School board okays project at middle school, new meal policy

A tunnel in the space between the Greene County Middle School and the gymnasium will be shored up this summer to prevent the ceiling from collapsing. The board of education at its May 17 meeting approved a contract with Shive Hattery for the necessary engineering work. Total cost of the project is estimated at $50,000.

Also at the meeting, the board approved the second reading of a new policy regarding payment of school lunches. The board at its April meeting approved the first reading of the policy that limited the number of unpaid meals to two before a student was denied meals. The number was increased in the second reading.

The school has had comments on its annual audit about the amount of unpaid meals in the nutrition account.

At the May meeting board members questioned the impact the policy would have on students. “You can’t learn if you’re sitting there hungry,” board member John McConnell said.

The policy does not apply to students receiving free or reduced price meals. Elementary principal Scott Johnson said that already, 55 percent of the students at his building get free or reduced price meals. He said there are still parents who struggle to keep meal accounts paid, either because they can’t read the forms needed, they don’t want to accept the assistance, or they’re on a “bubble,” earning too much for their children to qualify but not enough to meet all expenses.

After discussion of ways to increase participation in the free and reduced cost meal program, the board approved the new policy but changed the number of unpaid meals to six. Students will be able to charge up to six meals before they’re denied.

Superintendent Tim Christensen recommended against the district doing any paid advertising at this time. He had requested advertising proposals from local media with the intent of improving the public image and positive messaging of the district. Total cost of the proposals was $5,350.

Christensen said the School Foundation did not want to fund advertising because a solicitation letter sent earlier this year did not mention to potential donors that the money may be used that way. He said next year, if the solicitation letter includes advertising as a possible use, and if students helped create the advertising, the foundation would consider the request again.

He recommended “a concerted effort at getting our message out.”

The board approved fees and meal costs for the 2017-18 school year. There will be no changes from the current year.

 

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