Goessel school board affirms foreign exchange program

The Goessel school board reflected on the district’s involvement in the foreign exchange student program during its April 9 meeting.

John Fast, superintendent and elementary school principal, said, “We are fortunate to have a strong exchange program.”

He said Goessel usually has five or six exchange students, but one year there were eight. Scott Boden, junior high and high school principal, added, “From my perspective, it’s been positive.”

Fast said some exchange students experience “a sport or activity they’ve never done before,” and the Goessel students benefit, too because it sometimes opens opportunities for local students.

Board member Darla Meysing said lasting friendships can develop. Her children made such friendships and even traveled to visit them last summer.

Safety training

The board listened to a presentation by Marion County Sheriff Robert Craft, who had toured the school buildings with Fast and Boden and commended the school for all the improvements they have made.

Fast said, “We want to be sure we are doing all we can to keep our students and staff safe.”

The school has new door locks, both interior and exterior, secured entrances, and numerous security cameras.

“But we also need to invest in staff training,” Fast said. Craft has been asked to talk to the school board about training in case of a violent intruder.

Craft told the school board about ALICE training, which means alert (recognizing the danger), lock-down (if you can’t evacuate), inform (communicate the intruder’s location), counter (create distraction), evacuate (remove yourself from the danger).

Evacuate is No. 1, Craft said; lock-down if you can’t evacuate. Craft said ALICE training takes most of a day. He recommended annual training for all employees. Fast said ALICE is “one of the best programs we know of.”

Craft said safety practices have changed, and recommendations are different than years past. He said in a violent situation, the first priority of law enforcement is to find the intruder; the second priority is to secure the building, and then give aid if someone is injured.

Board chair Kelly Booton acknowledged, “It’s not an easy subject to talk about.”

The administration and board thanked Craft for coming.

“We want our public to rest assured that we are taking all the measures we can to make sure our campus is a safe location,” Fast said.

Other business

In other business, the board:

◼ accepted the resignation of Rachel Boden, instructional coach/social worker at Kinderhaus Preschool. Boden plans to attend Wichita State University to obtain her master’s degree in social work.

Fast commended Boden for her work in moving the preschool into the school building and highlighted the smooth transition to Bonnie Gaeddert as the preschool teacher.

◼ accepted the resignation of Andrew Voth as junior high and high school vocal music teacher and Scholars Bowl coach. Voth has taught at Goessel for five years.

In his resignation letter, Voth expressed appreciation for teaching at Goessel and said he will always consider himself a Bluebird.

Fast said, “He has done a superb job.”

Voth is leaving to pursue his master’s degree in choral conducting at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

◼ heard a legislative report from board member Bryant Miller. He contacted State Rep. Don Schroeder about HCR 5029, which would take away judicial review and would put rural schools at a significant risk. Miller expressed concern that it would be disastrous.

He said Schroeder did respond to him. Miller also contacted State Sen. Rick Wilborn, but Wilborn did not respond.

◼ heard that Wilborn voted against an increase in school funding.

◼ voted to provide $50 per student for transportation to the band/choir competition in Dallas, Texas, May 3-5, as has been the practice for other student trips. Each student will provide $120 for expenses; 79 students are planning to participate. The music department has fund-raisers to help pay expenses.

◼ decided to have separate preschool sessions for 3-year-old children and not combine them with the 4-year-old children. Board member Ben Schrag said, “I think the preschool adds value to our school district and our community.”

◼ heard that Fast, Sheri Janzen, Bonnie Gaeddert, Rachel Boden, and Chrys­tiana Miller are planning a family night April 20 for families with children up to 5 years old. Families will be introduced to community resources, and large vehicles will be there, including a fire truck, sheriff’s car, and ambulance.

Ministerial Alliance, Tabor Mennonite Church food pantry, Parents As Teachers and the city library will be represented, plus other resources.

◼ heard from Bryant Miller about a possible grant for mental health intervention work at the preschool.

◼ heard elementary school children went to the Wichita City Arts Center and Newton Recreation Center April 6. Money for the trip was raised by collecting box tops.

◼ discussed the April 25 accreditation visit. Lynette Cross, chair of the education department at Tabor College, will lead the visit. Shawn Koehn, principal at Canton-Galva, and Nathan Hiebert, language arts teacher from Hillsboro, also will be involved.

◼ heard the Marion County Special Education Cooperative report from board member Booton. He said some candidates have surfaced for open positions.

◼ heard from Meysing that The Learning Consor­tium is “running smoothly.”

◼ briefly talked about at-risk funding for summer school. Fast said it runs for three weeks, four mornings a week for kindergarten through fifth grade.

◼ approved the use of school buses for the after-prom party, with plans for Jim Schmidt and Larry Lindeman to be the drivers.

◼ approved the May 9 eighth-grade trip to the Steamboat Arabia Museum in Kansas City, Mo., and the State Capitol in Topeka.

◼ heard that track and golf are underway, with large numbers of students participating. Boden said the new discus ring and cage have been installed. The new long-jump runway and pits are in place and ready for surfacing. Work is taking place to improve the turf on the football field.

◼ heard from Boden that assessment tests are underway. He thanked counselor Janna Duerksen for her work in coordinating the testing.

◼ heard that Goessel students did well at the April 4 art contest at Elyria.

◼ briefly discussed the league. Boden said, “We have a pretty good mix of schools in our league.”

◼ reviewed the school’s long-term goals: implement an individualized plan of instruction for each student that allows them to maximize their potential, maintain and build our high level of student success, and continue to communicate with the community about strengths and challenges.

◼ approved the Parents As Teachers assessment of $5,338.

◼ heard Fast comment, “We should end the year in good shape.”

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