but the construction project will provide a ?huge improvement.?
Donna O?Neill, who teaches junior high and high school science, made a teacher presentation to the board. She described ?Google Classroom,? a new teaching tool that has been available since August.
?I?ve always wanted to digitize my information,? she said, noting that Google Classroom is an interface between O?Neill and her students and helps cut down on paper.
?It?s very, very new,? she said, but already she has seen positive results; for example, late assignments dropped by half in her eighth-grade class.
Students can log in to see what they need to do yet. They also can check their grades. O?Neill can communicate assignments and due dates by using Google Classroom. Students receive digital reminders about assignments.
?I?m really happy with it,? O?Neill said, adding, ?I?ve been looking for something like this for a long time.?
She is expecting a parent portal eventually. Some of her classes are now 60 percent digital and 40 percent paper.
The board noted that O?Neill is a finalist in the Samsung Solve for Tomor?row competition. O?Neill wrote a virus detection lesson plan for wheat crops. The plan includes enzymatic and biomedical testing. She has already won two tablet computers for the school and is hoping for a technology grant.
Superintendent John Fast told O?Neill, ?We very much appreciate your effort.?
In other business, the board:
? commended teacher and coach Patrick Loganbill for doing an ?excellent job? working with the high school student council to organize the community service day.
Activities included a leadership presentation, raking leaves and cleaning up in the community, playing games with elementary students and Bethesda Home residents, making cookies for people in the community, and collecting cans of food for the local food pantry.
? noted that elementary school students had collected food for the Tabor Menno?nite Church food pantry. Fast said the grade school children had exceeded their goal of 400 items by donating 638.
The students will be rewarded with a pajama day, and Fast will read the ?Polar Express? story to them. Also, the parent-teacher organization will provide hot cocoa and treats for the students.
? heard of upcoming Christmas programs Dec. 15 at the grade school and Dec. 16 at the high school.
? heard from Scott Boden, junior high/high school principal, that the Wheat State League approved the addition of Canton-Galva to the league beginning with the 2016-17 school year.
?It?s a great fit for the league,? he said. ?We welcome them.?
Boden said all the schools in the league are either 1A or 2A, and he expressed appreciation for working with them.
? discussed the importance of approving 31 percent for the local option budget, which is a ?huge help? financially for the school and community.
? heard from Boden that feedback from junior high teachers has been positive about using the Chromebook computers. Teachers appreciate the quick and easy access.
? listened to a presentation by Ashlee Gann, who is involved with Families and Communities Together. Sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th-grade students have filled out a questionnaire about alcohol use.
?We?re lower than the state average,? Gann said, but added that risk factors are increasing.
? heard from Boden that fall testing is complete. Results will be used when developing student improvement plans.
? authorized Fast to ?lock in? a fuel-bid price, given the recent drop in prices.
? heard board member Kelly Booton report that the latest meeting of the Marion County Special Education Cooperative had been short and focused on facilities. Fast said Goessel has three students in that program.
? discussed the recent school board retreat. Fast said technology had been discussed, as well as teaching and learning, training students for college or work, how to attract people to Goessel, and needs in the future.
Board members noted that O?Neill?s presentation had fit many of those goals. ?She?s leading the way,? Fast said, adding that digital learning is one to be innovative.
? voted to approve the purchase of an automatic timing system for track meets at a cost of $4,886.25. Boden said, ?We see that paying for itself in about five years. It will reduce the number of people needed to run track meets. Duerksen said timing will be more accurate.
? approved Knudsen, Monroe & Co. as the auditors for the coming year.
?They do a good job for us,? Fast said.