M-P OKs meal price hike, to review other measures
WELLMAN — The cost of meals in the Mid-Prairie School District is going up 10 cents, a move approved by the board Monday to reduce a more than $16,000 deficit in its nutrition fund. The problem reflects both fewer meals sold (there was a 7.01 percent drop between fiscal 2011-12 and fiscal 2012-13) and higher costs related to federal guidelines and other economic factors.
The board approved the 10-cent raise only after a detailed discussion including how to reduce costs in terms of transportation, employees and how many kitchens the district has. There are three: one at Washington Township Elementary, one at the middle school, which serves nearby Kalona Elementary, and one at the high school which also serves Wellman Elementary.
The district offers both breakfast and lunch programs for students and staff with higher fees for the adults. Total expenditures, all buildings, for fiscal 2011-12 were $518,872.27 compared to $608,304.02 for fiscal 2012-13. Costs include employee salaries and benefits, the latter of which will be impacted by the new federal Affordable Care Act.
Board members agreed that the issue needs to be revisited, especially with an eye to lowering costs. Another suggestion was to have all meals a la carte, something it was noted that has worked well in other districts in not just to break even but also have a small surplus. Members noted it also could reduce waste.
The 10 cent increase is expected to raise an additional $6,000 annually for the program.
In other business, the board:
• noted that the probably $10.5 million bond issue will be April 1 and received figures from Shive-Hattery for Option 1, $10,290,000 which excludes an indoor walkway connecting existing east classroom wing to the planned new one at the high school, and option 2, including the walkway, for $10,395,000. Both figures include a 5 percent price escalation contingency fee;
• discussed possible future Washington County Riverboat Foundation grant applications, in particular if the district should seek a major one or two as opposed to having several smaller grants sought by district organizations and the district itself. Superintendent Mark Schneider observed that the board should consider if it wants to “rubber stamp” applications or “prioritize.” The grant deadline for the spring, 2014 WCRF cycle comes after the M-P bond issue, he added;
• learned about a new organization, Rural Students of Iowa Advocates which, as the name suggests, is concerned with rural districts, including declining enrollments, throughout the state. Schneider said he will attend the group’s meeting Saturday; and
• approved $100 per day high school substitute associate pay.