Ocean City Board of Education News in Brief, edition of Nov. 21, 2012

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OCEAN CITY – The following notes were compiled from a Wednesday, Nov. 14 meeting of the Ocean City Board of Education.

School lunch program

Rachel DeVault and Daniel Natterman of the school district’s food service program presented a report on the financial performance of the program since the beginning of the school year.

The food service program lost $60,966, part of that was one-time expenditures, including food and supplies, paint, equipment and cleaning supplies, for a total of about $26,000.

“It’s a matter of getting revenue up,” DeVault said. “We expected to see slow times in the beginning. We do have ground to make up. I have confidence in the district and my abilities.”

There are many factors, she said, which have contributed to the loss. A new nutritional era means lots of changes in the school cafeterias.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was designed to reduce childhood obesity and improve children’s diets.

A federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 13, 2010, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act funds child nutrition programs and free lunch programs in schools for the next five years and sets new nutrition standards for schools, allocating $4.5 billion for their implementation.

Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama, the change means the food pyramid, which long-guided school lunches has gone by the wayside.

MyPlate is divided into quarters, with half fruits and vegetables and the other grains, protein and dairy.

“They are encouraging more fruits and vegetables,” business administrator Tom Grossi said.

Children are permitted unlimited quantities of either, but servings are a minimum of half cup of each.

The government is emphasizing whole grains, but quantities are limited and the school is not permitted to put a “bread basket” out for the students to help themselves.

The government wants schools to cut back on protein and carbohydrates and strictly limit calories, fat and sodium.

Reimbursable meals, said DeVault, are complicated.

“With the new rules, students must take a fruit and a vegetable,” she said.

With milk, a meal costs $3.25.

In order to be reimbursable, the students must take the fruit and vegetable. If they don’t, it becomes an ala carte meal and costs the student more.

“We say, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to take a fruit or vegetable? It will cost you less,’” she said.

Bowls of fruit are strategically placed to tempt students.

“Many will decline, then it’s no longer a meal,” she said.

“If I’m the bookkeeper and I’m looking at these numbers, they’re way off,” said board member Lloyd Hayes. “At some point we have to make parents aware.”

“It’s not apples to apples,” said Grossi, when comparing the loss to last year’s totals. He said the new community lunch would help the bottom line, but the government’s new rules were difficult.

“We have to educate the parents and the community,” he said. “Every school district is in the same position. The students need to take a fruit or vegetable in order for the meal to be reimbursable.”

The board will hear another presentation on the matter in December.

Leo Ryan passes away

Leo Ryan, a custodian at Ocean City High School, passed away on Nov. 6, according to Superintendent Kathleen Taylor.

“He was a man of few words, but he had a ton of heart,” Taylor said.

Ryan, she said, had taken a leave of absence after a short illness.

“If you asked him to help you, he’d be there,” she said.

Ryan, she said, would wait in the community room after board meetings while board members were in executive session.

“He’d say, ‘Take your time, don’t worry, I’m here,’” she said. “He would say, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll make sure everything is OK. I’ll take care of you.’”

“We’re all cogs in the wheel in this school district,” she said, adding that Ryan made a big impact on the school district.

Executive session

The board went into executive session after the regular meeting to discuss, among other things, moving forward with a formal lawsuit in connection with the design of the auditorium in Ocean City High School, building and grounds Chairman Tom Oves said. The area has flooded numerous times since the school opened in 20004.

Support staff negotiations

Board member Joe Clark, who leads the school board’s negotiating team, said a second meeting with the state mediator and the Ocean City Support Staff Association did not yield a positive outcome.

“We are scheduled to meet again on Dec. 9,” he said.

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