Conant considers building greenhouse

  • Director of Student Services David Beauchamp talks in favor of bringing a greenhouse to Conant High School during Monday’s School Board meeting.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, March 30, 2017 6:27AM

The Jaffrey-Rindge School District is looking into erecting a greenhouse at Conant High School to offer a number of programming opportunities for students. 

The initiative was brought to the School Board on Monday by Director of Student Services David Beauchamp and a group of Conant High School faculty.

Beauchamp said the concept for a greenhouse at the high school came after receiving a $20,000 grant in January to explore special education programming opportunities. The conversation quickly evolved into creating a larger project that would allow for STEM classes, inclusionary activities, and more. 

“The best special education programming is a great regular education program, it’s all about relevance,” said Beauchamp, during the meeting. “[The greenhouse] is not just good for the identified youngsters, it will be good for all kids.”

While the School Board seemed to be in support of the greenhouse – which carries an estimated installation cost of $64,000 – a number of quetions will need to be answered before the project gets a green light.

Beauchamp also said there was an estimated cost of $3,000 per year to heat the greenhouse. 

For the district to utilize the grant, the project would need to be completed in the current fiscal year. Outside of that $20,000 no concrete funding structure was proposed, although Beauchamp said a combination of about $30,000 available in the Durant Fund, $300,000 in current special education surplus funds, fundraising, and other sources could be used to complete the project. 

Another issue for the district would be where to place the greenhouse. Beauchamp said the best option would be to place it in the front of Conant High School, but that would involve having to remove a module that a few classes are housed in.

Beauchamp said he found someone to take the module for free and that the footprint left behind would offer enough space to place the greenhouse (the current structure is 28 by 65 feet, with the greenhouse estimated to be 24 by 48 feet). Superintendent Reuben Duncan siad that with some shuffling around, the school could absorb the classrooms head in the module in other locations. 

Board chair Laurel McKenzie felt the project was a great idea, but said she would hate to rush a project to take advantage of a $20,000 grant. McKenzie said she felt it would be better to try to include the project in next year’s budget planning process. 

Beauchamp and a number of Conant teachers commented on the potential educational impact of having a greenhouse on campus, saying many classes — including art, business, and science — could implement lesson plans utilizing the space. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.