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Greenhouse project draws crowd

Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 8:33 am

Superintendent Chris Felmlee presents Transportation Director Charlie Stroker with an Exemplary School Bus Maintenance Award.

Several residents attended the Van-Far School Board meeting to support the districts’ Future Farmers of America greenhouse project.
The board held its regular meeting at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, August 23.
“This is our second chance to get a greenhouse for the district,” Kevin Motley, former board member and resident in attendance of the meeting, said.
“Not only do I think this is an  excellent opportunity for our agriculture kids, I think it could be used by the science department and definitely for the elementary kids.”
Tim Kurz, Loralee Adam, and Ryan Nelson also voiced support for the project.
Estimated at a grand total of $39,293.90 to purchase and install, Van-Far is set to receive 75 percent funding for the house’s structure and 50 percent funding for necessary equipment from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The state will chip in $20,748.95 total, with the school district covering the remaining $18,544.95.
The structure of the greenhouse will cost the school district $3,883.50 with the state covering $11,650.50 for a total of $15,534. Equipment is estimated to reach a total of $18,196.90 with the state and Van-Far splitting the cost equally at $9,098.45.
A 24’-by-48’ greenhouse, purchased from the Greenhouse Megastore, is planned with a steel frame, and a polycarbonate roof and sides — which are rated for 15 years before needing to be re-coated. The greenhouse would sit on a concrete slab.
For a sample budget, Agricultural Instructor Taryn Dameron said starting in the summer, mums and poinsettias would be planted for sale in September. She said in October plans would be put in motion for a spring sale in April. Poinsettias would be sold again in November with another round of plantings prepared in January for the spring sale.
“On a monthly basis, we would maintain plants — water, fertilize — and that’s where we would go out there and do the labs for the classes to enhance the curriculum,” Dameron said
Annual budget expenses for the for the greenhouse including the purchase of flowers and supplies, and labor expenses are estimated at $3,377.19. Monies incoming from the sale of the flowers could be expected to reach $4,244 for a net gain of about $866.
“Where the greenhouse fits most importantly is in the class instruction,” Dameron said. “This money is not something that the school puts back into their FFA account, it’s not something we’ll put into our FFA account — this is the nest egg for the next year.”
Superintendant Chris Felmlee requested the board to table an action to approve the greenhouse project until proper bidding was completed and a wage order had been received. Bids are due Wednesday, September 5.
Supporters of the project expect enough volunteers to cover installing the greenhouse at no cost to the district, as donations are also expected from community members to lessen the overall cost to the district, which actually had not budgeted the project.
The board scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, September 6, to vote on the project. Voting was fast tracked from next month’s regular meeting, as concerns arose of the timetable for funding. With a September start, the greenhouse would need to be finished in January to receive funding and start curriculum in the spring semester. A full report is needed in March after classes start within the greenhouse to finalize state funding.
Superintendent Felmlee said the school district received a 14-out-of-14 on its annual performance report, which is the second running year the district received a perfect score.
Superintendent Felmlee presented Transportation Director Charlie Stroker with an Exemplary School Bus Maintenance Award for receiving a 100 percent score the annual school bus maintenance inspection.
For summer maintenance, Superintendent Felmlee said roof construction continues but is near complete with the surface of the roof being finished ahead of schedule. Metal capping for the roof needs completion and air conditioner units need to be put installed.
Work on mortar replacement between bricks on the districts’ facings continues with the bricks needing replacement correctly matching.
Wrapping pipes for the new boilers and bringing the boilers online with the entire system will conclude the boiler replacement project started also during the summer.
Technology Coordinator Tony Lower presented a technology self evaluation.
For Van-Far technology, Lower said more than 700 users connect more than 350 devices to the internet within the district. Work has been done to replace worn machines, with those machines being available for sale as surplus items. He said other work has been completed to update servers and software, which he said he strives to keep up-to-date.
Ryan Morris, maintenance supervisor updated the board on facilities and safety in his self-evaluation.
At the high school, Morris said a new key system is in place that is more efficient in tracking the issuance of keys, which aids in facility safety. He said locks also have been replaced, adding to facility safety as well. Key and lock updates occurred at both the elementary and high school buildings.
Morris also reported that wiring updates have been completed, as well as updates to the fire system in both the elementary and high school, which includes news strobes and horns. He reported that several bathroom renovations have been completed, new doors were placed on the weight room entrance — which was a safety concern — and other door replacements for rooms in need occurred.
Morris said he replaced carpet in the high school office and elementary music room with tile to address mold issues.
He said the boys basketball locker room was revamped to include a coach’s office that’s separate from the locker room, and a new sound system was installed in the high school gym for basketball games.
At the elementary school, Morris said nine heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units were replaced.
Morris said he also worked on eliminating unnecessary seams on the surface of the roof to aid in the current construction.
He said 15 white boards replaced either old chalkboards or shower boards.
The prekindergarten playground is in with new batting cages in the elementary school gym.
The walk-in coolers at the elementary building were taken apart, power washed, and bleached.
Morris said upcoming items include air conditioner units for the computer and server rooms, an air conditioner update in the elementary basement, and the replacement of the non-functioning clock system at the elementary school.
At the high school, Morris said the kiln in the art room will shortly be installed.
Board Treasurer Larry Wheeler asked where students go in the case of tornadoes. He was told students move to the hallways at the high school and to the  basement at the elementary building. Wheeler voiced concern over the use of the hallways at the high school noting the potential of student deaths during a tragedy similar to Joplin had students taken shelter in the hallways.
Wheeler was reassured that the hallways in the high school are the safest available place for the students.
Board President Christy Nelson asked about the progress of the bleachers for the elementary school gym. Nelson was told the bleachers need minor repairs but should be placed in the gym by the start of basketball season.
High School Principal Cindy Pirch said homecoming is set for September 22. Pirch reported that Joe Basinger was the new business education teacher, who will start the school’s first Future Business Leaders Association of America chapter. Pirch also introduced Kylie Stevenson, who is completing her teaching certificate. Stevenson will be teaching in the history department as a student teacher this year.
The character trait for the month is honor, and the “CHIPS” child identification program will be held October 13.
Elementary Principal Amber Crane said scholastic inventory testing of reading and math has been completed — which establishes proper level of instruction for the Success for All program to start the last week of August. Felmlee said the program gives students what they need to be successful on state testing. Crane reported that the new band instructor is meeting with elementary students to organize the elementary school band, and student led parent-teacher conferences will start in the spring.
Board Director Jim Hopke said he had spoken with persons making claim to the inadequacy of newer math instruction, which provides alternate ways to address problem solving, being taught now in some high schools.
Crane told Hopke that “Everyday Math,” which is the method taught at Van-Far, increased the district’s overall math scores.

The board voted unanimously to set the operating tax levy at $3.3486 and debt service levy at .6514 cents for a total tax levy of $4 per $100 assessed value. Superintendent Felmlee said the tax levy has remained unchanged for three if not four years.
The board unanimously approved the fuel and oil bid from MFA Oil. Abel’s was expected to bid, however, did not.
Fuel and oil prices per gallon for the district are:
$3.455 for unleaded gasoline
$3.615 for diesel fuel
$10.70 for Dexron transmission fluid
$9.50 for Allison approved transmission fluid
$11.40 for 15/40 weight diesel oil in cases of 24 quart cans, or $10.20 from a 55 gallon drums
$7.15 for summer coolant from 55 gallon drums, or $7.95 from case lots, and $19.19 for extended life IHC approved coolant
Felmlee said the prices set are based on the prices found the day the contract was bid on and are subject to change based on the market.
Concerns were made by board members concerning taxes the district is required to pay for its fuel purchases. The board feels the district should be tax exempt as a public entity.
The board also voted unanimously to accept duel credit agreements with Lincoln University, Moberly Area Community College, and Central Methodist University.
A unanimous vote passed participation in the “Model Educator Evaluation System,” which offers technical assistance to schools piloting new performance-based evaluations for the school year in progress.
A unanimous vote passed an approval for the “Success for All” contracts,  which help cover development of the reading program. For the elementary program, the contract amount is $14,850.70, which is paid through budgeted monies. The junior high school contract amount is $12,542.10, which will be paid through federal funds.
The board unanimously passed a resolution for pre-payment of “Bond Series 2009.” The pre-payment covers $100,000 of debt to reduce interest rates and interest paid by the district.
In its executive meeting, the board voted unanimously to hire Terri Jungers to help teach dual-credit business courses during the 2012-13 school year.