The Watertown-Mayer School Board accepted a donation from the Watertown-Mayer FFA Alumni Association toward a future greenhouse project at its meeting Monday night. The project’s ultimate goal is to introduce a greenhouse on the Watertown-Mayer High School campus that agricultural classes and FFA students can use.
The project will allow students to grow and manage different crops and vegetables on school grounds. The construction of the greenhouse is scheduled to be completed this summer. The idea for the project was first introduced by former Watertown-Mayer agricultural teacher Russ Runck, who laid the groundwork for several agricultural programs at the school during his time as a staff member. He and other members of the FFA Alumni Association began contributing to a fund for the greenhouse approximately 15 years ago, and in that time, they raised over $200,000 for the project.
Tens of thousands of dollars have also been donated to the fund by Cargill. Other organizations, such as CentraSota, also donated non-monetary to the project, such as seeds and fertilizer.
With the school now preparing to move forward with construction, the association attended the meeting to give its accumulated funds to the school in the form of a donation.
The total amount of the donation was $262,000, with $219,000 coming from the FFA Alumni Association and the remaining $43,000 coming from Cargill through the Cargill Cares Program.
For many years, the Watertown-Mayer School District has been a member of the Minnesota Insurance Scholastic Trust (MIST), through which it gets insurance for its assets. MIST is a member-driven insurance pool that sees its member schools contribute individually to insurance covering all member schools. The pool allows these schools to obtain insurance coverage they otherwise may not be able to afford on their own. After some discussion, the school board unanimously voted to renew its membership with MIST for the 2023-24 school year.
The membership cost for the year will be $246,319.09, an approximately 25% increase from last year’s fee of $196,720.20.
The increase in cost mostly comes from the increase in value that the school’s insured assets have experienced within the last year.
Watertown-Mayer School District has contracted Koch Bus Service, Inc. for its student transportation services for more than a decade.
Koch is a local company based in Waconia, and it also has a satellite location in Watertown. The district’s current contract with Koch is set to expire at the end of the current school year, and in response, the school board unanimously approved a new contract with the bus service.
The new contract with the company is scheduled to last through the end of the 2024-25 school year, with an option to add additional years onto it once the time comes. With the new contract, the daily route cost for regular and special education bus routes will be $371.78 in 2023-24. That cost will go up approximately 4% to $386.65 for 2024-25.
Although Koch has not introduced rate increases for several years, the daily route cost for the upcoming school year will slightly increase from last year’s cost. This increase is being implemented due to increases
that Koch has experienced in wages and equipment costs.
The following staff members were recognized at the meeting for their years of service, as each intends to retire following the conclusion of the current school year.
• Michelle Rosholt, Media Center Paraprofessional – 22 Years of Service
• Patty Reinert, YR Paraprofessional – 23 Years of Service
• John Rosholt, HS Math – 36 Years of Service
• Janet Windsperger, ES Music – 41 Years of Service
The school board thanked each for their years spent with the school district and congratulated them on their retirement.
Aside from the greenhouse project donation, the school board unanimously accepted several other donations. The Watertown Lions Club donated $625 to the Class of 2023 to help pay for Senior Escape Day.
Watertown-Mayer alumnus Emma Grant donated $1,000 to the WM Robotics Club for a new robotics pit. FFA Alumni Association donated $5,000 to the Watertown-Mayer Middle School STEM Program for expenses.
Odds and ends
In other business, the school board:
• Unanimously approved its 2023-24 Parent and Student Handbooks for middle and high school with no substantive changes from last year’s handbooks.
• Unanimously approved the school’s profile of a graduate, which highlights the qualities it wishes to instill in its students upon graduation. The infographic can be found on the school district’s website at www.wm.k12.mn.us.
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