Humboldt board hires architect
HUMBOLDT — After entertaining pitches from three architectural firms in a special meeting last week, the Humboldt board of education voted Monday to hire the Wichita-based firm DCS/GLMV to oversee a comprehensive evaluation of the district’s facilities and to help determine a master plan for best practices moving forward.
“What we’re wanting right now,” explained Superintendent of Schools Kay Lewis, “is for [DCS/GLMV] to look at our buildings structurally and mechanically — in terms of HVAC, electric, plumbing — and then what I’m wanting is some type of capital outlay plan so that way we can look at our facilities and have an idea of how to plan for the future. There might be some opportunities for us to look at doing some renovations, but a lot depends on what comes out of this.”
USD 258’s current bonds will be paid off by September 2021. Any necessary renovation or new construction, said Lewis, would be delayed until after that date.
“But if it turns out our buildings are in good shape,” continued Lewis, “then I don’t see building just to build. … What we want is to really, thoroughly, get an idea of how we can use our facilities in a better way to benefit students and their learning.”
HIGH SCHOOL science teacher Teri Shaughnessy briefed the board on the many successes of Humboldt’s robust health-care-related job shadow program.
The initiative currently includes a handful of students, each of whom are using a small, designated portion of certain schooldays to pursue real-life work experiences in the field of health care. Dentistry. Physical therapy. Pharmaceutics. Nursing. Radiology. Orthopedics. Veterinary medicine.
“We thought that it would be good for kids to see first-hand what they do in certain careers,” said Shaughnessy, “what the expectations are, what situations they might encounter. And to see if this is something they really want to go into.”
She gave the example of a senior who, prior to entering the job-shadow program, had her heart set on becoming a dental hygienist and was already applying to certain colleges with that goal in mind.
However, after spending only one day shadowing a local hygienist, she realized it wasn’t the life for her. Shaughnessy encouraged the young woman to give it another shot but repeat observations only confirmed the student’s antipathy.
Shaughnessy then helped this senior obtain a shadowing position in the nursing department at Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute. She took to it immediately and is scheduled to complete her CNA license next month. She is now shopping around for a good nursing college.
“We’re trying to get more of our kids interested in job shadowing,” said Superintendent Lewis, “just to make sure that what they want to go into is truly what they want to go into, so that when they go to college they’re not wasting any of their money.”
“Plus,” added Shaughnessy, “we’re showing them that they can go away to school but they can come back here and make a decent living.”
BOARD MEMBER Josh Wrestler updated the board on the district’s newly launched trapshooting team.
More than 40 students are registered in the club, and the excitement continues to grow, said Wrestler. The team has already raised nearly $10,000, which will pay for all of the club’s shells, a portion of their gear, and some of their travel expenses. The team has received donations from area businesses and held at least one well-attended fundraiser.
The group’s first practice will take place on March 31. Practices will be held Sunday and Thursday during the season. The program currently has seven qualified volunteer coaches — among them are Wrestler, the acting head coach, and board president Kevin Heisler.
“I haven’t had any pushback,” said Wrestler. “The support, from parents and the community, has been really positive.”
THE BOARD approved the relocation of Humboldt’s rapidly growing virtual education program. Currently housed in the district office, the virtual learning program, headed by Jody Siebenmorgen, will move to an office on the town square, at 109 S. Ninth Street. The district will enter into a two-year lease for $600 a month. Siebenmorgen hopes to make the move sometime over spring break.
FINALLY, Lewis announced the district’s plans to experiment with an online program called Bark, which allows the district to monitor a student’s online activity as it occurs on school computers. The program would direct automatic notices to administrators and, in certain cases, parents, when a student initiates a potentially troubling Google search.
Bark, explained Lewis, “monitors cyber-bullying...sexual content, depression, suicide, violence, hate speech, predators, profanity, drug abuse, alcohol abuse. We’re going to pilot it a little bit this year with some of our teachers...and see how it goes. But I think this is a great opportunity to see what’s going on.”
The program will not disclose sensitive personal data about the student, said Lewis, and it adheres rigorously to FERPA guidelines — rules based on a federal law that protects the privacy of student records — but “it does give us another layer of security for our students.”