Keefer honored

Elmwood board votes to name building for board member

For The Weekly Post

ELMWOOD – Plans are moving forward rapidly for a new Ag, Trades and Industrial Arts Building at Elmwood High School. And that includes a new name for the proposed addition.

After reading a resolution praising board member Claude Keefer, the board on Monday voted unanimously to name the planned building after Keefer, who abstained from voting but seemed moved by the gesture. When asked for comment, Keefer said haltingly, “I won’t be able to say much.”

Keefer has been a tireless advocate for teaching Elmwood students about industrial arts, agriculture and the trades. His motivation, the 1971 Elmwood grad has said, is because of the good those subjects did for him as a student.

“Everything I’ve done is because of teachers,” Keefer said Monday. “That’s why I’m so committed to the school and the students.”

The board also approved a $47,350 fee to the Farnsworth Group for architectural and engineering studies for the 3,000 square-foot Claude W. Keefer Industrial Arts Building, which is estimated to cost $700,000. Fundraising has so far generated $11,000, with hopes of reaching $350,000.

Board member Mark Davis of the building committee discussed a timeline that would have bid documents ready for the Dec. 19 board meeting. That is necessary, he said, in order to break ground in April of 2023, as is hoped.

Board President Val Ramirez noted that it would be best to have material orders in by January of 2023, “so we can hit the ground running by August.”

The board also voted to continue teaching reproductive health classes as in the past without incorporating new sexual-education curriculum introduced by the state as part of the Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act. Parents can also opt their children out of any sex-ed classes.

Superintendent Chad Wagner discussed the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. The budget is on display and will be voted on at the Sept. 26 board meeting. (Check back next week for a follow-up story.)

Wagner and the board also voted to approve a 10-year extension of Elmwood’s downtown Tax Increment Finance District. Under a current proposal, four taxing bodies – including the school district – would get 50 percent of TIF funds for five years of the extension and 100 percent of TIF funds for the last five years.

In personnel, the board approved: Dianne Burwell as a part-time learning loss specialist for 120 days for $37,398; SheAnna Snider and Diana Ladd as cafeteria aides at $14 per hour; Roberta Foster, Paula Jehle and Robin Thrasher as elementary paraprofessionals at $15 per hour; and Debbi Hutchinson as student facilitator at $14 per hour.

Approved as volunteer coaches were Steve Herridge (junior high girls basketball), Jared Harkness and Brett Morse (JH cross country), Erin Magee and Erin Funk (JH softball), Nicole Briney and Kathleen Conklin (JH cheerleading) and Clay Goreth (football).

After a 59-minute closed session, the board approved 6 percent raises for two years to district bookkeeper Sherry Swindler, whose salary is $57,379 after 17 years on the job. Swindler plans to retire after the 2023-24 school year.