Mitchell Technical Institute agriculture programs continue to be in high demand, creating a "good problem" and expansion of campus facilities.

John Heemstra, MTI vice president and Title IX coordinator, together with Jared Hofer, financial comptroller, presented on Monday their vision and a preview of a new $7 million facility that will sit on the west side of the Nordby Trades Center. The discussion was held the regular meeting of the Mitchell Board of Education,

"We recognized that we needed a dedicated lab and facility that will enable our students to work on projects they currently cannot do because of limited space," Heemstra said. "I think this new facility would give us that opportunity."

The agricultural programs at MTI continue to see high student enrollment numbers, with about 94 students enrolled in the ag program for the spring semester and 35 students enrolled in the precision technology classes.

The unveiling of the project to the public and agriculture industry representatives is planned for noon on March 13 in the lower level lobby of the Nordby Trades Center on the MTI campus.

"We will be inviting industry representatives, the Board of Education and we will have a presentation by the team at MTI that have been working on this," Heemstra said.

The MTI and the MTI Foundation are working with several supporters, businesses and organizations to begin the process of raising the needed funds for the building.

"Ideally one option would be to fund the entire project through donations; the second option would be a combination of local bonding, reserve funds and donations," Heemstra said. "The third would be to use local bonding and donations."

Heemstra hopes to add a building with approximately 50,000 square feet that is unique and could also be used by industry partners for special events for training and presentations.

There is no set time frame for the completion of the project.

"It all depends on the funding," Heemstra said. "Realistically it could take two to three years."

Members of the Mitchell school board were excited to learn more about the expansion project and thanked Heemstra and Hofer for their efforts.

"It's just one more sign of the expanded programming and student enrollment at MTI," Superintendent Joe Graves said. "We're just totally in demand and have so much going on, which is a great problem to have. We just have to figure out how to get that money and those buildings."

Personnel

As part of a consent agenda that includes board minutes, claims and open enrollment, the board approved the following personnel items:

• New Hires: Nikki Hohn, paraeducator at GBR, $14 per hour, 7.25 hours per day, effective Jan. 31; Amy Hurley, general food service at GBR, $12.45 per hour, 5.5 hours per day, effective Jan. 29; Janelle Ferrie, paraeducator at MMS, $11.07 per hour, 7.25 hours per day.

• Resignations: Kelsey Range, paraeducator at MMS, effective Feb. 14; Julie Reichert, second grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary, effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year; Joseph Shepardson, sixth grade math, ELA teacher and head track and field coach, effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

• MTI resignation: David Reuland, MCTEA automotive instructor, effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

Other business

In other business, the board:

• Recognized Joe Childs as the South Dakota High School Principal of the year, as presented by the South Dakota Association of Secondary School Principals.

• Confirmed current Mitchell Middle School teacher Chris Gubbrud as the new principal of Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary. Gubbrud will replace Vicki Harmdierks, who is retiring as GBR principal at the end of the school year.

• Approved the proposed calendar for the 2019-20 school year that calls for 176 days of school, with 84 in the first semester from mid-August to December, and 92 days from January to mid-May.