Novi Community School District outdoor classrooms and gardening programs will be transformed,
thanks to a one-time Michigan Enhancement Grant.
The Novi Educational Foundation will receive $400,000 as part of the state budget approved Wednesday by legislators. The budget now moves on to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who can make changes using a line-item veto.
“This funding will allow our district to continue creating opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Steve Matthews, the superintendent of the Novi Community School District. “The Novi Educational Foundation is a wonderful partner for our district. Together we find ways to engage and support Novi students to prepare them for today and tomorrow.
“Rep. Kelly Breen of Novi is to be commended for thinking of and supporting Novi.”
Rep. Breen is delighted to see this investment in education coming to her community and the district her children attend.
“I’m ecstatic that this is happening in Novi,“ said Rep. Breen. “My young children are going to benefit from these amazing spaces, and the lessons in these spaces, as will generations to come. This can be a beacon and a model for the rest of the country.”
Breen first became aware of the outdoor garden at Parkview and of Feed the Need as she toured the district.
“I know we dramatically underfund our schools and the NEF fills those gaps,” Rep. Breen said. “The more that we can use the NEF and the outdoor grant to make amazing opportunities for our kids, the more general fund money will have to attend to their needs.”
Jason Smith, the executive director of the NEF, said the outdoor learning space aligns with the mission of the
“The NEF is extremely grateful to state Rep. Kelly Breen for her support of public education and this enhancement grant will change the lives of our NCSD students for years to come. Our mission is to provide additional opportunities for our students.”
Smith said the district’s outdoor learning spaces began with a garden at Parkview Elementary, then Deerfield.
Eventually, gardens and greenhouses were built at every elementary school, through a partnership with Bosch. The vegetables grown at these elementary school gardens aid Feed the Need, an organization that helps feed students in the summer.
“Since 1986, the NEF has supported students in our district because of the generosity of our donors,” said Smith. “This grant is a culmination of more than 35 years of work for our students.”
Dr. RJ Webber, assistant superintendent of academics, said the enhancement grant will transform each elementary outdoor garden, as well as create a revolutionary outdoor learning space at Novi Middle School.
“What if we built an outdoor learning experience that was unlike any other in the country?” he said. “Where we meld the natural world with making and building – whether it’s 3D printing or metal shop or wood shop or tech. And actually, have cameras and solar panels and all kinds of things where people that are not in that outdoor learning space can enjoy it as well.
“I would have never imagined Rep. Kelly Breen would be able to secure $400,000 for us to put towards these initiatives, which will benefit each and every K-4 student and 7-8 student in the district, in beyond just the actual physical learning space, but the technological advances as well.”
Webber sees potential for Novi High engineering students to help create high-quality greenhouses for the younger students to enjoy.
“We buy the materials for the greenhouse,” Webber said. “Our kids design them and then build them on-site.
“We see this as merging of technology and our outdoor environment, of our Next Generation Science Standards and the K-12 science efforts that we made across our district. We see all of those pieces fitting harmoniously. It’s a perfect example of the public-private partnership.”