Goessel school board hears of Project SEARCH program

The Goessel school board heard during its March 13 a report from David Sheppard, director of the Marion County Special Education Cooperative, about Project SEARCH, a program that seeks to develop employment skills among people with disabilities age 18 to 30.

Goessel, Hillsboro, Pea­body-Burns, Marion and Centre schools are in the MCSEC.

Sheppard described Project SEARCH as a year-long internship program that provides three different internship opportunities with local businesses, each for 10 weeks during the school year.

Sheppard said the goal is to start with six students per year. A skills trainer and teacher will work with the students and be a liaison with the host businesses. Besides learning how to perform a specific job, the program teaches “soft” skills, such as dependability and relating to people on the job.

Sheppard said Project SEARCH participants have a 70 percent rate of employment, compared to a 10 percent rate of employment in the state of Kansas among those with disabilities who have not participated in the Project SEARCH program.

The national rate of employment for people with disabilities is 18 percent.

Project SEARCH has specific criteria, and Sheppard told the board, “We’ve had lots of paperwork.” A grant will help fund the first two years of Project SEARCH.

Scott Boden, junior high and high school principal, is on the Marion County steering committee.

“I really appreciate the passion of the people on the steering committee,” Boden said. Kelly Booton, Goessel school board representative on the MCSEC board, also commented on the cooperation within the MCSEC.

The board discussed The Learning Consortium, which includes Goessel, Moundridge, Hesston and Canton-Galva schools. John Fast, superintendent and elementary school principal, told the board TLC buried fiber back in the 1990s. TLC only uses two of those fibers and now has new possibilities for the unused fibers.

Other business

In other business, the board:

• approved the resignation of Barb Banman, who will retire from her position as cook at the junior/senior high school building and food service director. Fast expressed appreciation for her 18 years of service.

“She has done an outstanding job,” he said.

• heard that Bonnie Gleason plans to retire from her para position with the MCSEC. She has worked for the co-op for 18 years in the Goessel school district. Boden said her years of service to the students and school “are greatly appreciated.”

• expressed appreciation to Brian Lightner for organizing the sub-state basketball tournament hosted by Goessel.

“Mr. Lightner did an outstanding job,” Boden said. He also expressed appreciation for “the efforts of numerous staff and community members” who helped with the event.

Boden said he received “lots of positive feedback” for the “quality tournament.”

• heard that junior high students had participated in the Wheat State League music festival at Elyria. Boden said all of Goessel’s large groups and most of the solos received “I” ratings.

• heard from Boden that high school teachers Crysta Guhr and Zana Manche had organized an “outstanding career fair” Feb. 23 for junior high and high school students. Boden said the students were “very interested” and asked good questions.

• listened to a report from Peggy Shortridge, the new Spanish teacher. She also teaches at Peabody-Burns. The two schools share resources. She said she has been teaching Spanish for a long time.

“I’m very pleased to be here, and very pleased with the students,” she said.

• heard from Fast that reading teacher Chrystiana Miller had organized “Camp Read-A-Lot” for family reading night at the elementary school March 7.

Fourth-grade teacher Tom Krehbiel and Dan Ber­gen provided a telescope for participants to use. Fast said the evening was a “big success,” with about 150 people attending.

• heard from Fast that Goessel school representatives were planning a trip to Topeka to visit with state legislators and Duane Goossen. Board member James Wiens mentioned the recent court ruling, but said he is not sure what it will change.

• heard that 25 high school students are participating in track, and 50 junior high students plan to participate.

• heard that 16 students are participating in high school golf.

• heard that Boden is the Wheat State League representative on the Kansas Sate High School Activities Association board of directors. KSHSAA oversees high school events, such as sports, music and many other activities.

Boden said the KSHSAA executive board has been working on a proposal for heat acclimatization that includes restrictions during the first few weeks of fall sports practices.

• heard about the March school improvement day, which included selecting goal areas for the improvement process, individual plans of study and student improvement planning.

Boden said school counselor Janna Duerksen had done a lot of work on “career cruising.” Elementary schoolteachers focused on relationships, relevance and results for the accreditation process.

• approved an out-of-state trip for the senior class for April 30 to May 1.

• heard that Ben Schmidt is working on proposals for LED lighting for the junior high and high school gyms.

• heard that fourth- and eighth-graders had participated in the National Assess­ment of Educational Progress testing. Fast said grades three, four and five are preparing for state assessments.

• approved a contract with Conrade Insurance.