By Alex Haglund
Nashville Community High School FFA instructor Julie Bond-Ledford spoke to the school board at their November meeting held on the evening of Monday, November 21, and asked for approval to build a greenhouse for use by the FFA.
Having a greenhouse would, “lead to so many hands-on learning opportunities for the students,” Bond said.
The greenhouse would be utilized as a teaching greenhouse, rather than a production greenhouse, so that the students would not be competing with local businesses that already support the NCHS FFA Program.
The horticulture class would be one of the biggest users of the greenhouse, learning to grow and propagate plants, identify them, and do experiments. Introduction to agriculture students would use the greenhouse to begin learning about horticulture.
AgScience students would be able to use the greenhouse to raise fish as part of a functioning aquaculture system. NCHS FFA already has aquaculture tanks that are not currently set up, due to the current lack of a place to house them.
Agriculture business management students would learn about financial situations applying to the aquaculture setup. Finally, The Agriculture Mechanics and Technology course would be responsible for designing and building the building’s watering systems and other needs.
The greenhouse is to be an all-in-one greenhouse kit, purchased from the International Greenhouse Company of Danville. It will either be 18-by-44-feet or 18-by-48-feet and is branded as the “junior teaching package”. Either sized building would fit into the spot Bond proposed, with room to spare.
Bond had requested that the structure be built in a grassy area just to the south of the entrance to the agriculture classroom, after having looked into and decided against a number of other options for various reasons.
NCHS already has a greenhouse as well, and Bond looked into the idea of using that. The sheet she provided the school board with stated that rehabbing the old structure, which Bond referred to as “unsafe for student use,” would cost more than to start fresh would.
Additionally, the old greenhouse is too far from the ag classroom to be easily gotten to for classes, it technically belongs to the biology, not agriculture department, and currently, it is used by the NCHS Drama Department for the storage of building materials.
Bond’s proposal stated that the greenhouse would be fully funded by an Improving Agricultural Education Programs Mini-Grant, donations received by the NCHS FFA Chapter, and by funds raised by the NCHS FFA Alumni. Bond wanted to get the board’s blessing on the greenhouse plan before she went forward with the IAEP grant application.
Tyler Setzekorn, president of the NCHS FFA Alumni, was also present at the meeting, and reiterated the support that the FFA Alumni have for the project, and stated that they would work to help take care of the building after its construction.
The grant that NCHS FFA would be applying for would be for $10,000, and the application is due in January. That combined with donations and the funds raised by the FFA Alumni, would make it so that the greenhouse would be built at no cost to NCHS or the district’s taxpayers.
In addition to scoping out various possible sites for the building, Bond also spoke to the district’s coaches on whether the site selected would cause an issue for them.
The coaches had no major concerns about the building. Board member Paul Barczewski did ask about a baseball hitting the building, an unlikely but possible happening. Bond said that the building’s panels were made of Lexan, not glass, and said that she wasn’t too concerned with durability. It was at this point that Setzekorn spoke up as well, saying that if a panel should be damaged, the Alumni would be working to take care of it at their expense.
Following Bond’s presentation, the board took an informal poll (rather than a binding vote) to determine if there was any opposition to Bond moving forward with the plans. Since Bond had already surveyed the possible sites for the building and spoken with the coaches, they gave her their blessing to continue with the plans.
“Excellent,” said Bond. “My students will be so excited when they hear the news.”
Board President Shawn Cook spoke to the board about the experiencing the community of Nashville, and Nashville Schools, passing through the town as part of the procession bringing the body of PFC Tyler Iubelt to his resting place in DuQuoin from Scott Air Force Base.
Cook, an Illinois State Trooper, was in his vehicle as part of the escort for Iubelt’s procession earlier the day of the meeting, Monday, November 21. In addition to the presence of police, fire and first responder personnel, and of other community members along the route that Iubelt’s procession would take, the students bodies of NCHS and Nashville Primary School also headed to IL 127 to pay their respects.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our community,” Cook told those present at the meeting, “It gave a lot of love and support for Tyler’s family.”
District Superintendent Ernie Fowler told the board that he had been approached by a man who was proposing energy-efficient lighting upgrades for the school.
The proposal was for interior LED lighting, but Fowler stated that unless there was a grant or other way of helping to pay for the steep up-front costs, he did not recommend that the board currently pursue it. He did give board members the information that he was left with.
The board approved the certificate of tax levy for 2016, payable 2017. The levy was first proposed at the last board meeting and was then approved at this one.
The board voted to move all activities accounts to the same depository, Community Trust Bank. Fowler said that there were advantages to having all of the district’s accounts at one bank, and that CTB had served the district well.