Goessel superintendent offers top seven highlights from 2015-16 school year

Goessel school board heard about highlights from the past school year during its June 13 meeting.

John Fast, superintendent and K-5 principal, listed seven achievements that stood out in 2015-15:

1. Goessel Elementary School was named top elementary school in the Wichita metropolitan region.

2. Wes Schmidt-Tieszen was inducted into the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame.

3. Crysta Guhr received the volleyball coach of the year award.

4. The high school volleyball team won the Class 1A state championship.

5. Zana Manche received the Ag Education Teacher of the Year Award.

6. The school received a $73,000 Solar Voltaic grant from Westar.

7. The school celebrated 25 years of OWLS (Outdoor Wildlife Learning Station) education; Goessel has the oldest and longest running OWLS site in Kansas.

Ad education focus

Later in the meeting, the board listened to Manche describe the agriculture program at Goessel High School, as well as the retreat she is planning for the FFA officers July 17-21.

Board approval is required for out-of-state trips; the FFA officers will spend some time in Nebraska and Missouri. The trip will include officer training, community service and opportunities for developing communication skills.

The group also took time to set individual goals and group goals. Goessel has eight FFA officers.

“This is the first year I don’t have any senior officers,” Manche said.

The officers plan to visit Manche’s home place where her parents live in northeast Kansas. Her parents are planning a cookout for the students. She said her brother and sister-in-law live nearby and are planning on hosting a bonfire. Manche said students will prepare some meals themselves.

The FFA officers are planning on some activities at William Jewel College and some activities with Sabetha and Hiawatha high schools. Manche’s cousin is the ag teacher in Sabetha. Manche is hoping the retreat will provide “real-life planning” experiences for the students.

Manche said Kansas has 181 FFA chapters, and Goessel placed ninth at the state convention. She said the top 10 percent get to go on to the national convention.

Manche described plans she has for her students, including an emphasis on public speaking, tracking their money and using a budget.

Plans include adding a summer animal aspect to the ag program. It would include 40 hours in summer; students would care for animals and exhibit them at the county fair.

Manche said she would like a week in summer for high school students to work with younger children. She also would like to start a year-long “partners in active learning” elementary school buddy program with her high school students. She said the ag students already help with the garden at the elementary school.

Manche told the board she would like to set up a donor program and develop agri-science projects.

Fast commended Manche for her work and expressed appreciation to her parents for hosting the students. Board chair Dan Miller said Manche’s efforts are “quite exciting” and go “well beyond ag classes.”

Other business

In other business, the board:

• heard that USD 411 received a letter of commendation from Keith Dreiling, state director for the Kansas Department of Education, School Bus Safety Unit.

Dreiling stated the district does an excellent job of documentation and meeting the standards for school bus safety. Diana Schmidt is the school bus director for Goessel.

• voted to hire Steven Watkins as technology director, a position that is shared with the Moundridge school district. Fast said Watkins lives in Hillsboro and has been working at Sunshine Retirement Home in Buhler.

• heard The Learning Consortium report from Fast and board member Darla Meysing. Fast said Canton-Galva would like to drop out of TLC because its service comes from a different source. That would leave Goessel, Hesston and Moundridge in TLC.

• heard a Marion County Special Education Coopera­tive report from board member Kelly Booton. He said budget increases were discussed at the May 16 meeting.

• heard that carpet will be replaced in some high school classrooms during the summer break. Routine cleaning, painting and refinish­ing projects are already underway.

• approved Kansas Association of School Boards policy changes as presented, such as safety and emergency policy wording.

• heard a legislative report from Fast: “What you’re hearing in the news is what we’re hearing, too.” He was referring to state funding issues and concerns about schools closing.

• heard Fast explain that USD 411 has kept expenses within the budget, but “we are still owed money” from the state. There is concern that the state may not pay that money. Fast said the solar panels have already generated $723 of electricity for the school.

“Overall in utilities, we’re doing great,” he said.

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