The "construction" program gives students hands-on training in various skills used to maintain or even build a home: basic wiring, putting in sheet rock, remodeling a bathroom.
The course was originally designed for students who were at risk of either dropping out or flunking standard lecture classes. Soon, however, everyday students discovered the value of being able to fix up a house or work in a skilled trade. And true to the program's original intent, some kids who had difficulty memorizing a book said they found themselves excelling, learning by doing.
Recently, Habitat for Humanity, which has been short of volunteers, had received help from the building trades program. And the building trades program, short on projects, partnered with Habitat. Habitat officials, who provide construction materials while the school provides student contractors, say this is one of Ottumwa's finest win-win situations.
Shafer said he wasn't shy about sharing that opinion with the school board. He said he felt good about his presentation Monday but told the Courier, "I am still concerned."
Now, said Eidahl, board members have a tough decision: Choose one way and they've put a valued teacher out of work, even if it is temporary, and the program doesn't happen next year. The other way, they could be wasting money for a teacher without students. Perhaps the board will discover a third, better option as they ponder "many factors," Eidahl said, related to their final decision.
There has been no official vote by the board yet, he said.
"They're writing a finding statement. Their decision will be made and announced in an open meeting within five days of Monday evening's hearing," Eidahl said.
— News reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark