Madison-Plains food service director Mary Sparrow has her eye on not only providing nutritious meals for the student population, but also to endeavor to reduce child obesity and teach them to make more healthy choices in their diet.
As the department has incorporated more fruits and vegetables into the menus, the costs have risen, Sparrow said during the Madison-Plains Board of Education (BOE) meeting held Tuesday, May 20.
The BOE responded by raising the price of school lunches as follows for the 2014-2015 school year: Kindergarten through sixth grade, to $2.50 from $2.25; seventh through 12th grade, to $2.75 from $2.50.
School board member Bob Butz asked Sparrow if the staff throw away much food. She replied not much, and said her staff is very creative in making today’s leftovers into tomorrow’s entrees.
Sparrow also lauded her crew for being able to make hundreds of meals five days a week in a small prep area. She said it’s a credit to their ability to work together.
Championed by first lady Michelle Obama, healthier school lunch standards have been phased in nationally over the last two school years, with more changes coming in 2014.
In addition to new whole grain requirements, the rules set fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits on foods in the lunch line and beyond. While many schools have had success putting the rules in place, others have said they are too restrictive and costly.
In other business, the school board recognized students who have excelled not only in recent contests, but also over an athletic career.
Senior Jake Datz was presented to the BOE by high school athletic director Matt Mason. Datz played football and wrestled in a Golden Eagle singlet. He placed fourth in the state in the 2014 season and compiled 183 career wins. He won all-league and all-county honors.
“He did Madison-Plains proud,” Mason said. “He’s the definition of what a Madison-Plains athlete should be.”
Mason also mentioned Emma Sampson, who was recognized for achieving state-level accomplishments in swimming. At the state meet, Sampson placed 12th in the 200 individual medley and 18th in the 100 backstroke.
In the recently held county math bee, Madison-Plains students ciphered their way to honors. In sixth grade competition, Gavin Jones placed first and tying for third were Spencer Baker and Joey Grigsby. In the fifth grade competition, Kenny Shafer placed second and Jerry Slagle placed third.
Also, at the board president’s request, the June BOE meeting has been moved to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10, one week earlier than normal, due to a schedule conflict.
The transportation department, directed by Samantha Jones, also presented information to the BOE. The 23 afternoon routes and 22 morning routes cover 1,700 miles daily. The fleet consists of 30 vehicles with the newest two buses being 2014 models and the oldest model from 1990 model. The average bus is nine years old.
“We’re behind on keeping up,” Jones said of the aging fleet. The average life of a school bus is 15 years and that’s with two mechanics working full-time to keep them in tip-top shape.”
Before a drive sets out on a route an extensive inspection list must be checked off.
Jones buys fuel by lowest bid up to seven times per year for a total annual expenditure of $169,000 in 2013.
She said most buses are equipped with digital cameras and a microphone to record any incidents which may occur on a route. Some still have old VHS units.
Jones recognized Georgia Mercer as her longest-serving bus driver.
“She goes above and beyond,” Jones said of her service to the district.
Mercer said she began driving a school bus in 1969.
In other business, the BOE:
• Rejected HVAC bids because none came with a surety bond.
• Accepted the resignation of music teacher/band director Derek Scoles, who spent eight years with the district.
“Once again, Madison-Plains proves to be the training ground,” Superintendent Bernie Hall said. “He revived the music program. The kids like him. He will be missed.”
• Approved a three-year contract extension for principal Kim LeGault.
• Approved hiring Karen Grigsby as curriculum director.
• Accepted resignations of teachers Valerie Biggam and Brian Snider and bus driver, Ernie Hines (retirement).
• Approved the list of seniors for graduation, Friday, May 30.
Dean Shipley can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 17 or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.