Schools seek funding support from patrons

Marion High School seniors (from left) McKenzee Remmers, Kayla Kroupa and Brittany Hett said they enjoyed the cooler weather while giving curbs on Main Street a fresh coat of yellow paint during the Marion High School community service day in late September.
Marion High School seniors (from left) McKenzee Remmers, Kayla Kroupa and Brittany Hett said they enjoyed the cooler weather while giving curbs on Main Street a fresh coat of yellow paint during the Marion High School community service day in late September.
School funding challenges surfaced again in 2015, with three school districts in the county receiving approval to increase or maintain higher tax support for local option budgets.

All six school districts in the Free Press distribution encountered state-aid reductions with the ?block grant funding bill? proposed by the Brownback administration and approved by the Kansas Legislature.

Despite funding cuts, all six districts did their best to provide their students with a top-notch public education, and most districts experienced student accomplishments above and beyond the state standard.

January

A first-aid and survival app created by a six-member Technology Student Associa?tion team at Hillsboro High earned ?Best in State? honors in the national Verizon Innova?tive App Idea Challenge. Jonathan Hiner?man, Nathan Simhiser, Reece Berens, Travis King, Carson Herbel and Jared Dyck spent around 100 hours developing the concept.

The Tabor College Music Department was notified that the National Associa?tion of Schools of Music has granted a full 10-year renewal of membership.

The USD 410 Board of Education approved a resolution asking patrons to vote for a ?continuous and permanent? authorization to adopt a local option budget of 33 percent. In June 2014, voters approved an LOB authority of 31 percent, which was raised to 33 percent through a one-time increase option taken by the school board. However, in order to maintain the 33 percent level, a majority of qualified electors who submit a ballot must vote to approve.

USD 411 Superinten?dent John Fast reported classes will begin to move into new facilities this month. Fast said the agricultural education, science and FACS (family and consumer science) departments planned to begin moving equipment Jan. 19.

February

Almost one year ago, a group of parents decided new playground equipment was needed at Hillsboro Elementary School, but with a price tag of nearly $185,000. An outpouring of community support has raised $107,000 so far.

A relatively small team of Tabor students has conceived, written and staged a musical based on the beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. The team presented a free-staged reading of the production in the Theatre Lab located in the basement of the Lohrenz Administra?tion Building.

School officials in Marion County reported dips in attendance because of flu-type illnesses in late January and early February. On Feb 2, 75 of the 265 students at Marion Elementary School were absent.

Goessel High School won the Class 1A Scholars Bowl championship. Mem?bers of the team are seniors Gentry Thiesen (captain), Aaron Woelk and Erin Brubaker; juniors Zach Wiens, Alicen Meysing and Benedikt Heyl. It was the first state title for Goessel?s long-time coach, Wes Schmidt-Tieszen.

Goessel eighth-grader Edel Miller won the Marion County Spelling Bee champion Feb. 11 in a showdown with fellow finalist Kennedy Fahey, a seventh-grader from Marion.

The Goessel school board heard that cuts in K-12 education being proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature will mean the likely loss of an additional $20,638 in the current school year?s budget.

USD 410 Superintendent Steve Noble reported that a worse-case scenario of the governor?s state-aid reduction would result in $182,000 in cuts and delayed payments for the current fiscal year for USD 410.

Adam Kjellin, a junior at Marion High School, was among 256 students selected from a field of more than 2,000 to perform later this month in the Kansas Music Educators Association All-State Choir.

Ten students from USD 410 were selected to perform in state honor groups at the KMEA in-service workshops. Eighth-grade students Eva Franz, Jenna Hinerman, Grace Major and Caleb Rempel, along with freshman Josiah Melton, were selected to sing with the Kansas Choral Directors Association All-State Treble Chorus. Seniors Joyann Dirks, Claire Heyen and Daniele Mel?ton, junior Taytum Miller, and sophomore Vance Klassen were selected for the All-State Honor Choir.

Tabor College President Jules Glanzer expressed gratitude during the annual President?s Dinner for the generosity of every donor who contributed to the Signature Campaign. ?As of today, the total amount you and a thousand other people have given to this campaign is $13.4 million.? A record crowd of more than 315 donors, faculty, staff and students responded with applause upon hearing the news.

March

Malorie Hein, a fourth-grader at Hillsboro Elemen?tary School, was informed that her poster, ?Trees Are Terrific in Kansas Cities and Towns,? was named the state winner in the annual Kansas Arbor Day Poster Contest. As the state winner, Malorie and her family were invited to attend Tree City USA Recognition Day in Topeka March 26.

Marion High School won the NCKTC High School Invitational Gas Metal Arc Welding contest March 6 in Beloit. Individually, Raleigh Kroupa placed first, Nicho?las Stuchlik fifth and Bret Voth sixth.

In response to a bleak funding future, the Goessel school board agreed at its March 9 meeting to call for a public election to increase taxes designated for the local option budget.

Eight members of the Hillsboro Chess Guild competed at the Kansas Scholas?tic Chess Association state tournament. Seven of the eight received medals, and the high school team placed fifth in the K-12 division.

Numbers provided by the Kansas State Depart?ment of Education in late March indicated the so-called ?block grant bill? will have a negative impact on the educational process at each of the six school districts in the Free Press coverage area over the next two years.

The Hillsboro High School chapter of TSA earned eight top-three awards, including four first-place finishes, at the state competition in Salina. Adviser Creigh Bell said it was the school?s best performance at the state convention so far.

April

Three school districts in Marion County requested special mail-ballot elections to raise their local option budget. Unified School District 410-Hillsboro mailed its ballots to registered voters April 13, USD 398-Pea?body-Burns mailed ballots April 17 and USD 411-Goessel mailed ballots April 24.

Five members of the newly organized Centre SADD chapter participated in their first ?Sticker Shock? project in Marion. Students applied stickers to the cardboard cases that hold six packs of beer. The stickers remind consumers that ?buying alcohol for a minor can come with a hefty price??a $200 fine and a misdemeanor on the purchaser?s legal record.

The Goessel school board learned at its April 13 meeting that the new storm shelter at the elementary school has already been open to the public three times for use during recent storms.

USD 410 Board of Educa?tion accepted resignations from two administrators: Max Heinrichs, Hillsboro High School principal, and Greg Brown, Hillsboro Middle School principal and district activities director.

May

With volunteers from the audience pulling a vintage horse-drawn sulky plow, Tabor College broke ground May 2 for its long-awaited Shari Flaming Center for the Arts in Tabor Park. ?This is a great day in the history of Tabor College,? said Jules Glanzer, president. Of the $14.4 million raised to date, $10.2 million is specifically designated for construction.

By a 62 percent majority, USD 410 patrons authorized the board of education to retain the property-tax authority for the local option budget at 33 percent. A ?no? outcome would have resulted in an estimated funding loss of $150,000.

Patrons of Unified School District 398 Pea?body-Burns authorized its board of education to increase the local option ballot taxing authority from 30 percent to 33 percent by nearly a 3-1 margin.

By a margin of nearly 4-1, Goessel USD 411 became the third district in Marion County to authorize a property-tax increase to generate more money for its schools in lieu of state funding reductions.

Hillsboro Elementary School received word that the Kansas Depart?ment of Health and Environ?ment will be funding a grant of $48,674 for the school?s playground project. It was the second largest grant issued from a total of $403,000 KDHE distributed statewide.

Forty-six seniors were declared graduates of Hills?boro High School during the 109th annual commencement on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Robert C. Brown Gymnasium. Seven valedictorians?Phillip Ediger, Jakob Han?schu, Claire Heyen, Emily Jost, Karyn Leihy, Juliana Sin?clair and Allison Weber?addressed the audience.

The Hillsboro FFA chapter captured fifth place in Agricultural Communi?cations at the 91st Kansas FFA Association career development events in Manhattan. Team members were Riley Loewen, Jordyn Siebert and Hannah Bartel.

June

Little Free Libraries are popping up all over the country. Tampa, with a population of about 115 people, unveiled the first one in Marion County Satur?day. The concept of Little Free Libraries started six years ago in Wisconsin.

Requirements of the state?s block-grant funding plan led to the closure of the Marion County Learning Center in Hillsboro. The last day for students was June 1.

Max Hein?richs wrapped up his seventh and final year as Hills?boro High School principal. He has accepted a job with ESSDACK, the education resource agency based in Hutchinson.

Students in grades nine through 12, and adults wanting to continue their education, have the option of enrolling in TEEN Virtual Academy, an online program with classes beginning in August.

July

Susan Beeson is the new superintendent at USD 397-Centre. She comes to Centre after three years as superintendent at USD 505 in southeast Kansas.

Clint Corby was hired as the new principal at Hills?boro Mid?dle/High School. Prior to that, the St. John native was principal at Wineteer Elemen?tary School in Derby.

The USD 410 board appointed Jim Paulus to fill an at-large opening July 13.

The Goessel school board heard John Fast, superintendent and K-5 principal, report that the district?s construction and remodeling project is mostly done.

August

Hundreds of parents and children attended the dedication ceremony for the new playground at Hillsboro Elementary School. What started as a dream 21?2 years ago became a $215,000 playground area because of community effort, said USD 410 board member Rod Koons.

September

Affordable Colleges Online ranked Tabor College fifth overall on its list of Best Online Colleges in Kansas for 2015-16. The ranking is based on delivering online instruction and student support.

The USD 410 Board of Education gave a thumbs up to student entrepreneurship at its Sept. 14 meeting by approving a policy for student-led businesses operating within the district.

The Goessel school board was informed Sept. 14 that USD 411 will be the recipient of a $73,000 Westar Energy Photo?voltaic Grant. The project could save up to $200 a month on electrical costs.

Four of the six high schools in the Free Press coverage area are affected by the new classifications released Friday by the Kan?sas State High School Activi?ties Association.

Marion High School students participated in a community-service project. Lisa Johnson, coordinator, said all students and faculty members participated in the day-long event.

Enrollment for Tabor College?s fall semester is 729 students. Under?graduate enrollment has 561 students in Hillsboro and 126 at Tabor College in Wichita, as well as 42 graduate students.

October

Allison Gray, a Hillsboro High School senior, left Oct. 25 to play her French horn in the All-National Band at the National Association for Music Edu?ca?tors conference in Nashville, Tenn.

USD 410 students scored highest in English language arts and math across all grade levels in initial baseline assessments results recently received, Super?intendent Steve Noble told the USD 410 board.

November

Marion-Florence FFA members Clint Kroupa, Aaron Mol?leker and Nicholas Meyer received American FFA degrees at the 88th National FFA Con?ven?tion in Louis?ville, Ky. The degree is awarded to members who have achieved a high level of success in their supervised agricultural experiences and exemplify a high-commitment level to FFA.

Hillsboro High Senior Bryce Roberts was awarded the American FFA degree at the national FFA convention.

December

Three Marion-Florence FFA students?Kaitlyn Goebel, Aidan Cairns and Cade Harms?approached the Marion City Council Dec. 8 to ask for support in developing a community garden. After listening to the students? plan, the council agreed to help.

Steve Noble, USD 410 superintendent since 2009, accepted a similar position with the Topeka Sea?man school district. Noble?s resignation will take effect June 30.

The Goessel school district saw its solar-energy dream take form. Cloudy skies and sub-freezing temperatures with persistent winds didn?t keep workers with King Solar from assemblying a bank of 36 panels on the west side of the grade school. The project, funded by a $73,000 grant from Westar Energy, is expected to save the district up to $200 a month for electricity.

USD 410 Board of Educa?tion approved a baseball cooperative agreement between Hillsboro and Pea?body-Burns for the upcoming season. Superin?tendent Steve Noble said the agreement will be a win-win for both schools. HHS coaches anticipate a low turnout of players this year while financial constraints have made it prohibitive to begin a program at Peabody, where interest is high.