It was proposed Monday at the Nevada School Board meeting that school lunch prices be increased 10 cents across the board for the 2013-14 school year.
District Food Service Director Candy Anderson said the increase is necessary due to increases in food costs, increases for labor (raises for the food service department) and because of a decline in meal participation this year.
With the increase, elementary lunches will go from $2.20 to $2.30 and breakfasts from $1.20 to $1.30; middle and high school lunches from $2.30 to $2.40 and breakfasts from $1.25 to $1.35; and adult lunches from $3.10 to $3.20 and breakfasts from $1.55 to $1.65. Cost of milk will also increase by 5 cents a carton in the next school year.
To help board members understand the decline in number of meals served, Anderson reported that from September to April of the last school year, 241,528 meals were served in the district. This school year, during that same time period, only 185,105 meals have been served. Breakfast meals served are down 259 meals from last year’s number. The decreases, she believes, are from kids dropping out of the program due to the mandated changes that started this year with the Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act, and then never coming back into the program.
"If we increase prices (by 10 cents), based on meals served this school year, we’d generate $21,283 more dollars (for the food service budget)," Anderson said, noting that the money is desperately needed to keep the department operating. "That $21,283 is a drop in the bucket of what we need to do," she added.
Anderson said she’d increase prices even more for the coming school year if USDA rules didn’t stipulate that a district cannot impose more than a 10-cent increase from one year to the next.
Anderson explained that during the present school year, food service saw the top 100 items that they use go up an average of $4-5 per case. She said that was mostly due to increases in packaging and shipping, but also because of the shortages of some crops. And sadly, because of the increases, Anderson said food service has paid the same amount this year for food to serve 56,682 less meals.
Next year, school meals for the high school will be served at Gates Hall for the first part of the year, during construction of the new kitchen at the high school. Anderson said while decreases in participation have been felt at all levels in the school, she is hopeful that once the new high school kitchen is completed, with modernized serving areas and options, that some of those students will be eager to participate in the school meal program again. Middle school students will also receive the benefits of new things being prepared at the high school.
Increased meal costs for the 2013-14 school year will come back to the board for approval at its next meeting.
Review of Iowa Assessments
While reading scores looked better for Nevada’s sixth- grade group, a group that has been closely watched and received extra attention after low scores last year, the Iowa Assessments for the district looked especially bleak for this year’s eighth-grade class.
Making only a slight gain in reading proficiency, the eighth-graders dipped in proficiency in math, science and then really fell off in social studies, having the lowest proficiency percentage of all grades, at 54.2 percent.
While the eighth grade wasn’t the only grade to suffer setbacks in areas, the class stuck out among other classes as doing probably the poorest overall in this year’s test assessments.
Nancy Port, director of school improvement, said it’s hard to know exactly why. Some of the individual scores of students have surprised her and teachers.
"We saw a child’s score today that we think might have gotten off track on a row, because the score was unlike (that child’s) past scores," Port said.
Port said while it’s important, as educators, to take the test results seriously, she also wants to point out that these test results are only one way that students are looked at. And "it’s one week in their life. We can look at all the stuff and see what was taught, but we won’t know for every kid - if the kid dropped 30 points - why? We can speculate, but if the kid hasn’t had any trauma in their life, all we can do is speculate."
On a good note, Port said the district should feel great about the reading scores, and especially good about the things that were implemented at the fifth- and sixth-grade level to pull those scores up. She said that work will continue.
In other business:
• Nevada High School girls’ basketball coach, Kristen Meyer, was given a Board Salutes award for completing a 19-5 season and reaching the regional finals in 2012-13. Meyer’s team, with only one senior member, recorded the best 5-on-5 record in school history. As stated in her award: "It was through Kristen’s guidance that these young people had a successful year. The dedication of Kristen has paved the way for these young people. You can find Kristen opening the gym for practice and/or weight room. She also not only dedicates time for her sport, but is very willing to assist in the other sports, from volleyball to track."
• The board reviewed the district’s student fees for the coming year. Early K fees will remain the same and kindergarten fees will go up 50 cents per child. All other grades will see school fees increase by $1 per child.
• The board reviewed handbook changes for the coming year with each administrator.
Elementary Principal Kathy Goecke said the biggest change for the elementary handbook is that they won’t be printing copies for every child. "This year, a single page will be sent home to tell parents where to find the handbook electronically," Goecke said. She added that if a printed copy is needed, they will have several of those in the office. Also, Geocke noted that they will add information to the handbook about the elementary’s Twitter account, a way for the school to quickly disperse information about cancellations and other important announcements.
Middle School Principal Chris Schmidt said the handbook would remain pretty much the same. The middle school plans to print out full copies for all fifth-graders and new students in the school, but will give an abridged version with the most important pages to the rest of the students. Schmidt also reported that the middle school will have a change in report cards for next year. "Instead of printing cards, report cards will go into what is called ‘the vault’ on Power School, where they can be accessed," she said.
High School Principal Justin Gross said there aren’t many changes in the high school handbook, but he said they did add a section about the new video cameras in the school and the surveillance system.
Athletic Director Dave McCaulley talked about the coaches’ handbook for the district and said it has stayed pretty much the same, but they have added a section about social networking and what coaches can do to educate their student athletes who are out there representing their school. McCaulley said the district has had a few disciplinary situations due to social networking. "We’ve got to continue to educate these kids that what they put out there could affect (their futures in college admission, getting jobs, etc.)."
• The district approved an agreement with the Nevada Community Education Association (NCEA) and then approved all teaching contracts for the coming school year. One teaching contract, that of Chris Lansink, was removed from the list, as Lansink, a high school math teacher, has resigned his position to take a position at another district. Gross said Nevada is sad to lose Lansink, a teacher who was featured this year for his standard-based grading style, but Gross said Lansink found a position at a district closer to where his family resides.
• Under personnel appointments, Joel Fey was approved to become the full-time assistant elementary principal. Previously, Fey was part-time principal and part-time teacher at the elementary.