FFA Poised to Return to New Knoxville

Assistant Editor

The wheels were set in motion as New Knoxville School is working to bring back a program that has been absent for more than 30 years. On Monday evening, school board members accepted the resignation of industrial arts teacher James Schnarre and looked at options available to fill the position, including the return of FFA.

“Are there things that we want to bring to New Knoxville or are there different things that we want to give opportunities to our students?” Superintendent Kim Waterman said of the thought process. A decision was made to work on bringing back vocational agriculture (vo-ag) and FFA. 

The last time New Knoxville had an FFA chapter was in the spring of 1987. The chapter disbanded that summer and students joined New Bremen’s FFA chapter instead.

Waterman stated the school’s current facilities would be “very conducive” to adding the program back and there was significant student interest according to a survey sent out by administrators. Four-12 Principal Jenny Fledderjohann said there would be five classes added to allow students to participate in the vo-ag program — intro to agriculture, natural resources, plant and animal sciences, livestock nutrition and ag business. She noted 11 students who said they were interested in the first two programs, slightly fewer showed interest in plant and animal sciences and even fewer were signed up for nutrition and business but Fledderjohann was not concerned with the numbers.

“Those (last) two (classes) had smaller numbers, but those are for older kids, so as those younger kids go through there’ll be more and more,” she said. 

Waterman and Fledderjohann noted they are collaborating with Tri Star Director Tim Buschur to develop the program and to guide them through the necessary steps to get the program approved by the Ohio Department of Education. 

During a development meeting a few weeks ago, Buschur sat down with Waterman and Fledderjohann to layout the school’s proposal to the state. Waterman said the meeting went very well.

The next step for the school is to hire a teacher for the program and Waterman said the job would be posted soon so that teacher can weigh in on the direction of the planning. 

Earlier in the meeting, the board noted an upcoming community discussion scheduled for the next board meeting at 7 p.m. on March 23 in the school’s media center. The discussion will pertain to the school’s use of federal Special Education IDEA Part B funds. Community members who would like to have input on the planning of the use of those funds are welcome to provide comments during the public hearing at the March meeting.