NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo High School-based Building Trades Program should have plenty of places to build homes in the coming years.

The New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education during an Aug. 5 special meeting voted to offer a total of $290,000 for two adjoining parcels of land along Lubke Road near the Elementary School for the district’s Building Trades Program (which includes students from various area districts).

The vote to offer $235,000 to members of the Conway family for seven acres at 12332 Lubke Road was approved by a 4-2 vote (with Lisa Werner and Trish Newton voting no)

Werner said while she values and appreciates the Building Trades Program, she disagrees “with the purchase of this property because of the unknowns of the development costs, the cost of the development, the undeveloped land that we don’t know so many things about or what’s going to happen or who we’re going to partner with.”

The board then voted 5-1 (with Newton opposing) to offer sellers from the same family $55,000 for a 1.06-acre parcel at 12346 Lubke Road.

Superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie said on Aug. 7 that the offers had been accepted.

Following the Aug. 5 meeting, Leslie said he hopes the 8-plus acres will provide the Building Trades Program with “15 to 20 years” worth of lots to build homes on.

“We really want to be able to help with affordable housing, obtainable housing (for full-time residents) in the community. Ideally I’d like to be able to build houses for like $225,000,” he said, adding that the square footage will likely be in the 1,300 range.

Leslie said the district will next have to find a developer to help put some infrastructure in at the site.

He said a lot along Cody Street recently donated to the district by Grand Beach Land Development is where the next Building Trades project is planned.

In another Aug. 5 matter, the Board of Education agreed to hire Lisa Ziel as a first-grade teacher.

New Buffalo Elementary School Principal Adam Bowen said Ziel (who taught summer school in New Buffalo about five years ago) was the top choice of a panel that interviewed the six applicants after a teacher moved to Chicago.

A fifth-grade teacher in the St, Joseph district (E.P. Clark Elementary) for the past five years (and a teacher for the Chicago Public Schools before that), Ziel said she lives close to New Buffalo Elementary School and “it’s always been a dream to work here.”

“I’ve just heard great things and my kids (ages 1 and 3) are going to go here in a couple years so I’m going to be a parent and teacher, so I’m super excited.”

Also on Aug. 5, the board accepted with regret the resignation of Madeline Selby as a BASE after-school program administrative assistant (effective July 27, 2021).

In a letter, Selby said she is extremely grateful to have worked at such an incredible school for the past 11 years, adding “I hope that me departure is temporary.”

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