Lee Leiker spoke with the confidence of someone who knows his plan is working. With 38 in attendance for Marion Chamber of Commerce’s annual chili cookoff, Leiker presented on the successes of Marion schools, which are plentiful, as Leiker made clear.
In listing USD 408’s accomplishments, Leiker touted the consecutive Newsweek top-500 high schools designation that Marion High School has received in 2014 and 2015, as well as the new press box and required volunteer labor that went into it, and the new food service management program that has improved the quality of lunch at the school.
That was just the tip of the iceberg.
The volleyball team’s better-than-ever season was mentioned, as were choirs directed by new music teacher Tomas Lambotte, new band uniforms, new singers uniforms, the acquisition of Saddle Club storage facility south of Warrior Stadium, which Leiker hopes to turn into a community garden.
Aidan Carns was lauded for being the only Kansan in the National FFA Band’s upcoming performance at national convention.
FFA was lauded for donations of $300 to both the county food bank and Community Christmas fundraisers.
“If you’re not excited about what USD 408 is doing,” Leiker concluded, “have somebody check your pulse.”
Leiker said the successes were even greater in the face of adversity from Topeka, where school funding is down $1.2 million from where it was in 2008, according to figures Leiker provided, in which he discounted from current funds retirement and special education funds that are only nominally the schools’.
Attendees were treated to five varieties of chili, cooked up by chamber members. Roger Schroeder’s chili got the most first-place votes, with Shawn Vondenkamp’s chili garnering second most.
Of course, the meeting’s positivity was brought to a halt by an announcement that the chamber would disband at the end of the year.
The meeting was presented as just another meeting, with the announcement held off till just before the monthly drawing for chamber bucks, the customary practice that concludes every chamber meeting.