Butler school board begins first of many visits to schools
SUMMIT TWP — Just like the students at Summit Elementary School have class outside, the members of the Butler Area School District school board had their session outdoors Monday, Sept. 25.
Instead of having a regular meeting, the board visited Summit Elementary to learn about the school’s initiatives and its programs as a Community Agricultural Partnership School.
Chad Broman, principal of Summit Elementary, said the school started down the path toward an agricultural focus several years ago, and its staff, students and school community have all appreciated the direction.
“If you came in and watch these teachers here and the enthusiasm they have in their classroom ... they build on it and build on it, and the kids are excited,” Broman said. “A couple years ago when we changed to the agricultural focus, a lot of the staff had a choice, if it was something they were interested in, they could stay on. If they didn’t they could go to a different building.
“Most of the staff stayed because they had an interest or a desire to grow in that area.”
The school board typically has two meetings per month where its members review and vote on business. The board didn’t take any voting action Monday, but Brian White, district superintendent, said the board may have more school visits in place of meetings in the future.
The schools throughout the district have different educational focuses that drive student learning, and White said administrators would like to learn from each individual school community what they would like to see developed.
“At each of our meetings throughout the year, we’re trying to gather some information on topics that are important to us,” White said. “We spent a good amount of time at our high school developing a portrait of a graduate and the competencies under that ... we hope to do that at all our schools.”
Several community members, as well as members of the Summit Elementary advisory board attended the meeting Monday. White commented at the end of the session that there was more attendance at the session than the average school board meeting.
Broman discussed the school’s plan to address attendance, as well as its agricultural programming that involves outdoor classrooms, a greenhouse and garden plots around the facility. He also said a plan is in motion to have students from other schools visit Summit Elementary to get a taste of the agriculture lessons they are spreading.
“Once this is operational, we want to make this a destination school,” Broman said. “There are these things called farm bots ... Basically they are computer-operated robots that will plant, water, pick weeds — pretty much anything that a human can do, they are doing.
“Our goal is to allow each of our elementary buildings a section of raised bed that the farm bot will be on, and they will be able to program what they want to plant.”
After a presentation in the gymnasium, Broman led the group on a tour of the school, which included the outdoor learning spaces and greenhouse. Teachers also told the guests specific activities they were leading their students in.
Jennifer Daniels-Wells, vice president of the Butler school board, said Broman’s enthusiasm for the school’s programs was contagious, and she was anticipating the collaboration between schools in the district.
“I’m excited, so I can only imagine how your parents and your students and everybody are just in your presentation tonight,” Daniels-Wells said.