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Miami-Yoder’s new superintendent settles in

Improving food options and cafeteria finances is a high priority for Dwight Barnes, the new superintendent of Miami Yoder School District in Rush. Barnes, who started his new position in July, discussed the initial findings from his evaluation of the district’s nutrition services department at the July board of education meeting.ìThere’s a difference between the revenue side with the federal grants and other sources of about $111,000, but we spend about $150,000,î Barnes said. The district makes 220 breakfast and lunch combinations per day, which the district calls a single meal for accounting purposes. Breakfasts are a free service to all students on campus. ìSalary and benefits are $2.19 per meal,î Barnes said. ìFood costs are $1.94 per meal, and add another 24 cents for miscellaneous expenses, so the total cost is $4.37 per meal.îSimilar sized rural schools in Eastern El Paso County also take losses on their nutrition services programs, Barnes said. ìBig Sandy’s budget included a $45,000 line item for their nutritional services, Calhan put in $18,000 and Ellicott put in $4,000. It’s not until you get up to the larger districts like Falcon or Academy (where) people have to put in money because of the economies of scale.îìIn the last couple years, we’ve grown to a much bigger deficit,î said Kim Clements, board president.The board and Barnes agreed that staff costs and the amount the school charges students for lunch are not the source of the deficit. ìI’m going to work with them on what they are ordering and not ordering, and how they’re using commodity foods,î Barnes said. ìWe receive about $8,000 in commodities that we don’t utilize. Food cost is where we need to attack it and see if we can save some good money there.îThe U.S. Department of Agriculture purchases raw and processed foods at large quantities from farmers and food manufacturers, which is provided at minimal cost to school districts across the country. The commodity foods tend to be raw or bulk foods that must be intensively processed or prepared by school kitchen staff.ìI know they’re concerned with having to prep food, and I understand that,î said Tami Sisneros, board vice president. ìBut I think a lot of it has to do with the tools they have available. There are tools that are out there that will save time on prepping these foods.îIncreasing the number of students paying for a cafeteria lunch was also discussed. About 70 percent of the school’s students are on the free and reduced lunch program. Many of the students who would pay directly for lunch bring food from home instead. Clements said 30 percent should be paying, and they are not paying. ìThat’s worth looking at,î she said.New after-school program for elementary studentsMiami Yoder elementary partnered with Springboard, a Massachusetts-based, after-school contractor company, to provide academic assistance and enrichment electives. Students will be able to attend programs led by licensed teachers for one hour,15 minutes before school and two and one-half hours after school. Parents interested in the program can contact Springboard area director Carmen Senter at

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