Officials search for ways to keep watershed course
Students in summer program explore Milwaukee River
Shorewood — An unorthodox class that promotes environmental awareness will likely return next summer in the Shorewood School District, despite ongoing fiscal restraints.
The School Board last week directed Superintendent Blane McCann to attempt to shift dollars within the 2010-11 budget to fund Watershed Wisdom, an 11-day course designed to incorporate writing, physical challenges and environmental awareness.
Watershed Wisdom, offered in the past to outgoing Shorewood High School sophomores and juniors for class credit, encompasses hiking, biking and canoeing around the Milwaukee River watershed. Participants write about their experiences and present their findings the following fall during a presentation to fellow classmates.
Because of ongoing challenges in crafting the budget, district officials had contemplated continuing Watershed Wisdom, but funding it through the recreation and community services department, rather than the general budget that affects daily operations throughout the district. The proposal, however, would have meant discontinuing the provision for course credit and the likelihood of watering down components within the program.
At the same time, a vocal group of parents have pledged a fundraising effort to help fund the program, though that effort has not yet picked up enough steam to make the course self-sustaining.
In an effort to maintain the integrity of the program, and allow fundraisers more time to help with funding, the board pledged support to continue with Watershed Wisdom in its existing iteration in summer 2011, provided money within the district's budget can be shifted.
McCann said the district in the past has provided $16,000; an additional $2,000 in consumable fees also have helped fund the initiative.
Watershed Wisdom has been backed by McCann and other district officials because it gives students an opportunity to learn beyond the traditional classroom setting.
"Today is not the time to eliminate a course offering with the potential to shape the future learning experiences of our students," McCann said. "It is a time to allow non-traditional instructional practices to be nourished and nurtured."
- Dave Fidlin
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