Grayslake District 46 pitched on idea of gardening for all students

  • Mary Klees

    Mary Klees

Updated 2/18/2016 4:46 PM

Grayslake Elementary District 46 board members plan to hold further discussion on a proposal to expand gardening opportunities to all students and make it part of their academics.

Mary Klees, who in 2012 helped create the Sprouts garden club at Woodview School in Grayslake, was among the presenters to the District 46 board Wednesday night. Last year, she touted a desire to help build a vibrant Grayslake economy focused on growing and distributing food locally when she made an unsuccessful village trustee run.


Klees pitched the board on the possibility of "scaling up" Woodview's after-school Sprouts program. Under the proposal, gardening would become a project-based part of the academic curriculum at all seven District 46 buildings and tied to Next Generation Science Standards.

"There would be a baseline curriculum in each school and each garden," Klees told school board members.

Klees said some farmers are willing to build a greenhouse, as soon as April at no cost to District 46, if they are allowed to use up to an acre owned by the school system. She floated the idea of the district getting a cut of revenue from the sale of vegetables and herbs grown in the greenhouse, which also would be something for students to use.

However, District 46 board President Steven Strack said more discussion on the proposal is necessary before elected officials can make a decision.

"There are a lot of costs involved, not to mention where it fits into our current (academic) plans for what we're doing, anyway, and where it fits into the budget," Strack said.

District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll said Thursday the idea is worth considering, especially as it relates to Next Generation Science Standards.

"Obviously, we need more information on the costs, timelines and next steps," Correll said. "I would hope that we would take this in small steps."

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Woodview Principal Cathy Santelle said gardening and outdoor learning fit into the need for educators to align teaching to a set of Next Generation Science Standards. The standards emphasize use of engineering techniques, such as asking questions, developing models and analyzing data, to solve problems.

"It's our job to create a curriculum for those expectations and standards," Santelle said.

She said California is a leader in school gardens and that she's been examining research from educators there.

One example is in Santa Clara County, where University of California Master Gardeners offer resources with lesson plans linking curriculum to gardening activities that meet specific state educational standards.

Woodview, which serves kindergarten through fourth grade, has a garden shed for the Sprouts program. After beginning with an herb garden, the club now has raised beds for vegetables, a sunflower area and space for native plants.

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