Rising price tag won’t derail EL-G greenhouse

by Abby Lynn Harvey of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – Several months ago, the Elkhart Lake – Glenbeulah School Board began accepting donations to be used for the construction of a greenhouse.

The project continued to move forward Monday evening with a presentation by Steven Schmitt, of Jos. Schmitt Construction Co., for a greenhouse at a $200,000 projected cost.

An itemized lists of costs was presented to the board, which Schmitt explained could be added to or subtracted from if certain features are deemed unnecessary or are desired.

There was some surprise expressed by the board concerning the cost of the project.

“The $200,000 price-tag actually scares me,” said board member Scott Starnitcky.

It was discussed that the project would be justified due to the various classes which could make use of the greenhouse even beyond agriculture. Culinary Arts and science courses would be able to use the new space to expand their curriculum.

Raising the money, Schmitt said, should be of no concern to the board, as he will take it upon himself to drum up donors, as he has with similar projects for a number of other schools and organizations in the area.

“I feel very comfortable about raising the money,” Schmitt said, going on to list several recent projects he’s raised money for. “I think we can do this, I really do.”

District Administrator Ann Buechel Haack stated that she too initially had reservations about the high cost of the project.

“I think if we can do it it’s great, but we want to be careful not to tap out people for other projects we might want to do. We have to do a balancing act,” she said. “This would probably be about the most I would say we should put into this because there are other projects we want to do.”

The board voted unanimously to allow Schmitt to move forward and continue his fundraising efforts.

Other projects discussed included the installation of a new phone system for the district. The need to replace the phone system came as a suggestion from the Safety Committee as the current system did not allow for school-wide alerts and was unreliable at time.

Starnitcky challenged the need for a new system and an explanation was provided based on the Safety Committee’s recommendation.

The board voted to approve the installation of the system with Starnitcky voting against the measure. It was suggested that he may want to abstain from the vote as his employer was one who had submitted a bid on the project and was not selected. This, it was suggested, may indicated a bias in his vote. Starnitcky stated that no bias existed as he would not have been doing the work had that bid been selected.

Anthony Summers, technology coordinator/IT systems architect for the district, presented on a new suggested pilot program with the Learn Pad tablet.

The Learn Pad address several issues the district has had with the current iPad pilot and allows for a more concentrated learning experience he said. Students using the Learn Pad are unable to view content that has not been approved for the lesson they are currently working on, he explained, which would keep students more focused.

The iPads currently being used by the 7th and 8th grades could be repurposed for use in other grades, if the Learn Pad was found to be a better fit for that age group and the Learn Pads would also work at several grade levels.

The board voted to approve the pilot program unanimously.

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