Goessel school board hears of $73,000 solar power grant

The Goessel school board was informed during its Sept. 14 meeting that USD 411 will be the recipient of a $73,000 Westar Energy Photo?voltaic Grant that will be used to generate solar energy for the school.

John Fast, superintendent and elementary school principal, said two schools were chosen from a total of 90 applicants. The school received high marks for the actual writing of the grant, for the environmental education it will provide, the solar energy that will be used, and affordability of the project.

Fast said 40 panels will be needed, as well as software. Mark Horst and King Solar will be the contractors. Fast projected the school might be able to save $200 a month on electrical costs after the equipment is operating.

Board member Lynnette Duerksen thanked Fast for his work on the grant project. Fast said 14 staff worked on it, too.

Turning its attention to another matter, the board spent considerable time discussing new Kansas State High School Activities Asso?ciation eligibility guidelines and trying to determine how that change might affect USD 411.

Fast said in the past, KSHSAA required students to be enrolled in school and taking classes at least half-time in order to participate in activities. Now, KSHSAA has changed the requirement to stipulate that students may participate in activities if they are enrolled in at least one class plus at least half-time in an online school setting.

Board members and administrators said parents and the athletic department had shared concerns with them about the new state guidelines.

Scott Boden, junior high and high school principal said, ?There are a lot of little things that become issues.?

Board member James Wiens added, ?We need to study it and process it.?

Board chair Dan Miller agreed, suggesting that the board research the policies. The board decided to discuss the matter further at the Nov. 5 board retreat; some staff will be invited to join the discussion there.

Board members were reminded the school has a ?pay-to-play? policy.

Staff presentation

The board heard a staff presentation from Diane Leo?nard, the new Spanish teacher. She has identified four areas of learning: read, listen, write and speak.

?I have wonderful students,? she said. ?They are terrific.?

Leonard said she likes to try new things and wants to help her students publish a Spanish or bilingual book. She wants to help her students make a Bluebird pinata for every classroom.

The Iowa native said she has taught in many states; her husband was a pastor. They lived in Mexico for a while and learned to speak Spanish there.

?Culture is a lot of the language,? she said. ?If you don?t understand the culture, it?s hard to understand the language.?

Leonard has a Spanish degree, and was also a business teacher for a while. The Leonards have 14 grandchildren; the oldest will soon be 14 years old.

Leonard said she is happy to be at Goessel.

?I think I?ve been spoiled since I came to Goessel,? she said, thanking the board for the in-service meals and the ice cream sundaes.

?I?m looking forward to working with the kids this year and getting involved with the community,? she said.

Fast commended her work: ?It?s clear you have a passion for it.? Boden added, ?We are excited and happy to have her.?

Other business

In other business, the board:

? heard that school buses can now be serviced in Goessel at The Station; the school no longer needs to drive the buses out of the community for servicing.

Fast said, ?Joe Base and Caleb Makovec did a fine job of preparing our buses for inspection and providing the necessary summer maintenance.?

Fast said Base picked up and delivered the buses, and Makovec was the mechanic who worked on them.

? heard an updated student ?head-count? from Fast: 13 in kindergarten: 23 in first grade; 22 in second grade: 20 in third grade: 19 in fourth grade: 19 in fifth grade: 30 in sixth grade; 21 in seventh grade; 23 in eighth grade; 22 freshman; 21 sophomores; 24 juniors; 17 seniors, for a total of 274.

? heard updated fall sports participation numbers from Boden: 21 in high school football; 19 in high school volleyball: 12 in high school cross country: 13 in junior high football: 22 in junior high volleyball.

Boden said between one, and three managers are helping for each sport.

? heard 17 students are involved in the school play.

? heard the school is planning a celebration for the 25th anniversary of the OWLS project (Outdoor Wildlife Learning Station) sometime in spring. Fast said former teacher Bruce Stucky initiated the project.

? heard the school garden has produced bountiful amounts of fruits and vegetables for the school, including cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, okra, garlic, peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkins, and strawberries.

Fast said some items still need to be harvested: popcorn, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. He said students are encouraged to try new fruits and vegetables, and they discuss why those foods are important.

? heard Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church was planning a ?Love Your Com?munity Day? Sept. 20. Volun?teers were planning to work in the school garden.

? heard parents and FFA students volunteered to work in the school garden in summer.

? heard that Fast and school counselor Janna Duerksen are encouraging the following character traits with grade school children: Never turn your back on a team or classmate; do not be afraid to take a chance; know how to play well with others; always see the positive side of things; take responsibility; never give up.

? heard Boden say junior high and high school students also are encouraged to follow character traits: be respectful, honest, supportive, responsible leaders.

? heard of the high school?s effort for cross-curricular lesson planning with the development of a thematic unit that will involve all staff and instructional activities.

? decided to sell the school?s 1991 Windstar van at a consignment auction.

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