FAIRMONT - Fairmont Area Schools is set to begin taking students into Ag Academy and FFA.
The school board approved the new programs Tuesday night.
The agriculture classes will be offered to students for high school credit, while FFA is an extracurricular leadership program only offered to students who have taken an ag class.
The programs are funded by a committee of community members who agreed to pay $100,000 per year for three years to start the program. They began fund-raising in the last week of December, and have raised all of the first year funds and most of the funding needed for the second and third years.
Principal Dave Paschke said students will be given the opportunity to register for seven agriculture classes. Courses actually offered will be those in which enough students register. At a minimum, the district will offer exploring agriculture and agriculture leadership. Other possible courses include agriculture business and economics; principles of animal science; principles of plant science; wildlife management; and landscaping.
The district will begin searching for an ag teacher and FFA leader, and the person ultimately hired may have some say in final course decisions.
"We may do some tweaking once we have a teacher," said Paschke, adding that some of the ag courses could be taught by current teachers.
Both administration and the community committee supporting the program have expressed surprise and pleasure at how quickly funds were raised to implement the agriculture classes.
"It is a perfect example of how much can be accomplished when we work together," said school board member Sandy Beckendorf.
The board also approved the high school's course options list Tuesday, adding options in art, math and business.
Paschke said there are about 150 classes described in the listing, but classes actually offered will be determined by the number of students who sign up.
Board member Julie Laue expressed some concern about the possibility that so many students will sign up for ag classes that other electives will suffer. Paschke told her he is confident there will be enough classes for everyone, as there are many students enrolled in study hall currently, and many of the elective courses are filled to capacity.