SWCS hears department reports

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The support services for the South-Western City School District gave their department reports at the Feb. 25 work session. Items discussed were nutritional services, student enrollment and transportation.

Food service

With the increasing number of children struggling with obesity, many districts have started serving healthier meals to curb this growing trend.

“School meals provide each child with one third of the recommended daily allowance,” said Beth Glitt, the district food service director. “All school meals must have 30 percent or less of the calories from fat and only 10 percent of those calories from saturated fat.”

Glitt added that the district is taking strides in making popular items nutritious.

“Many of our pizza crusts contain whole grain or ultra grain, and most of our cheese products are low fat. Our most popular item, the boscoe sticks, are in low fat and made with ultra grain.”

However, one deep fried item that will not be dropping off the menus of middle and high schools anytime soon is French fries.

“At the high schools, we tried to have mashed potatoes instead of French fries, but Ed Palmer (principal at Central Crossing High School) said there was almost a revolt because the students didn’t like it.”

The board addressed concerns over trans fatty acids but Glitt assured them that the items are fried in non-trans fat oil.

“On any given day, a completely balanced and highly nutritious meal can be eaten at any of our schools.”

While students may gobble up the food, the food services department does not eat up funds from the district, as it is not part of the district’s general fund.

“Our total budget is $7.4 million,” Glitt said. “The revenue received in the department comes from sales of breakfast, lunch, a la carte and adult meals.”

For each meal served that meets the national school lunch guideline, the department receives reimbursement from the federal government.

“The reimbursement represents about $4.2 million of our budget,” Glitt added.

Food services lose revenue on snow days. For every day missed for a calamity day, they lose approximately $46,000 dollars.

“Because of that, I don’t want the call that says school was called off for the day,” joked Glitt.

Student enrollment

For the 2008-09 school year, the district is projected to have an enrollment of 21,170 students, up 185 students from the previous (and current) school year.

“There is an increase of the overall increase,” said Janice Collette, director of pupil personnel.

Despite the enrollment going up, the board noticed the enrollment figures have been flat for the past three years.

“The effects of the economy and the housing market are some of the factors causing the flat growth,” Collette said.

Students choosing to go to area charter schools play a factor. Approximately 500 students in the boundary go to either the 10 charter schools, or nine parochial schools.

“The enrollment of the charter schools sort of ebbs and flows, and in 2004, we started seeing the effects of the charter schools,” Collette said.

Transportation

The district has 194 school buses.

“We employ 152 bus drivers, 31 bus aides and 20 substitute drivers,” said Tim Cox, director of transportation.

Attendance issues for the drivers were addressed at the work session.

“I think the numbers are a bit skewed,” Cox said. “Eight (substitute) employees are on a leave of absence, two are on pregnancy leave and a few of our long term people are out.”

Cox told the board that the department recently held a job fair during winter break that brought in 170 people.

The requirements to drive a school bus are getting stricter each year. In addition to getting a commercial drivers license, passing all of the tests in the 18th percentile and clocking in 12 to 20 hours behind the wheel, state law now requires that bus drivers pass a criminal background check through the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

“It is a lot of pressure,” Cox said.

A new addition to buses will take the pressure off the drivers where surveillance is concerned. When the department gets a new fleet of buses, most will be equipped with the most comprehensive digital recording system on the market.

“There will be four angles that the camera will capture,” said Cox.

The front angle will be able to check the bus stop signals and catch cars that are in too much of a hurry to abide by the sign. The other angle will see down toward the driver and the stairwell, while the other two will survey the front to mid section, and the mid to back section of the bus. Those angles can be used to curb bus violence.

“With the digital recording, with any disturbance we can pull the video and zoom onto the face. From there, we can e-mail the principal instantaneously.”

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