Every day, nearly 800 students line up for lunch at the Pratt High School cafeteria or at Southwest Elementary School, where meals are delivered from the central kitchen at PHS. On average, that's 73 percent of the students — very good participation, Superintendent Suzan Patton reported to the Board of Education Monday night.
In fact, a food service team from the Kansas State Department of Education, whom she invited to review the program, termed participation excellent compared to other school districts. Participation has remained fairly steady since the 2010-11 school year, when the percentage jumped from the mid- to high-60 percentages.
A statement of accounts document shows the financial side of the story — food service expenditures outstrip receipts by more than $10,000. The fund is in the black, because of a healthy beginning balance, however.
The team didn't give the concrete solutions Patton was hoping would make the program more efficient and save money, but they did make some suggestions: eliminate pre-made items and do more cooking from scratch, change some menu items, make some changes on the salad bar, take advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables and consider staggering service times.
Patton promised more discussion about food service in the future.
New scoreboards at Liberty Middle School were crossed off the to-do list Monday.
"LMS scoreboards are shot," PHS Activities Director Curtis Nightingale declared, describing a recent instance when they shut down a couple of times during a game. A "chewing gum and baling wire" fix prevented the game from being moved to the PHS gym.
A Greenback Boosters wish list has included boards that would display statistics along with the scores. Nightingale and LMS Activities Director Ron Hill approached the Boosters about making LMS boards a higher priority. The result was approval by the Boosters to provide $8,000 if both sets were purchased, leaving $6,200 for the district to pay.
Installation of the LMS boards should begin in mid-January, Hill said, and the hope is that it can be handled by district maintenance staff.
Hill has an appointment with Bill Keller at Stanion Wholesale Electric to discuss better lighting for the gym and some bleacher maintenance issues will be addressed.
"We want to spruce it up," he said.
Patton reported that enrollment fluctuates monthly, but was 405 at Southwest Elementary in September, with 87 kindergarten students. In December, enrollment is up to 422, with 94 kindergartners in four sections. Twenty-three students in a classroom would not be considered unusual in Wichita, she said, but it's more than Pratt parents expect.
She asked the board to approve hiring Tanya Younie as a kindergarten para. She, along with two AmeriCorps students who just completed student teaching will do more than just "be in the classroom," but will perform what she called specific interventions. Patton praised the kindergarten teachers for doing an outstanding job, as she explained that new staff will be a positive way of responding to fluctuating numbers.
AmeriCorps is a national program that provides a stipend for people working in non-profit organizations and schools, and an education award to pay for post-secondary education or loan repayment upon completion of the term of service.
Patton reported problems with a couple of activity buses due to the extremely cold weather last weekend and noted that other districts attending the Pratt High wrestling tournament experienced problems as well. Transportation Director Clint Jones was busy fixing buses most of the day, she said.
The board rescinded last month's motion to purchase a standard length 2014 Ford Expedition from Lanterman Motors and approved a motion for a 2014 extended length Expedition for $33,969.
Patton was given permission to sell two old vehicles that are considered not worthy of trading in, as well as surplus equipment, including sewing machines from the former family and consumer science program and equipment in storage at the ACE building.