Schools battle budget shortfalls to maintain standards

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Despite budget problems caused by revenue shortfalls in the state budget, the six public school districts and private college of Marion County found ways to excel acadmically and expand facilities during 2009.

January

The Marion City Council tentatively approved Dec. 28 selling the former Golden Living Center building in Marion for $100,000 to the Marion County Special Educa?tion Cooperative, which will relocate its programs there from Florence.

Marion County Communities in Schools received word it was approved for a grant of nearly $160,000 through the Kansas Children?s Cabinet and Trust Fund.

The USD 410 Board of Education agreed to name the newly constructed cafeteria at the elementary school the ?Gordon Mohn Community Center? in honor of the recently retired superintendent.

Marion Elementary School was notified by the Kansas State Department of Education that it achieved a building-wide Standard of Excellence in reading, math and science for 2008.

The search for a permanent superintendent for USD 410 officially concluded Jan. 31 when the board of education approved a two-year contract for Steve Noble of Haven by a 7-0 vote.

February

The Hillsboro High School Scholars Bowl team qualified for state after winning the league championship five days earlier. Team members are Cody Blackketter, Ben Gottsch, Brianna Loewen, David Winter and Sam Bookless.

Monica Spachek of Marion Middle School won the annual county spelling bee Feb. 11 by correctly spelling ?panzer? in the ninth round.

A one-car crash on Interstate 35 near Tankawa, Okla., claimed the life of Marcus Manny, a Tabor College senior and popular football player. It is believed he was texting at the time of the accident.

The Hillsboro High math team of Cody Blackketter, David Loewen, Brandon McMillen and Briana Loewen took first at the third annual McPherson College Mathematics Competition Feb. 18.

Construction began in late February on Joel A. Wiens Stadium, a joint project of USD?410 and Tabor College. The project includes a new football stadium and track-and-field facility.

More than 500 people attended the Marion Elementary School carnival Feb. 28. All proceeds from the event went toward a needed purchase for the school.

March

A record of about 420 people participated in the Hillsboro Elementary School?s annual Family Reading Night March 10.

Tabor College launched ?JayShop,? an online store making it possible for Bluejay fans to buy gear and gifts via the Internet.

April

Tabor College President Jules Glanzer announced April 3 that the nation?s economic downturn had forced him to cut more than $500,000 from the operating budget and reduce 11 employees from the campus workforce, beginning with the 2009-10 school year.

The Marion-Florence school district acquired a 1998 Blue Bird transit-style touring bus for school activities and teams. The board said the acquisition will greatly enhance student comfort without increasing expenses to the district.

The Goessel school board heard at its April 13 meeting that a new league has officially been formed called the Wheat State League. The new league, which includes Goessel, already has nine members, with one more school as a possible member.

In a special meeting April 29, the USD 410 Board of Education approved several personnel adjustments in an attempt to address expected revenue declines in the ballpark of $500,000 for the 2009-10 school year. The cuts are prompted by a shortfall in the state budget.

In the midst of those potential cuts, the USD 410 board approved the purchase of nearly $126,000 in individual laptop computers for high school students and faculty.

May

Goessel High School?s graduating class of 18 seniors included five valedictorians with a 4.0 grade-point average: Anthony Esau, Chrystiana Voth, Austin Unruh, Amy Brubacher and James Goerzen.

The valedictorians at Hills?boro High School were Ben Gottsch, Kelsey Bartel, Cassie Kroeker and Cody Blackketter, each with a 4.0 GPA.

Holly Swartzendruber, associate professor of voice, is this year?s winner of the Clarence R. Hiebert Excellence in Teaching Award at Tabor College.

James Wiebe, a Hillsboro High School alum and entrepreneur living in Wichita, was the featured speaker at the Tabor College commencement.

June

A half-dozen art students at Goessel High School began their summer vacation by repainting the mural on the side of Keith?s Food store in downtown Goessel. The mural was created 30 years ago.

USD 398 Peabody-Burns and Tabor College announced the creation of a cooperative Teacher Prep Pathways Program that is intended to encourage Peabody-Burns students to pursue teaching as a career path.

The Goessel school board recognized Lynel Unrau for 24 years of board service June 16. Unruh chose not to seek another term in the recent election.

July

Two Hillsboro High School freshmen, Nicholas Ediger and Aaron Slater, took first place in the structural engineering competition at the national Tech?nology Student Association conference in Denver.

Jacob Jirak, a Centre High School student, took first place in a Future Business Leaders of America national competition in the area of personal finance. He later presented his project to the Kansas State Board of Education.

August

Joe Sechrist, Hillsboro, was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the USD 410 Board of Education. The opening occurred when no one filed to run for seat in the spring election. Kimberlee Jost had also applied for the appointment.

The Goessel school board discussed its decision to save money by lengthening the school day by a few minutes and therefore shorten the length of the school year.

USD 410 officials offered free admission for the public in celebration of ?Dedication Night? for the new Joel A. Wiens Stadium Sept. 25. Instead of admission, the district asked for donations of canned good for families with needs.

September

Tabor College announced its second straight year of record student enrollment. The 640 students is the largest enrollment in the school?s 101-year history. It includes 504 undergrads on the Hillsboro campus.

Evan Yoder, principal at Hillsboro Elementary School, was named Teacher of the Year for 2008 in Region 4 of the Kansas Hunter Education program. He has been involved in the program since the mid-1990s.

October

Amy Plett began working Oct. 1 as the new secretary in the USD 410 central office.

The USD?410 board voted unanimously Oct. 12 to join Schools for Fair Funding in filing a lawsuit, along with other Kansas school districts, that would force the Kansas Legislature to fulfill its legal responsibility to suitably fund K-12 education.

A 21-year old man, Rejilio Hernandez, who allegedly kidnapped 17-year-old Tara Simhiser of Lehigh, remained behind bars in late October. Simhiser was identified and returned home with the help of the statewide Amber Alert system.

David Vogel, a Hillsboro High alum, won first place for Tabor College in the Sophomore Men Classical Performance category at the National Association of Teachers of Singing West Region Student Auditions at Kansas State University.

Duane K. Unruh of the Peabody-Burns FFA Chapter was named the national winner of the Poultry Production Entrepreneurship/Placement Proficiency Award at the national FFA convention in late October.

November

Goessel received 21 Standard of Excellence certificates as a result of students? state assessment scores.

The HHS team of Allister Young, Ashley Brandt, Emily Hoskinson, Rachel Mackenzie and Ashlyn Simmon qualified the Family, Career and Com?munity Leaders of America quiz bowl finals at the national cluster in Louisville, Ky., Nov. 19-21.

December

Public schools in Marion County prepared for the likelihood of yet another unplanned funding reduction because of the state?s budget crisis. Gov. Mark Parkinson said any additional budget shortfalls will be addressed with revenue increases by reducing tax entitlements.

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