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NB school board eyes new greenhouse, lighting grant

NB school board eyes new greenhouse, lighting grant

October 18th, 2013 in News

Whether they're inside or outdoors, New Bloomfield Board of Education members hope to shed some extra light on the district's students.

During its Thursday meeting, the board agreed to look into funding avenues for a new greenhouse and pursue a state loan to help install high-efficiency fluorescent lighting in its schools.

Superintendent David Tramel said the school's greenhouse, which was installed about two years ago, had yet to be fully used due to damage to the structure and that "at this point, it's less of a greenhouse and more of a falling-down house."

"(FFA Advisor) Darren Humphrey's ready to admit that he's tried to do everything he can to fix it ... but it's a combination of a cheap design and the extremely hot summer when we put it in that have completely destroyed it," Tramel said. "It's not functional and not suitable for the program."

The board agreed to help fund the new greenhouse. Tramel noted the FFA an agriculture programs at the school have cost the board little out of the budget as Humphrey is active in eliciting community donations, seeking state grants and even funding projects out of his own pocket.

"It's time for us to step up, and support a program that's top notch and one of the best here," said board member Craig Abbott.

Tramel also sought the board's blessing to continue with applying for a low-interest loan from the state to install new high-efficiency lights in the district.

Though Tramel has the authority to apply for loans on his own, it requires board action to accept should the school be approved. He said he wanted to make sure the board was interested in potentially going forward with the project in January should the state award the loans.

The $132,000 project would install the fluorescent lights throughout the district - primarily to replace the fixtures for the elementary school, which Board President Gracia Backer called "awful."

Tramel said that if budgeted appropriately, repaying the loans would be done through the energy savings to the district, and the project would bring a significant energy savings to New Bloomfield's schools once the loans were paid off.

The light quality would also be improved, which Tramel said studies show make "a huge difference in the classroom" along with air quality.

"The only downside is you had better add paint to the budget," Tramel said. "The lighting is so much brighter you can see every place you've touched up in the last 10 years."

Abbott said he would also be interested in replacing the ceiling tiles at the elementary school, which he said were equally old and outdated.