Greenhouse plans moving forward at school

    Wanting to make sure the Expanding Our Roots Greenhouse is done right has delayed the Holyoke High School FFA project.
    However, in an update to the Board of Education Tuesday, March 5, FFA adviser Shauna Strecker said plans are moving forward and it is hoped that the greenhouse will be ready by the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
    “We took a step back last summer,” said Strecker, noting that the ag advisory committee wanted to look at plans a little more closely. “We scrapped the whole original plan and started over,” she added.
    In the fall of 2017, the Holyoke FFA chapter was awarded a $25,000 America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. Additional grant moneys for the project have been committed by the Re-1J Foundation and Heginbotham Trust.
    Due to the delay in progress for studying alternatives, Strecker said that the Monsanto Foundation gave the chapter a grace period for implementing the project. She noted that the Re-1J Foundation and Heginbotham Trust have also been understanding with regard to the delay.
    Considerations that were debated include location, size, company to order from, water/gas needs and more.
    The new greenhouse will run north-south on Hale Street between the administration building and the ag shop.
    The Monsanto grant purpose is to enhance STEM education in science, technology, engineering and math.
    While the ag department is behind the project, Strecker said at the time the grant was awarded that she hopes to see the science department use it as well. And she would also like to pair up with the elementary school for the younger students to use the space.
    Superintendent Kyle Stumpf acknowledged that he’s glad they’re taking the time to do this project correctly for the greatest chance of long-term success.
    
Neenan Group looks at Master Facility Plan
    Good discussion was reported from the recent update from the Neenan Group, as presented to the school district’s Budget and Facilities Committee.
    Board member Dusty Sprague told the board last week that the Neenan Group presented an outline for what lies ahead for the school district. “We’re trying to get a handle on our immediate needs and mid-term goals,” Sprague said.
    An updated Master Facility Plan is in order as the district evaluates directions to take.
    Neenan representatives will be in the district all day Tuesday, April 16, talking with teachers, administrators and other small groups. The district would like to put together an open house that afternoon or evening for community members to ask questions, as well.
    Stumpf noted that it seems that the Neenan Group and Schneider Electric representatives (who have addressed energy savings for the district) would work together.
    Addressing various alternatives being looked at, Stumpf emphasized that the Neenan Group will not push a building project that the district can’t afford. They evaluate all aspects for consideration.
    
First-semester random drug testing reported
    Stumpf and Principal Shane Walkinshaw agree that the district’s random drug testing program continues to give kids a reason to say “no” to drugs.
    Reporting on the first-semester RDT program, Walkinshaw noted that 97 tests were given, resulting in no positive tests.
    A total of 176 students were enrolled in RDT as of Dec. 19, 2018. Enrollment is required for participating in extracurricular activities in grades 7-12. Out-of-district students participating on Holyoke sports teams, as well as sixth-graders playing on junior high teams, are required to enroll, as well.
    Walkinshaw noted that 72 percent of the local junior high students and 60 percent of the high school students are enrolled in RDT.
    
Policy discussion includes wellness
    Continued policy discussion was on last week’s school board meeting agenda.
    A school wellness policy was among the revised policies from Colorado Association of School Boards that were introduced for review. It then was included in the group of policies approved on first reading.
    Other policies introduced last week covered the topics of graduation requirements, student organizations and student organizations-open forum. These will return to the March 19 meeting agenda for first reading.
    The CASB policies and regulations presented Feb. 25 that were approved on first reading last week include nondiscrimination/equal opportunity, notification of school board meetings, public participation at school board meetings, bus safety program, student transportation in private vehicles, staff conduct and public conduct on district property.
    Second-reading approval was given by the board for policies and regulations originally presented Feb. 5. Topics included security/access to buildings, school year/school calendar/instruction time, use of video and audio monitoring, and staff conduct (and responsibilities).
    
Other business
    In other business March 5, the school board:
    — Held a 41-minute executive session with Stumpf at the close of the meeting to discuss principals’ evaluations and the superintendent’s contract.
    — Heard a report from board member Jon Kleve on the CASB winter leadership conference. He said it was very politically oriented with such topics as school funding and a uniform mill levy. He also attended break-out sessions on socio-emotional learning and Building Excellent Schools Today.
    — Learned from ag advisory committee member Lucas Schlachter that they would like to see more people involved on the committee by encouraging the implementation of limits to term length. Tim Ortner and Keith Sagehorn will be going off the committee, and they would like to see new people in place by this summer.

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