New Bloomfield schools consider new greenhouse, ceiling tiles

The New Bloomfield School District’s Board of Education listened to testimony for two concerns and heard reports of advancement in the schools at its Thursday meeting.

One area of interest was the greenhouse the FFA club and agriculture classes use. Darren Humphrey, the New Bloomfield High School FFA advisor and vocational agriculture teacher, said the current greenhouse is “not functional at all” and presented a possible company the school could work with to build a new greenhouse.

South Callaway High School has worked with the company Humphrey presented, Hummert International, for its two greenhouses. Humphrey used Hummert International as an example for informational purposes and added he is not set on that company just yet.

With about 63 students between two agriculture classes, Humphrey said the need is great for a new greenhouse. The school needs funding for this to happen. Humphrey said Hummert International charges about $20,000 for installation alone.

Humphrey, board members and administrators discussed looking into grants to help pay for a greenhouse as well as the possibility a new greenhouse could take a semester, year or multiple years to fund and build even if the current one is unable to be used.

“I’ve taught without greenhouses before and it’s extremely difficult,” Humphrey said.

Superintendent David Tramel and board chair Gracia Backer requested Humphrey to research more into the issue and create a “wish list” detailing his wants, needs and costs for a greenhouse.

“I’ll keep digging into it,” Humphrey said.

The elementary school has damaged ceiling tiles and Tramel has found new ones at $350 per box. The total cost will be about $17,000 for new ceiling tiles at that rate if the board proceeds with that option. Tramel said the damaged tiles are “visible and stick out like a sore thumb.” The final decision on how to proceed with replacing the ceiling tiles is to be determined.

The board also announced New Bloomfield Elementary received a $1,500 anonymous donation for its buddy pack program. Julie Gerloff, principle of the elementary school, said a buddy pack for one year costs $180.

Gerloff reported to the board that six students are staying after school its new tutoring program on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The tutoring program is not a “homework club,” she said, but an extension of the school day, she added. There is an interest from more students to participate in after school tutoring, but another tutor is needed, Gerloff said. A tutor costs $5,000. Tramel said the school budgeted $10,000 for the tutoring program — $5,000 for the elementary school and $5,000 for the high school.

Jeremy Davdison, principle of New Bloomfield Middle and High School, said high school students who have taken the ACT prep courses two weekends prior to the test have seen improvement. If the students attend the courses, the district reimburses them for their first time taking the test. All students who have attended the prep courses have increased their scores by at least two points, a couple by three and one by four, Davidson said.

Davidson said a growing interest in the ACT will correlate to more students applying for college. He said the score increases have put more students in positions to apply for college scholarships.

The board approved the dates for the New Bloomfield High School graduation and baccalaureate dates. Graduation will be on Friday, May 16. Baccalaureate will be on the previous day, May 15, in the gym. Project Graduation will be after the graduation ceremony and may include laser tag, a photo booth, obstacle course and caricature stand.

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