by Cynthia Goerzen
The Free Press
The Goessel school board voted at its Aug. 14 meeting to acquire Kinder Haus Preschool.
Kindergarten teacher Sheri Janzen, Title I teacher Chrystiana Voth, and preschool teacher Rachel Boden attended the August meeting to discuss the matter with the board. The issue was discussed at the June board meeting also.
Kinder Haus Preschool has been a separate entity until now, not a school program, although it has been meeting in the storm shelter at the elementary school in recent years.
Janzen, Miller and Boden spoke in the past of the need for all children to arrive at kindergarten prepared. Preschool helps prepare children for kindergarten, but these three teachers said that not all families can afford preschool tuition.
The teachers would like to reach everyone, including those “at-risk” children who don’t currently have access to preschool. Those children could be reached if the preschool would become part of the school district, even though the preschool will remain self-sustaining.
Janzen said she plans some things for the following school year based on conversations with Boden. If all children in the school district would have access to preschool, it would provide continuity for them when they enter kindergarten.
The school board had given permission at the June meeting for the three teachers to apply for preschool grants. At the August meeting, they described the grants they had applied for and received.
Janzen told the board the school was awarded a Kellogg grant, and Goessel was named a “showcase” district, a model for other smalls schools. Only 15 school districts in the state of Kansas were awarded a Kellogg: Kansas Partnering for Policy Grant.
Goessel and Centre are the smallest school districts that received the grant. Goessel will receive $2,500 on Oct. 1 this year, $1,500 next September, and $1,000 in September 2019, for a total of $5,000 over three years.
The first $2,500 will be used to purchase the research-based Frog Street Pre-K Curriculum. An additional $1,300 will be needed to cover the total cost of $3,800.
Besides curriculum, additional expenses would include a lead certified teacher, assistant teacher, supplies and purchasing the Kinder Haus from Boden. Those costs are estimates at this point.
Janzen also talked about an ELK grant, which would provide $2,003 for each at-risk student.
Boden can work with 12 children at a time at Kinder Haus. Janzen explained how certification and scheduling would work so a larger number of children could attend. Boden said some children could come on different days, although the preschool would be required to offer a certain number of hours a week for at-risk students.
Janzen said the preschool teacher would be “autonomous;” teachers would be responsible for providing things such as art and music.
Board members affirmed the preschool concept.
John Fast, superintendent/elementary school principal told the board, said, “This is an investment in the future of our community.”
The board met in a lengthy executive session to discuss the matter, then voted unanimously to include Kinder Haus as a publicly run preschool. They thanked the teachers for their work.
Board member Maynard Knepp said it takes a lot of time and commitment to write grants. “They did it out of their generosity,” he added.
Fast noted the following number of students in each class: kindergarten 18, first grade 21, second grade 15, third grade 23, fourth grade 24, fifth grade 20, sixth grade 24, seventh grade 18, eighth grade 33, freshmen 23, sophomores 22, juniors 26, and seniors 20, for a total of 287. That is 12 more students than last year.
“Enrollment is looking strong,” Fast said.
In other business, the board:
n voted to hire Tiffany Knowles as the high school play director.
n approved Harmony Gerlach and Becky Miller as junior class sponsors.
n heard that Ben Schmidt, Donna Spoonmore, Londell Duerksen, Joan Nightengale, and Tony Girard had done an excellent job of preparing the school buildings for the new school year.
n heard that the office for Sandra Duerksen, food service director, has been completed at the grade school.
n heard from Scott Boden, junior high/high school principal, that the head coaches had attended the Kansas State High School Activities Association coaching school. Goessel coaches presented information on basketball, concussion awareness, insurance, and sportsmanship.
n heard from Fast that the theme for the new school year at the grade school is “Super Heroes, Super Powers.”
The students are super heroes who are coming to school to learn their super powers, which are defined as learning to read books with ease, calculating math problems in a flash, how to write, and to express themselves through music and art, running, jumping, playing, and working well with other students.
n noted that The Learning Consortium charter was renewed. Besides Goessel, the other TLC schools are Hesston, Moundridge and Canton-Galva.
The assessment for each school district is $2,000 for this school year.
n approved a wellness proposal for teachers. Ann Hiebert, Andrew Voth and Chad Lindeman are the teachers on the meet-and-confer committee, along with board members.
n entered into executive session to review administrative contracts, which were approved in open session.
n reviewed the proposed budget for the 2017-18 year, which is $5,882,468, requiring a mill levy of 58.264, which is comparable to previous years.
Fast said Veryl Peters of the Finance Department at Kansas State Department of Education had complimented board clerk Joni Smith for her work on the budget.
n listened to the audit report from Vonda Brecheisen of Knudson and Monroe. “You have great people to work with,” she said.