Political action urged

By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
Register Reporter

HUMBOLDT — “I think we’re going to have to become politically active,” USD 258 Superintendent Bob Heigele told board members Monday night.
“There seems to be more and more effort by the conservative members of the legislature to shift the burden of schools onto the local taxpayer,” he noted. The local options budget, currently at 18 mills in Humboldt, could be raised to 35 mills if a bill being considered passes, Heigele noted, shoving more of the burden to local property owners.
Heigele told the board “you as a board really have a lot more clout than I do” when it comes to influencing legislative decisions.
Budget woes continue.
“All spending stops unless it can be justified,” Heigele said. “We’re facing deficits that will have to be made up before the end of the fiscal year. We’re going to have to continue to tighten our belt and live within our means with the money we have,” Heigele said.
“It’s going to be a big legislative year in terms of what they do and how it affects us and I think it’s important that we watch this.”

HEIGELE said he notified the three entities responsible for construction of Humboldt Community Fieldhouse that he planned to pursue legal action Monday morning unless steps are taken by the end of the week to fix continued leaks in the roof. The roof was guaranteed to be leakproof. Those involved are Weigel Construction, architects Hollis and Miller and the Prosser and Wilbert construction company.
By 2 p.m., Heigele had heard from Jim Weigel, head of Weigel Construction, who said he would be out to evaluate the problem.
Recent heavy snow caused leaking at the corners of the fieldhouse, Heigele said, as water somehow got under the flashing of the roof.
The Humboldt Community Fieldhouse was completed in spring of 2007.

THE BOARD approved the search for a middle school/high school assistant principal and athletic director for the 2010-2011 school year. The post, currently held by acting assistant principal/AD Craig Smith, will be vacated when Smith takes the principal’s position next year as current principal K.B. Criss moves into the role of district superintendent.
District goals set Monday included continuing to meet Annual Yearly Progress and incorporate state assessment results into the curriculum. Mentoring of new teachers will continue at the elementary level.
“We will probably revamp our science curriculum quite a bit,” added elementary Principal Kay Bolt. Those changes will be made over the course of a few years, Heigele noted.
At the middle and high school level, two additional tech-rich classrooms are being added, and Criss is applying for a grant to fund the addition of four more.
Professional development opportunities for educators will continue, while vocational opportunities for students will be expanded. One change will be requiring seniors in vocational educational programs to “do some job shadowing as part of the program,” Criss said.
Vocational programs include building trades, vocational agriculture, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and communications/graphics.
“Administratively, we’ve got several good ideas how to expand vocational programs, but vocational programs are some of the most expensive to start up,” Heigele noted.
While the district would love to add a vocational business program, Heigele said given the current economic climate, “it’s just not an appropriate time to recommend that addition.”
Heigele also said that replacing or creating new athletic fields will have to be a long term goal.
“At this point in time you’re wasting a lot of hot air (discussing the idea) until the economy changes,” Heigele told the board.
Baseball games will continue to be played at Sweatt/Manion field. After measuring the field, it was found to be suitable for all but state playoff games.
The distance required between back stop and home plate must be 35 feet for state games; Sweatt measures in at 25 feet. The infield can meet required distances by simply mowing an additional five feet, Criss noted. In addition, “to appease the recreation department, we have to get a portable mound that would be taken up” at the end of the school year, Criss said.
The recreation department, which manages the fields, does not use a mound for its games, which are played after the school year ends.
A portable mound costs $1,200, Criss told the board. Board member Sandy Whitaker stated “I think we could get enough donations to buy a mound.”

HIGH SCHOOL counselor Staci Wiatrak continues to do “a phenomenal job” noted Criss, saying “she’s pulled up applications for more scholarships than we’ve ever seen.”
The district will continue to improve its college preparatory curriculum, Heigele said.
An elementary school tutoring program, the Youth Friend program, will be featured in a promotional video for Southeast Kansas Education Service Center at Greenbush.
Greenbush funds the program wherein high school students and adults tutor elementary students during the school day.
Two snow days used recently will not need to be made up, but any further missed days will require adding days to the end of the school year, Heigele noted.