The Ketchikan School Board on Wednesday unanimously approved a motion accepting a grant of up to $12,000 from the local U.S. Coast Guard to help build a greenhouse at Fawn Mountain Elementary School.
School principal Alonso Escalante explained that the facility would be more than a simple greenhouse. He said “grow house” is a more accurate term.
“Because, we’re not really looking at building a greenhouse,” he said. “We’re looking at building something that has the artificial lights and potential heat source and whatnot, so we can grow greens through the winter and then supplement those greens into our salad bar.”
Grant funds to build the facility will come from the Coast Guard’s annual Haunted House, and Escalante said local contractors and businesses are interested in donating time and material, as well.
“One has offered to donate everything to insulate the building and the structure,” he said. “Master gardeners in town have offered to come out and help with their expertise, and they’ve already have come out and given us ideas on what we want to think about as we’re developing the plans.”
Escalante told the School Board that Coast Guard officials have said they’d like the building up and running by December, so that this year’s students will benefit.
The School Board heard from Superintendent Robert Boyle that enrollment was up by about 80 students on Wednesday, the first day of school.
Enrollment numbers tend to drop in the first couple months, and the official student count to determine state funding isn’t until October. But, Boyle said, it’s unlikely that enrollment will drop drastically enough to affect the district budget, which is built in late spring based on an estimate of how many students the district thinks it will have in the fall.
The next Ketchikan School Board meeting is Sept. 14.