Support for the agriculture program was unanimous at last night’s school board construction meeting, but direction for the program was split. As the board wrestles with space issues and surplus dollars in the construction budget, their decision as to the location of shop space and a greenhouse will determine whether the agriculture program is split between two campuses. A split could mean that approximately 250 students will have to be transported by buses to the old high school campus in order to complete the “hands-on” portion of their courses.
During the meeting the board discussed several options and the position of the members was consistent that the best case scenario was to have a unified high school campus that provides agriculture and horticulture training on the same site as the rest of the high school classes.
Referring to the effort superintendent Mike Murphy said, “ At this time in the life of this community, it’s about setting a tone for the future and that tone is getting all these kids together and celebrating this really big success that you have helped along as a School Board.”
School Board Chair, Robina Bouffault presented detailed information on existing facilities and the proposed shop area in the new high school. Her assessment showed that the new high school represents a reduction in space for the agriculture shop . This point was questioned by Principal Werner based on information from the architect. The discrepancy seemed to arise from Ms. Bouffault’s interpretation of usable space and actual space. In the end, the consensus was that the space represents a slight increase and would have a configuration that allowed for more flexibility.
Talks then turned to the addition of a greenhouse at the new high school. Currently there is a provision for a 5000 square foot greenhouse on the new site. Discussion centered on what the actual size would need to be. A 5000 square foot greenhouse would be 5 times the current size at the high school. Educators in the audience were asked to comment on the proposed size and indicated that 5K was far in excess of what would be needed. The consensus was that the current size of approximately 1000 sqft + a head house (an enclosed building attached to the greenhouse) would be more than adequate.
These points were then wrapped into the big question to educators in attendance. With the proposed agriculture shop space and a new greenhouse, could the agriculture and horticulture classes stay on site? The answer was a resounding yes. This apparent solution to the issue circumvented any further discussion of a larger agriculture building on the north side of Mosby and spurred board member Barbara Lee to motion to pass a resolution in support of building a greenhouse on the new school site.
Chairman Bouffault asked if the motion could be tabled until the next meeting to come up with specifics on the size and cost of the greenhouse. Jennifer Welliver said she wanted to vote on the issue and seconded the motion. Chairman Bouffault was reticent to support the motion stating, “I think that this is irresponsible now. I don’t know the cost I don’t know the size, I can not vote for this now.”
After several other questions the chair asked for a vote on the motion. Jennifer Welliver, Barbara Lee, and Janet Alger voted for the motion, and Robinna Bouffault voted against. Emily Rhodes stated she had not been able to ask all of her questions and after being offered additional time, declined and abstained from the vote.
The motion passed. The board will now need to work with educators and architects to determine the actual specifications for the greenhouse and the estimated cost.