Sheldon R-8 superintendent comments on departure of assistant principal

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Meeting on a different night and time, the school board for the Sheldon R-8 district discussed food service, learned of a preliminary state report on the performance of the district, and discussed a number of smaller items.

All seven members of the board were present for the shorter than usual, 30-minute meeting. The board approved the minutes, payment of bills and learned the balance of funds and the state of the budget.

With the December departure of the district’s assistant principal, Devin White, the district’s administrators were asked before the Monday night board meeting about the distribution of White’s tasks.

“Well, I am the interim AD (athletic director),” said Superintendent Jason Irwin.

“And your director of transportation,” said Principal Carolyn Compton. “Plus I now handle discipline and I seem to have more paperwork.”

Irwin explained how White had completed his Specialist in Education degree in December and accepted an administration position with the Nevada campus of Crowder College.

“It’s a bit hard when someone leaves mid-hear but I told him, if you have an opportunity to better yourself and help your family, you have to go-for-it,” said Irwin.

Asked if they will search for and hire a new assistant principal in the spring for the next school year, Irwin laughed saying, “We’ll see if Mrs. Compton and I go crazy or not by spring break.”

Giving his report as interim athletic director, Irwin told the board, “I am a little troubled with a few of our fans as well as the attitude of a few members of our boys’ basketball team when it comes to the calls of referees.”

Shaking his head in agreement, board member Jarod Lamb said, “I saw what you’re referring to and it was embarrassing.”

Reminiscing back to his time as a player, Irwin spoke of missed or mistaken calls in basketball games.

“I’m not sure there’s ever been a perfectly called basketball or any other game for that matter; bad calls are just part of sports,” said Irwin.

He told the board he has had a pointed discussion about this with the boys coach and the coach is to inform the players of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, help the students to understand what they need to do and why as well as enforce the rules accordingly.

“A few seem to be following the lead of certain adults so I’m going to address this with a few parents in the near future,” added Irwin. “I want to nip this in the bud.”

Laying a foundation for a more in-depth discussion in the coming months, Irwin introduced the topic of food service.

“I know we’ve only had OPAA (Food Management) handle our food service for a short while now but I think we need to look at this and make some decisions by this spring,” said Irwin.

For the four school years prior to the current one, the district qualified for a program which allowed all students to eat for free.

An annual survey of low income families in each school district across America is conducted on April 1.

For the R-8 district, the results of this past spring’s survey meant they could not continue in the subsidized program and so, beginning this past August, the district has had to resume charging for meals of students not in low income households.

“Said Irwin, “We’re not allowed to make money on our food service but I don’t want to get to the point we were some years ago where we were losing $25,000 a year; that’s too much.”

Providing figures, the superintendent left out subsidies and compared revenues and expenditures for the first half of the previous and current school years.

In the first half of the 2017-2018 school year, expenses totaled $60,000 with revenues being $43,000 for a $17,000 loss. For the first half of the 2018-2019 school year, expenditures came in at $45,000 while revenues came to $28,500, creating a half of the school year deficit of $16,500.

Looking down the road, Irwin identified two factors to consider. The first was the built in nine cent cost increase each year in per meal expenses while the other is a food service audit.

“I remember the last time I had to do that audit; it about drove me nuts trying to get it right,” said Irwin. “But we can’t increase our deficit and our families certainly can’t afford to pay more each year for meals.”

He stressed the importance of students having a good breakfast and lunch in order to be able to learn.

The superintendent spoke of area districts which are looking at other food service providers and expressed the need to do the same.

Said Lamb, “It sounds like what we may need to do is continue with OPAA for another year and let them handle the food service audit and save you that headache and maybe by then we can look at other companies and hear what other districts have found out.”

Irwin mentioned the other big factor is variety and taste.

Irwin said, “Since going to OPAA, student and staff complaints about the food have gone way down and really, they do a great job.”

“But they won’t eat if the price keeps going up and up,” added board member Gene Leininger.

“I wish we got nine cents more each year for our commodities,” said board member Michelle Claflin.

“Or my cows,” said Lamb to Board President Bill Nance, who both laughed.

In a facilities report, the superintendent said the new walk-in freezer has been installed, the plastic lid to the ice machine had broken off and a replacement should be at the school by Wednesday.

He also described the cleaning of the bathrooms he had helped complete over the holidays.

Irwin was also glad to report that the sound system in the gymnasium had been adjusted and is now in working order.

In her report, Compton reported December’s overall district attendance was 96.03 percent compared to 95.72 a year earlier.

She said the Future Farmers of America Greenhand Conference is January 9, basketball homecoming is Jan. 18 and there is no school on Jan. 21.

“The fourth and fifth-grade students are going to have a living history event, from 6- 7 p.m. on Jan. 31; it will be like a wax museum and should be interesting.”

The next Golden Valley/Vernon County Conference professional development day will be on Feb. 4 at Bronaugh.

Mr. Irwin told the board the preliminary annual performance score report is excellent.

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