Board looks at meal prices

STRATFORD – In addition to hearing a report on certified enrollment, when the Stratford school board met in regular session Wednesday evening members looked at school lunch fees, technology fees, and heard a report from board members who attended an informal meeting with Webster City and Northeast Hamilton boards.

Superintendent Sarah Binder reported to the board that certified enrollment for the 2013-14 school year shows an increase of 2.5 students.

“This is the first for a couple of years now,” Binder said.

Looking at the school lunch program, Binder told the board that the school will be required to increase school lunch prices by 10 cents effective Jan. 1. The increase – which translates to 50 cents per week per student or $2 per week – will make the lunch price comparable to the reimbursable cost of what the school is asking of the federal government.

The need for a technology fee was also discussed by the board. Binder’s recommendation is to initiate a $25 fee per student per year. The school has had no such fee previously, but the combined fees would be used to maintain a set of reliable devices for student use. Binder said that there has been some “normal use” damage to Chromebooks, tablets, and laptops at the school over the past five years.

“In order to replace the device with normal wear, the tech fee could be used,” Binder told the board.

The board approved the recommendation to begin charging a technology fee starting Jan. 1. Students who qualify for reduced price lunch will be charged a $15 fee, and there will be no charge to students who qualify for free lunches. Starting in the fall, the tech fee will be part of registration fees.

Karen Mason, 5th and 6th grade multi-age classroom teacher, gave the teacher’s report at Wednesday’s meeting. She told the board that concept-based learning in social studies has been challenging and good this year.

“It’s new to all of us,” she said. “We’re excited about it and think it’s definitely the way to go.”

Mason also told the board that “we are trying to learn technology we have available in ways that will enhance student learning.”

In property matters, the board heard an update on the parking lot and looked at several options. A bid from Grabau Construction for $9,341 was accepted. Fort Dodge Asphalt will pay $7,341 for removal and replacement of paving. The board also approved placement of barrier posts at the bus barn at a cost of $690 each for the three to five posts.

Binder told the board that background checks are required by June 30, 2014, for all new staff members and those already on staff. The check will have to be done every five years.

In other business at the meeting:

An agreement with Midwest Alarm Services was amended to include semi-annual inspections with bi-annual sensitivity and central station monitoring annual investment. The change reflects the fire code.

A report on relicensing the ELC was reviewed. A DHS representative visited on Nov. 5, found everything in order and issued a full license, not provisional.

“He was very complimentary to the organization and to the program and the quality of the program,” Binder stated.

Binder reported that the food service was inspected at the school earlier this month. No violations were noted.