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Friday, May 6, 2016

R-1 Board hires food service company

Friday, April 16, 2010

(Photo)
The Monett R-1 Board of Education formally reorganized during a special meeting on April 13. Doug Childress, at left, was sworn in for his first term. Marty Scabarozi, at right, was sworn in for a second term. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
The Monett R-1 Board of Education voted to change its approach to food service but save the jobs of current employees at a special meeting this week. New teachers were also hired during the busy session.

In an effort to end the loss of around $75,000 a year in the district's meal program, the board heard proposals from Patsy DuPlessis, the current food service director, and Ted Davis, representing OpAA Food Management. Both parties had submitted written proposals in March.

A significant contingent of the district's 15 full-time and nine part-time food service employees were on hand to hear the presentations.

DuPlessis presented a plan to potentially reduce costs through internal steps. She recommended cooking more meals from scratch, a different use of commodities and expanding the menu to increase participation. According to Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann, DuPlessis estimated $50,000 to $60,000 could be saved through the steps she recommended, including minor savings in personnel changes.

Davis presented the district with a five-year strategy, calling for a number of the same steps, such as cooking from scratch, that DuPlessis had proposed. In addition to increasing menu offerings to boost participation, Davis said OpAA could save the district money through its bulk buying ability as a firm that services 70 school districts.

"The board is concerned about the quality of food and the product," Jungmann said. "References were checked and questions asked. The board felt confident the quality of the product is what we're shooting for."

The disposition of the staff was also a major concern to the board. Davis said OpAA would keep all the present staff, who would remain employees of the R-1 District. The food service director would become an OpAA employee. If any of the current staff left, replacements would then become OpAA employees.

"The board is very interested in protecting the staff," Jungmann said. "We have a lot of hardworking, dedicated cooks that are here for the kids and the board wants to keep them around."

OpAA guaranteed the board a fixed rate for preparing meals, so that if participation remained the same, a $70,000 savings could be guaranteed. If participation increased, the savings would also increase. Jungmann said the board expected all of the current staff would be needed to make more food from scratch and expand the menu.

Having heard both proposals, the board unanimously voted to contract with OpAA to run the district's food service program.

"We feel good about the decision," Jungmann said. "We cannot afford to supplement the food service with education dollars. When you're running in the red, that's what you're doing. This is a step in that direction.

"This is a change, and with any change, there will be bumps along the road," Jungmann added. "We look forward to OpAA serving our students this fall."

Personnel moves

The board approved four resignations in closed session. Dena Coston resigned as software development instructor at the Southwest Area Career Center. Not enough students have signed up to renew the class for next fall, Jungmann said, so filling the position will be placed on hold.

Betsy Lusk resigned as an elementary teacher. Nichole Claxton stepped down as the high school Spanish teacher, and Sara Stephenson-Snyder resigned as a high school communication arts teacher.

After conducting two interviews, the board hired Don Tuck to be the new assistant principal at Monett High School. Tuck had previously served as a principal at Willard High School and as a middle school and elementary school principal at Lamar.

"Tuck is coming out of retirement," Jungmann said. "He said he missed the kids."

The following teachers were also hired:

* Sheri Depee as high school and middle school Spanish teacher. Depee has six years teaching experience in Republic and has been at home with her own small children in recent years.

* Crystal Shannon as a process coordinator and school psychologist. Shannon had worked for the past three years at the McDonald County School District.

* Thomas Crawford as a special education teacher splitting his time between Central Park Elementary and Monett Middle School. Crawford recently completed his student teaching in Republic. This will be his first teaching job.

The Monett School Board will hold its regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. on April 22.



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