All the students in the four elementary schools left in the Van Buren Public Schools District are getting free breakfasts before starting their school days and the district is making a profit of $354.80 per day.
Karen Sanders, the district’s supervisor of Food Service, explained the Universal Breakfast Program to the school board at the Sept. 24 meeting.
She said last year the district served 800 breakfasts, when they were free, reduced, and paid by students. This year they are serving breakfasts to 1,170 elementary students and coming out ahead with no money changing hands.
She said the children go directly from their buses to their classrooms and that’s where they consume their milk, juice or fruit, and bread (such as muffins) or cereal.
School Supt. Michael Van Tassel said the children have accidents handling the food, but it’s all a part of learning life skills. He said, actually, the Kindergartners did better than the first graders that morning.
Supt. Van Tassel said in planning the eating he was concerned with timing and said the children lose less academic time if they eat in their rooms rather than in the cafeteria.
School Board President Martha Toth said the program is available because the school district is in the “Severe Rate” with the district having over 40% eligible for free and reduced lunches in the 2010-11 school year.
That has grown to more than 50% now.
For example, Sanders said, Edgemont has served an average of 313 breakfasts each day and of that number 181 are eligible free students, 22 are eligible reduced students, and 110 are full-pay students.
These figures decide the average federal reimbursement the district will receive.
Edgemont brings in a profit of $116.42 per day.
The Severe Rate for 2012-13 shows reimbursement of $1.85 each for free students, $1.55 for reduced students, and $0.27 for paid students. The average breakfast cost is $0.71.
Savage School has 164 paid students, 12 reduced, and 76 free, so it averages a loss of $35.44 per day on the federal breakfast scale.
About 14 school bus drivers came to Monday’s meeting to support their new supervisor of transportation John Bojanowski and bus driver Beverly Porter, who spoke of their concerns.
Bojanowski was on the agenda to give a transportation update, but the agenda had Porter speaking first.
Porter said she drives a school bus and the drivers appreciate the board hiring Bojanowski, who is doing well and is developing an atmosphere and team spirit to make everything work.
“Let transportation fix these things ourselves,” Porter said. “Me and the other drivers want to fix it ourselves … Why not see if it can work?” she asked.
“We can pull this off – all of us together,” Porter said, and the bus drivers in the audience applauded.
After use of the shuttle buses to transport students to various schools caused a big problem during the first days of school, the administration moved in to help.
Bojanowski, who said as of Monday he had only been on the job here 28 days, said they have now eliminated the shuttles from Edgemont, Savage, and Owen and it has worked out well.
He noted the ECDC students are on time and 80% of the schools of choice assignments have been made. He said they need to hire two more bus drivers.
“Everything’s calmed down now,” he said. When he was asked about the slow-up at Ecorse Road construction, he said they are trying to keep bus rides down to 45 minutes to an hour for everybody.
He said the buses are being filled right to the limits and they have resolved most of the daycare issues.
The bus drivers also applauded Bojanowski’s report.
Board Trustee Brent Mikulski said he went over to pick up his children from school and he watched the students interacting with the bus drivers and was very impressed. He said the drivers appeared happy and he saw one child give a driver a bag of candy.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the board:
• Approved the appointment of Tiffany Hall, mother of a special education child, to a three-year term on the Parent Advisory Committee at Wayne RESA;
• Heard a district enrollment update using Monday’s count of 5,314. Last spring the count was 5,302 and last fall’s count was 5,357. The official count day is Oct. 3. Mikulski said this year’s count, so far, is near the Plante Moran estimate, but he is concerned about the number of students in grades K-4 being significantly less. He said PM has estimated 1,931 and the count is about 80 less than that. Toth said every time an elementary school closes, students are lost. She said one-third of the district’s elementary schools were closed and the loss is not that much. Van Tassel said in October they would be studying why students left. He reminded them of the study PM made, noting there were fewer children being born. “Are we going to fight over them?” he asked. Mikulski said he would like to see school of choice numbers, in and out;
• Approved hiring of the following teachers: Cynthia Spurlock as Speech Pathologist, Cherita Hill at Edgemont, and Kyle Paruskiewicz at Belleville High School;
• Approved the requested terminations of two paraprofessionals: Jack Loria and Angelique Whitt, both who resigned as of Sept. 20 after six years;
• Heard a member of the audience ask that the board consider hiring people laid off by the district for jobs, rather than retired people who have income from their retirement. This set off a long discussion on unnamed people who are subbing in some positions. Shonta Langford-Green, director of human resources, explained how substitutes are hired through PESG (Professional Educational Services Group) and the district no longer hires substitutes. The district also uses EDUstaff for subs, she said. Trustee Scott Russell asked Green to see if it’s possible for EDUstaff to give preference to laid-off workers before retired workers, and Green said she would ask and report back. Van Tassel said teachers who request the subs through PESG can ask for subs they want. Trustee Sherry Frazier asked for a list of consultants who have been hired and long-term teacher subs; and
• Was reminded the next regular board meeting on Oct. 8 will be in the mini-aud at BHS, with entrance through the school’s front door. On the agenda will be a presentation on Everyday Math, a bond update, a proposed contract extension for Plante Moran CRESA, and a policy review for temporary employees, as requested by Trustee Russell.