USD 411 consults experts about expansion

Staff writer

Goessel USD 411 may be just a few steps away from offering top-of-the-line agriculture, food, and science instructional facilities and curriculum that could propel the district to the forefront of preparing students for the future.

At a special meeting Oct. 17, board of education members, staff representatives, and several community members met with Shannon Washburn and Steve Harbstreit of Kansas State University College of Agriculture to discuss upgrade and expansion plans. Also present were architectural advisers Lester Limon and David Stewart of PKHLS Architectural Firm in Newton.

“When we talk about putting money into our agriculture, science and FACS programs, we are not just talking about maintaining what we have,” superintendant John Fast said. “We want to evolve into providing a stronger, technology-based curriculum that better prepares our students for the future.”

At an in-service meeting with teachers and staff on Oct.12, Fast said top priority needs identified for the district included upgrades and improvements in the science labs, agriculture department facilities, FACS space, shelter at the elementary school, and brick and mortar work.

“We want to look ahead and dream how best we can help our students be successful,” Fast said.

Words like biotechnology, biofuels, DNA exploration, genetic testing, engineering, and agronomics sprinkled conversations between Goessel vocational agriculture teacher Zana Manche, FACS instructor Gina Bergin, science teacher Donna O’Neill, and the panel of experts.

“Technology can speed up what we do in labs with graphing and analysis,” O’Neill said. “Students would just be astonished with what we could do with some up-to-date equipment. I am so very, very excited we are having these conversations.”

Harbstreit said it was difficult to prepare students for the future with outdated equipment.

“We need to take a look at components, concepts, and what we teach to better prepare students for a higher tech future,” he said.

Washburn added that high tech careers are the fastest growing sector in the country right now, and many related jobs pay more than those available do to graduates with four-year college degrees.

Limon commented that, with the ever-growing population in the world, having an agriculturally based community and school was going to become of upmost importance.

“It won’t be long that the professional world is going to be begging rural American to feed them,” he said. “We need to prepare technically, industrially, scientifically and cerebrally. The importance of hands-on curriculum in our science departments will be critical.”

Fast said preparing students to meet the needs of the future was the basis of improvements and expansion dreams at Goessel. A bond issue will be needed to pay for the updates.

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