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M-G explores renovation progress

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PROGRESS: What will be part of the agriculture space is coming along.The focus has beenon equipping it with ample electricity, ventilation and water supply. The new ag teacher will ultimately determine how the space will be used.
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GAZE: Members of the Madison-Grant school board as well as Hannah Lyon, the newly hired agriculture teacher who will begin this summer, look at what will be the renovated chemistry lab. The lab is scheduled to be done by the time students return from spring break.

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@chronicle-tribune.com

FAIRMOUNT -- Madison-Grant Principal Ben Mann, Superintendent Scott Deetz and Assistant Superintendent Steven Vore took board members on a tour of the Jr./Sr. High School Monday night, to go over the progress of building renovations.

Renovations to the chemistry lab, bathrooms, agriculture space, as well as a new secured entrance to the high school and new main office have been ongoing.

The hope is to have the chemistry lab finished by the time students get back after spring break. Mann said there will be around eight or nine stations in the room.

The new M-G agriculture hire, Hannah Lyon, who will begin her teaching career this upcoming summer was also present on the tour.

As of now, the new agriculture space has been gutted but is essentially being used as a workshop and staging area for the construction crew as they make their way around the high school.

Deetz said they have made progress with the area and it is reaching completion though it may not look like it at the moment. This because they want to leave it up to the new agriculture teacher on what to do with the space. The focus has been on equipping it with ample electricity, ventilation and water supply.

When complete, he said the area will be able to house a variety of courses from welding and small engine repair to horticulture and anatomy.

The goal is to have the new main office and secured main entrance complete by the times classes resume after spring break. After the main office moves over to its new location, Deetz said construction will begin in the current main office to freshen up the place.

Once summer hits, the central office staff will then move into where the current main office is located. Following that move, Deetz said they will begin aggressively looking for a tenant to take over what is now the central office, with hopes for a small business such as an insurance company or small medical office to move in.

He said they have been working with the Grant County Economic Growth Council to make that happen.

Along with a new chemistry lab, agriculture classroom, main office and renovated bathrooms, Mann and Deetz made note of hopeful furniture changes in the library, renovating what was the Junior High media room into a collaboration space with a soundproof study room, as well as sanding down the gymnasium floor to paint a new design.

Additionally, as they make progress around the school, Mann said they have plans to get the carpet off of the walls that dates back to the 60s and 70s.

So far, even while construction is taking place during school, Deetz said everything has been progressing smoothly. Bowman Inc. has been the contractor for the renovations and the team has quite a few people who are M-G grads making the project a bit closer to home.

“It makes it even more special because a lot of these guys working on areas are changing things that they were actually seeing in high school, so it’s been special for everybody,” Deetz said. “It’s been really neat, the various things we’re working on really elevates our identity in who we are and what we’re trying to do for kids not only today but also for tomorrow.”

Mann said the contractors have been wonderful to work with as they understand that the school’s first priority is educating students. When teachers ask for construction in certain areas of the school to be put on hold because of noise levels or activities going on inside the classroom, Mann said the construction team has been great about moving to a new area to allow that to happen.

As the projects progress, Mann said it’s good to see everything coming together, and it’ll all be worth it in the end.

“It’s tough any time you go through this, but it’s like I’ve told our teachers from the very beginning, short-term pain for some long-term gain, and we will all be much better served once the renovations are complete,” he said.

The board also reviewed a farm rental agreement that has been held with a farmer regarding 17 acres of farmland located behind the track and football fields. Now that the school has hired Lyon to teach agriculture, the hope is to use the land for courses such as soil judging in the future.

For now, however, the school wanted to renew the rental agreement with Isaac Gough to extend the contract another year for $3,700 with half the rent due by April 1 and the second half after harvest, no later than Dec. 31, 2019. Following this year-long extension, Gough has agreed to work with Lyon on future plans for the land.

The board also approved the school calendar for the 2019-20 school year after sending out three different options for consideration by the school staff and the community.

After more than 300 collective votes, an option that includes two teacher days rather than one, parent-teacher conferences as e-learning days, a week-long fall break, e-learning days on MLK Day and President’s Day and a seven school day spring break was the winner. This means the last student day will be May 20 with the last teacher day on May 21.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.