Batesville School District’s food service enjoying upward trend in its bottom line

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The Batesville School District’s food service is enjoying an upward trend in its bottom line, the school board was told at their Monday meeting.

Drew Sandage, the food service director, said the service had a deficit of $35,000 three years ago, but has had a positive balance the last two years. Two years ago, he noted, it finished with a $26,000 balance in the black, and last year it ended the year with a $78,000 positive balance.

However, Sandage told the board said it’s not about making money. He said having a surplus does allow the service to replace equipment and make improvements without having to tap other district resources.

Sandage said they are trying to be more efficient in the service’s operations. For instance, he said they have begun using Styrofoam trays instead of hard plastic trays that have to be cleaned after each use.

He has reduced the workforce by 15 percent, which he admitted might be a bit too much in some areas. He said he has been working with Brandie Cannady, transportation coordinator, about using bus drivers to help the food service during lunchtime. The bus drivers would be paid as part-time employees if they want extra income.

Sandage said that 54 percent of Batesville students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. He believes that 70 percent of the student population would be eligible for free or reduced-price meals if they applied for them. The 70 percent figure represents 503 students. The district is reimbursed by federal funds for the free or reduced-price meals.
Superintendent Michael Hester told the school board Monday that the Department of Education had approved five AMI days for Batesville this school year.

AMI stands for Alternative Methods of Instruction ,and they can be used when the schools are closed because of bad weather, illness or any other emergency. It allows students to be given assignments to complete at home in these circumstances. It means the district does not have to use days built into the schedule for snow days or any other emergency.

Districts can use virtual learning as an alternative method of instruction. The district had to submit a plan for handling these methods to gain approval by the department.

In other action, the board approved participation in the Arkansas Public School Unemployment Compensation Account. The cost is based on the number of employees and is estimated to be about $2,500 for the district.

The Citizens Bank ‘Above and Beyond’ award for September was presented to Kathy Walter, an “English as a Second Language” teacher at Batesville High School. Nominations mentioned Ms. Walter’s positive attitude and her dedication to her students both during and after school.

Monday’s award begins the seventh year that the bank and the school district have presented the monthly award to staff members in recognition of exceptional service to students, parents, their schools, peers and the district. Those selected by their peers are presented a certificate from the board, a $25 gift card, and an insulated tumbler from Citizens Bank.

Also recognized were members of K-Kids (Kiwanis Kids), including two who were honored with national awards. Hannah Cox was recognized as club secretary and Shane Dunlap was recognized as vice president.

Megan Graddy, communications director for the district, told the board that the installation of solar panels at the high school and in other locations has generated a lot of interest from other schools and educational organizations. She said she has been contacted by several of these organizations seeking more information about the project.

Graddy said she is trying to increase the district’s presence on social media. She said she asked Assistant Superintendent Gary Anderson to ask his Facebook followers to “like” the school district’s Facebook page.

Anderson, the former superintendent who posts regularly on Facebook, has 2,500 followers. She said she’s now helping Anderson deal with all the notifications he has been receiving.

Hester told the board there would be a special board meeting on the budget Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the district’s administrative offices at 955 Water St.

Reporting by Bob Qualls

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