The Goessel school board met heard a report from social worker Jane Wiens about Kansas Food Bank?s backpack food program during the board?s March 10 meeting.
According to Wiens, who works in most of the schools in Marion County, the Food 4 Kids program was started in 2004. It is housed in the Cargill Cares building in Wichita, where 4,000 volunteers assemble the food backpacks.
The service is available at 402 elementary and middle schools in Kansas, and 6,000 students per weekend receive the food.
?There really are kids going home not knowing where their next meal is coming from,? Wiens said.
The situation can lead to children with ?food insecurity,? she added. ?There are families that are really struggling.?
Wiens said the food backpack program at Goessel started five years ago with five families. This year 22 students participate, 15 at the elementary school and seven at the middle school.
?I?m assuming it will continue to go up,? she said.
Wiens contacts parents who are referred to her to ask if they would like for their children to participate in the food backpack program.
The food is distributed once a week. Wiens said the food is different every month. She showed an example of the food for a backpack: cereal, saltine crackers, beans, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, pudding, pretzels and juices.
Emphasizing the importance of confidentiality, Wiens said the food is distributed when the children are not in the classroom so other children do not know who receives it.
John Fast, superintendent and elementary school principal, thanked and commended for her work with the backpack program.
?We have increasing need,? Fast said, noting that he has had phone calls from parents expressing gratitude for the food.
The board discussed, but made no decision about, a proposal to start a cheerleading team. Gina Bergin, junior high and high school teacher, attended the meeting to present the proposal.
Dayna Steinmetz, who would be the assistant cheerleading coach, also attended. Steinmetz said her family recently moved to Goessel. She has six children, four of them in school at Goessel.
Students interested in cheerleading were at the meeting, too. Bergin said 22 students came to an information meeting.
The proposal suggests six cheerleaders per season. Girls and boys would be welcome to try out. Judges from outside the Goessel community would choose the cheerleaders. A week-long try-out clinic to teach motions, cheers and chants, would meet for a week before the actual try-outs.
According to Bergin, the purpose of a cheerleading team would be to ?promote and uphold school spirit… increase crowd participation in games… develop a sense of sportsmanship… strive to build better relationship between schools…?
She listed responsibilities of cheerleaders and coaches. Dress codes were noted, as well as specific practice times and proper attire for practices. Bergin outlined possible consequences for failure to meet the guidelines.
Requirements for lettering in cheerleading include ?attend all games and have zero unexcused absences from practice? and appropriate and sportsmanlike conduct.
Cheerleading camp would be required. It is hoped that fundraisers would pay for the cost of the camp and help pay for uniforms.
Bergin suggested the cost to the school would be the money to hire coaches and the cost of transportation to ball games.
Cheerleaders would be encouraged to participate in volunteer and community service opportunities.
Board member Maynard Knepp said, ?I would hope it would bring people in who wouldn?t go out for other sports.?
Board chair Dan Miller added, ?It certainly offers an enhanced leadership opportunity.?
In other business, the board:
— accepted a grant from the Goessel Community Foundation for the school?s garden project. The board expressed appreciation for the funds.
— accepted the resignation of Joe Biggs, kindergarten through sixth-grade physical education/health teacher. He also is the computer support staff person at the elementary school, assistant high school football coach and head junior high girls? basketball coach.
Fast said Biggs is planning to be married this summer and will be moving back to the family farm near Barnard, which is south of Beloit. He plans to farm but also to teach and coach.
Fast said Biggs has been at Goessel for five years.
?We will miss him very much,? he said.
— accepted the resignation of Spanish teacher Laura Salmeron. ?She has done a fantastic job,? Fast said about her five years at Goessel. ?We?re sorry to see her leave.?
— approved the administration?s recommendation of tenure for Zana Manche, agriculture education/FFA teacher. She is also the high school assistant volleyball coach and assistant girls? basketball coach.
— approved the recommendation of tenure for Tyler Schroeder, who teaches business. He also is the athletic director and coaches cross country.
— approved the recommendation to hire Joni Smith as assistant track coach.
— heard a report of activities from Scott Boden, junior high and high school principal. Boden said students have been involved in music, sports, FFA and Model United Nations events. He said 13 to 15 students have expressed interest in golf. Forty junior high students and almost 30 high school students are interested in track.
— heard that the in-service day later in the week would focus on team building, common core curriculum and student improvement.
— listened to a legislative report from board member James Wiens. He said the Legislature adopted ?constitutional standards for better adequacy and equity.?
Fast said that by law, USD 411 should be getting $84,000 more than it is receiving.
?It?s a really big deal for us,? he said.
Miller asked, ?How does this influence funding for special education??
Wiens said funding is vague.
— heard the Marion County Special Education Cooperative report from board member Kelly Booton. He said MCSEC did not make a decision yet about health-care options.
— heard The Learning Consortium report from board member Darla Meysing. She said it had been ?business as usual. All the equipment is working. Everyone is happy.?
— approved the calendar for the 2014-15 school year. The first day of school will be Aug. 28. Parent-teacher conferences will be Oct. 23, with no school the following day. Thanksgiving break will be Nov. 26-28. Christmas break will be Dec. 22 through Jan. 2. Classes will resume Jan. 3.