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ABOE begins year with a garden gift and plans

Posted: Wednesday, Jan 16th, 2013

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — A little extra green will help the Alamosa Elementary gardens grow.

On Monday, the Alamosa Board of Education awarded the Alamosa Community Gardens (ACG) $10,000 to keep the program in motion.

“I am so thankful for the generosity of the school board,” said outgoing ACG coordinator Meghan Ibach after the meeting. “It gives me hope for the future of the community that executive members of the community believe in connecting children back to the environment and nature. That is crucial.”

In November, ACG requested the funding, which is not guaranteed beyond this year.

“We are willing to do what we can do,” said ABOE President Bill Van Gieson. “We appreciate what you do.”

The funding will come from the district’s general fund and it will not impact any school building budget, said Alamosa School District Superintendent Rob Alejo in an email on Tuesday.

The ACG has worked with the district for the last 14 years and in the past two years has amplified its efforts. It introduced an interactive curriculum that incorporates Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) subjects that have been requested. The $10,000 will support the ongoing efforts, the ACG staff to teach sixth graders garden and nutrition science and secure other grant monies moving into the future.

Victoria Brunner, who has recently relocated to the Valley from the Boulder area, will take over as ACG coordinator later this month. She has a degree in sustainable business and experience working with school garden programs.

“I think you have huge potential to have one of the most incredible school gardens,” Brunner said.

AGC is also waiting to hear whether they are Clorox Education Grant winners, Ibach said. Clorox is scheduled to make its announcement this month and if ACG wins, new greenhouse plans will come to life.

Building design

Last week, the district held an onsite meeting with the athletic complex/vo ag building project affiliates and continued project design discussions.

The main topic discussion was where the vo ag building will be located, according to Alejo. Instead of attaching the building to the existing high school, the committee decided it would serve the students better if it stood alone to the south between the high school and the solar gardens.

“I am excited about the location as it will lend itself to so many more educational experiences and opportunities,” Alamosa High School Agriculture Education Instructor Kevin Rice said in an email on Tuesday. “Hopefully, we will have a greenhouse and aquaculture lab attached to the building.”

He added plans include room for outdoor learning areas; raised vegetable, garden, and flowerbeds; hands on landscaping; and possible a space for poultry.

“We hope to build a facility the Alamosa School District will be proud of,” Rice wrote. ABOE Official Erica Romero said if the new building was attached to the high school, it would limit future expansion possibilities and take two existing classrooms out of use.

“Across the street will give us room to grow,” Romero said.

ABOE Official Christine Haslett added the vo ag building budget still needs to be put in order. According to the mill levy financial breakdown, costs must come in under $1 million.

“We sent them a call to make it work,” Haslett said. “The challenge is to find the price that fits. I think we can do it.”

Other happenings

•The ABOE signed a resolution naming 2013 “Year of the Student.” The resolution proclaims the district is calling on the members of the 69th General Assembly to create and find funding for a public education finance system that matches reforms, mandates and accountability measures with the resources necessary to make all students successful.

•The ABOE approved the district’s Unified Improvement Plans for the Ombudsman School of Excellence, Alamosa Elementary and the district.

•District Accountability Committee (DAC) President Coleen Astalos reported the DAC is researching the benefits of block scheduling to provide teachers with more planning time; discussing student test data; is working towards prescheduling parent/teacher conferences in the high school in addition to the middle school; and recommending the monies from the school property sales are used to solve education problems.

•The ABOE entered an executive session after the regular meeting to discuss property and personnel matters.

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