District 46 board wants more details on greenhouse proposal
Grayslake Elementary District 46 board members say while they support an idea for a school greenhouse, they won't rush into a contract with an indoor farming business to launch the initiative.
Under the proposal pitched to the board by a resident, Grow Well Farms would build the roughly 400-square-foot greenhouse at Grayslake Middle School and rent the taxpayer-owned land for $1. In exchange, the greenhouse would be available for student learning, with the district getting a cut of revenue from Grow Well's vegetable and herb sales.
District 46 would use its share of greenhouse revenue to support an expansion of a gardening program now at Woodview School in Grayslake to all seven buildings for student curriculum matched to Next Generation Science Standards.
At a District 46 meeting Thursday night, Grayslake resident Mary Klees told school board members Grayslake-based Grow Well, which has a nonprofit arm called Growing Healthy People, needs an answer regarding the proposal by April 1. She also addressed the concept with the board last month.
However, District 46 board members say they lack detailed information and won't be rushed into a decision.
"While we all support the concept, we want to make sure we have all the information that we need before we move forward with any specific plans," board President Steven Strack said. "There are some sort of nebulous proposals right now as far as financials and things like that, potential revenue sharing, that sort of thing. But we're just not ready to move forward on anything right now."
Strack added that a detailed proposal will be necessary for further board discussion.
District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll said the greenhouse must be vetted by the Lake County Regional Office of Education and undergo a village of Grayslake review before it could be built. The greenhouse would have to be on concrete and connected to the middle school's gas line for heat, she added.
"I'm not sure that we could get all of this done by April 1st," Correll said. "There seems to be a lot of things involved."
Last year, Klees touted a desire to help build a vibrant Grayslake economy focused on growing and distributing food locally when she made an unsuccessful run for village trustee. She told the District 46 board Thursday that some private schools also are interested in a greenhouse partnership with Grow Well Farms.
If Grow Well could not strike a deal with a school, Klees said the business likely would find land to lease.