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BSB approves new food company for student meals

By Liz Woll, 06/12/19 8:42 AM

BLEVINS – The Blevins School Board met Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Administration Building. All officers were quickly re-appointed to their previous positions, and the board moved on to approve the last meeting’s minutes.

The first order of business was reviewing financials. The only thing Superintendent Stephanie Dixon felt needed mentioning was the unanticipated compensations granted to departing teachers for their unused vacation days. Otherwise, the superintendent expressed confidence in the school’s fiscal standing upon the conclusion of the school year.

The next order of business was an amendment to the high-priority bonus. This bonus, meant to encourage and retain the hiring of teachers in low-income areas, was approved at last month’s meeting. However, upon further inspection, it was realized that the figures on the approved bonus were off slightly. The board approved the amended draft and moved on.

Next up was the review of the school district’s audit. The review went quickly as the audit had already been accepted, the only concern being a potential typo in the long report. Dixon did not express surprise at a potential error, mentioning the audit had felt a bit rushed.

The hiring of a part-time career coach was then discussed. This career coach would be responsible for coordinating with UAHT, as well as helping students find and apply for scholarships, aiding students in signing up for the ACT/SAT, and guiding both students and their parents through filling out their FAFSA. Several members of the board voiced their concern that more students weren’t applying for scholarships, and seemed hopeful that opening this position would be a step in the right direction. The position was approved unanimously.

Another quick order of business was the approval of the next school year’s graduation date. The day of May 15, 2020, was proposed and approved.

Next was the approval of the Child Nutrition Procurement Plan. In short, it is a set of standards for the selection and purchase of food that the school district must agree to uphold. It was surprising to most of the board that there was not an agreement of this sort already in place. It was quickly approved.   

The board then addressed an amendment to the salary schedule regarding an ACT prep class that had not been accounted for. The class took place after the last day of school but was still technically during the school year, thus the salary of the class instructor had been overlooked.

Next up, Dixon presented the K-12 culinary connection. Dissatisfied with the current state of the cafeteria food, a bid was assembled put out to attract a culinary company. They heard back from one: K-12 Culinary Connection. The idea is that K-12 would come in, train the current staff, provide menus with multiple options a day, and employ several policies in the kitchen to keep food quality and production standards high. This program would cost the district $35,000 a year and would be a new expenditure. Nonetheless, the school board expressed a lot of interest in the program.

Throughout the discussion, it became clear the entire school board agreed something needed to be done to improve food quality. According to Dixon, a large percentage of the student body is signed up for the breakfast and lunch programs, but very few actually eat the provided food. Several teachers present also voiced their distaste for the cafeteria food, raising more concern. As school board member Cindy Parks put it, “If teachers won’t eat it, why would the kids?”

Dixon, who has worked with K-12 before in another district, seemed eager to give the company a shot. She reassured the rest of the board that the contract with K-12 would allow them to leave at any time if they so choose. It was also mentioned that the school had hired a new cafeteria manager, but some were concerned that more action may prove necessary. Resolved to change things for the better as soon as possible, the school board unanimously approved working with K-12 Culinary Connection, willing to take on the expenditure to improve food quality.

The next order of business was personnel policy updates. The first was a policy stating that failing to appear for work five days in a row without contact is grounds for termination. The second policy was that vacation days must be used within a year or they will be lost. Apparently a loophole in the previous policy was being abused, where teachers could use sick days for vacation, and then compile their vacation days over several years for a large compensation upon leaving their position. With the new policy in place, the number of vacation days eligible for compensation will be one year’s worth at most. The third policy was simply defining exactly what a full day of work is expected to be for teachers and admin, that being 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Before now it was assumed that this was understood, but for the sake of policy, it has now been put into writing.

For the principal’s report, the 2019 graduation was stated to have had an attendance of 685, and to have gone rather smoothly. The curriculum report covered training and preparations for the next school year. The tech report was quickly read over and accepted. And to wrap everything up, Dixon reported she was almost done officially settling into her position, which the board received positively.

The matter of the school buses is still being discussed. It seems some of the information in the last meeting was incomplete, and further research is being done.

It was announced the payroll was officially being switched over to direct-deposit, much to the praise of almost everyone present. After this announcement, Dixon took a moment to praise Stephane Riley, the school’s general business manager and the individual responsible for the payroll update. Dixon and several other board members took turns acknowledging Riley’s hard work, a sentiment shared around the room.

After this, resignations and hirings were reviewed and accepted, the board discussed how they would soon be required by law to record their meetings, and at about 8:20 p.m. the meeting adjourned.