In response to a series of budget cuts approved by the Warren County R-III School Board in November, members of the community have decided to team up with the district in an attempt to salvage at …
In response to a series of budget cuts approved by the Warren County R-III School Board in November, members of the community have decided to team up with the district in an attempt to salvage at least a portion of eliminated school programs.
The board affirmed its willingness to work cooperatively in that effort, voting 7-0 to pursue a grant for agriculture classes during its latest monthly meeting on Dec. 10. If the funds are able to be raised, the grant would help the district maintain both of its high school agriculture teaching positions — one of which was set to be eliminated in the cuts.
Jeff Schneider, a concerned citizen and alumni of the Warrenton High School FFA, spoke on behalf of a grant committee which formed in response to cuts to the agriculture program.
“Through this whole process, one of the main things that kept ringing clear was we can’t do anything without the support of the (school) board,” said Schneider. “So we were excited to get the support of board and start this conversation.”
Community member Frank Stuermann said he began receiving calls after the November meeting, with members of the community asking him to pursue a conversation with Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith.
“We decided to go talk with Gregg to see what our options were,” said Stuermann. “He was willing, so we sat down and got the ball rolling. I’m so glad the board accepted the community stepping up to help them out.”
During its open discussion, the district administration and board made clear their eagerness to work with the community in trying to avoid having to make cuts.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Klinginsmith. “What a tremendous community we live in, that they’re willing to raise this money to support our kids. I think that’s fantastic. This is not something you hear of happening very often.”
For the grant committee is to achieve its goal, it would need to raise $78,000 by April 1, 2021, in time for a contract to be offered by April 15. This figure reflects the estimated cost of the teaching position, and would have to be raised each year to continually provide a one-year contract.
Schneider said he is confident the group will be able to obtain those funds, preferably by an earlier date.
“We’re meeting as a group again this week to iron out all the details,” said Schneider. “We would anticipate sometime in February to have all the funding collected and facilitated.”
He reported during the meeting that approximately $10,000 had already been raised. If the goal is unable to be reached, the money would simply be returned to donors.
The committee is working closely with the WISE Foundation, which allocates funding toward various needs within the R-III District.
“We just really believe we have the community support, based on all the feedback and comments that had been made,” said Schneider. “We have the support of the community to be able to raise the funds, so that’s the avenue we took.”
“We welcome any sort of outside funding to help support programs for our kids,” said Klinginsmith, who noted that the district would first offer the teaching contract to the existing instructor. “We would not plan on hiring anyone new at this point. We would keep the program offering the same, and go from there.”
Aside from the agriculture programs, the teacher would also instruct a Project Lead the Way course during an hour period in which they do not teach an ag-related course.