Hilltop Cafeteria Dedicated To Balanced Meals, Balanced Budget

IMG_20140721_180550 WEBThough only meeting for twenty minutes, the Millcreek-West Unity Board of Education kept itself busy from gavel to gavel at last night’s regular board meeting.

“The cafeteria is like a business within the school.”

These were the words of Ellie Shinhearl, Food Services Manager of Hilltop, as she addressed the board at the request of one of its number, Ron Baker.

According to Shinhearl, in June of 2013 the cafeteria generated $33,748 in revenue. Comparatively, between late May and early June of this year, that total has been surpassed, reaching an even $35,000. This feat is particularly impressive given the 19 calamity days limiting potential income.

“We only have nine months to make enough revenue to pay 12 months worth of bills.” Shinhearl proclaimed.

The excessive amount of school cancellations basically eliminated an entire month from the cafeteria’s already limited earnings window.

Being able to bring in a consistent income with steady growth from year to year, despite such a massive disadvantage, allows the department a greater degree of comfort, as Shinhearl can attest.

“It’s nice to have that balance there, so we don’t have to pull from the General Fund.”

Shinhearl went on to discuss the issue of the cafeteria’s food, and whether or not perceived health issues are legitimate. She pointed out that any student purchasing a lunch at the school is required to take a half-cup of fruits or vegetables, though she also acknowledged that such a requirement doesn’t guarantee the fruits and vegetables will be eaten.

Also, Shinhearl was quick to mention that health regulations designed to keep student lunches balanced and nutritious have been in place since the 1940’s.

There are challenges to giving the students a sense of variety, however. The school purchases its food through a commodity program offered by Gordon Food Services. Even though Shinhearl is allowed some options with this program, certain types of food are delivered in greater abundance than others. This creates a situation in which the cafeteria is forced to choose between serving certain types of food more than others, or eating the cost of those foods for the sake of variety.

Then there’s the reality that kids tend to be picky eaters, giving some student favorites a leg up on less popular foods.

“You have to feed the kids what they want to eat.” Shinhearl admitted to the board.

Superintendent Larry Long saw his salary of $85,000 approved by the board. Long is in the second year of his three year contract, and his salary remains unchanged from his first year on the job, per his own request.

The board held a first reading on updated NEOLA policy, which the board silently reviewed for roughly one minute.

The Northeastern Ohio Learning Association writes school board policies for around 400 districts located in seven states, including Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Florida. The organization is comprised mostly of former superintendents.

First term board member Kellie Gray was nominated and unanimously elected the board’s designee for Public Records training. This distinction is typically bestowed upon new board members when possible, as it gives them an opportunity to familiarize themselves with Public Records.

A contract with the Williams County Combined Health Department for Nursing Services for the coming school year was approved by the board. The school will pay $17,765 for services rendered. The board also approved the school’s membership with the Ohio Coalition of Equity and Adequacy for the new school year as well.

An agreement on compensation for parents transporting their children to and from school was reached by the board. Desiree Baker, Mark and Leslie Wagner, and Tim Yocklin will receive $10 a day, along with the IRS mileage rate per mile for providing travel for their own children.

Finally, the board hired several new employees on behalf of the district. Bill Williams will now serve as the 7th grade Basketball Coach, while Troy Grime and Josiah Poletta were approved for the same position at the 8th and 9th grade levels respectively. Nathan Massie was brought on as the Head Track Coach. Cristin Hagans is the new Resident Educator Mentor, and the school’s Band Camp received a new volunteer in Danny York.

The board will next meet in regular session on Monday, August 18 at 6:00 P.M. in the school’s band room.

© 2014 – 2016, Forrest Church. All rights reserved.

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