BRAWLEY – With a room filled with Brawley FFA members, citizens supporting the FFA, and the FFA Executive Board, the BUHSD School Board voted unanimously to approve a temporary Agricultural Department Animal Farm to be built on the school’s north lot next to the Ag greenhouse.
Superintendent Hasmik Danielian said, “We have been working diligently for a full year, exploring all options, and now we are bringing to the board a recommended plan to locate the Animal Farm temporarily on our property north of the campus. We will continue to meet bi-monthly with the Ag Executive committee to find a permanent solution. “
One of the reasons cited for the temporary nature was the north lot eventually would not have enough space to accommodate all of the animals.
The Ag Department had asked to locate closer to the school so as to make the program more inclusive for students and to ensure the safety of those that drive due to the dangerous location of the previous animal farm off of Highway 78.
Trustee Ceci Dial asked about the financial cost the district will incur for just a temporary solution.
Maintenance chief Randy Smith said $50,000 to $60,000 will be spent to give them the new facility which includes moving the old portables out to provide the space needed.
Smith said that this needed to be done anyway to replace two dilapidated portables that are next to the old gym, so that cost should not go on the Ag bill.
Smith continued that sewer and power is already installed, but they needed to pour concrete pads, install drains, provide lighting and run water around the perimeter of the pen areas to provide running water to each pen.
“The District has agreed to assume all these costs so the Ag Department can continue to fundraise for their permanent site,” Smith said. “All this will be done before next school year. “
When questioned about aquiring pens, Agricultural Teacher Michelle Taylor answered there were moveable pens at the old location, and they planned on purchasing more or have the welding class build the rest of the pens.
Mikey Garcia, whose daughter is in FFA, donated their pens to the cause.
Trustee Fernandez asked about the safety and security of the facility.
Taylor said the students involved would sign a contract as they have in the past to honor the rules which included the hours of operation from sunup to sundown, the facility would remain locked when schools was out but those with business on the farm would be issued keys.
Danielian agreed, “We will work out with executive committee all the rules and policy once there was board approval.”
BUHS Principal Simon Canales added, “The short term plan is the best so we are not to be shoved into something that isn’t the best. By voting for a temporary solution, the school holds open all the different options.”
Conditional Use Permit (CUP)
The board also voted to forego obtaining a Conditional Use Permit from the city of Brawley. That path would delay having the pens ready for this coming season and if the plans were denied, the appeals and filing fees would add expense and time to the process. The school could not get a CUP and have the farm ready in time.
Danielian informed the board that since the farm will be temporary, the city doesn’t require a conditional use permit.
Danielien consulted with Sanders Architect and the firm recommended not applying for a CUP. If the school ever decided to make the farm permanent, then a CUP would be obtained.
Fernandez asked if a CUP was necessary to pour a cement slab and was informed a CUP was not needed to pour concrete.
However the concrete to be poured will be thickened on the edges and reinforced so eventually the pads will be able to hold future portable classroom expansion.
Craig Elmore, part of the Executive Board for the FFA, asked if the extra costs to pour concrete as foundation for an eventual portable classroom would be charged to the FFA cost. He was assured that it would not.
The animal occupancy will be from October until the fair begins in late February.
After the vote, the FFA club provided root beer floats for everyone.
As a bonus, Mikey Garcia asked the board to donate the two old portables, presently located next to the gym, to the Imperial Valley Humane Society and they agreed.