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School Board OKs move to outsource meal service

Benchmark scores, drug testing and food services were among the major topics of the Monday night meeting of the Lonoke School District Board of Directors.

Board members Matt Boyles, Karen James, Mike Brown, Darrell Park and Karl Pennington attended the meeting; Tony Kelleybrew and Johnie Watson were absent.

Superintendent Suzanne Bailey, high school principal Marc Sherill, primary school principal Rebecca Reed, elementary school principal Jennifer Barbaree, and coach Nathan Morris also attended the meeting.

Reed and Barbaree presented the Benchmark scores at the primary and elementary schools.

One of the coming changes for school staff will be the changeover of outsourcing, or using a contract service, to staff the school district food service.

The board gave Bailey permission to prepare for the district food services to be “outsourced.”

Outsourcing the food service means the school district would no longer provide meal services, which would be managed and performed by a commercial contractor.

Bailey explained that once the change is complete, the food service workers would no longer be school district employees. Instead, they would be employed by a contractor who would manage the employees and ensure all legal requirements are met.

The system is similar to that adopted by many districts for substitute teachers. Substitute teachers are provided by the placement service, which in turn manages the administration of the employment records.

The jobs will remain, only the employer would change, Bailey said.

Further discussion of drug testing was tabled to the July 21 board meeting.

Consideration of having is being given to having school staff members collect the drug-test samples. Morris explained that having the collection done by school staff members would save the district about $3,700 annually.

The option of a hair follicle test could be made for students who decline to provide a urine sample, however the cost of the test would be borne by the student.

Overall, drug testing has been used as a deterrent, not a “gotcha,” Morris said. The goal being to dissuade a student from using illegal drugs because of the possibility of being discovered.

The policy of requiring drug testing to participate in sports and extra-curricular activities would remain unchanged.

New teachers approved by the school board are: High School – Ashli Stivers (business), Jacob Clanton (science/CORE), Shannon Harrington (AP biology/physical science); Tom Kloske (math); Primary School – Heather Franks, Anna Moore.

Board members approved increasing the sick days for bus drivers from two to five days.

Approved the purchase of bus from Central States Sales, a 2015 Bluebird, for $90,975.

Authorized the purchase of a vehicle for the superintendent, with a limit of $40,000 from the state contract.

The proposed 2015-16 school year budget was approved.

Longtime volunteers Lily Turner and were recognized for more than five years service. Aretha Dodson was also set for recognition but was not able to attend.

Too often the work of volunteers is overlooked, Bailey remarked. “But volunteer work is important, we need our volunteers, Bailey remarked.

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