Changes in store for Central Montcalm food service department

By Lori Hansen • Last Updated 11:11 am on Tuesday, August 21, 2012

STANTON — The Central Montcalm Board of Education approved revamping the food service department just two weeks prior to the beginning of the school year, due to budget issues.

Superintendent Kristi Teall explained to the five attending board members at Monday night’s meeting that a recent audit showed a $93,000 deficit in the food service budget.

“There are budgeting issues that must be addressed, and we have to make adjustments,” Teall said. “We must get rid of the deficit, it must be a zero deficit and we are going to realign and start anew at the beginning of the school year.”

Teall explained there were several solutions suggested at a personnel committee meeting prior to the regular board meeting, and that committee’s solution was eradicate all food service positions and repost new revised positions, allowing current staff to bid on the realignment.

“It will be everyone from the support staff to the assistant director to the production manager,” she said.

Food Service Manager Diane Mitchell said there currently are 15 staff in the department among the district’s four buildings, all whom could see a change in the number of hours they work for the district.

“Some work a minimum of three hours per day and others work six and a half. The realignment will make it four to five hours (a day) for everyone,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell explained the financial savings will be the maximum hours worked per week will be 25 hours, not qualifying the employees for health care benefits.

“The biggest change in our budget from the 2010-2011 school year to the 2011-2012 year was the increase in the compensation plan,” Mitchell said. “Working under 25 hours by not paying those would lead to a $12,000 to $15,000 savings per person, for a total of $60,000 in insurance benefits.”

The school nurse payment also comes from the food service budget, and the board agreed in a 5-0 vote, with Mike Barnwell and Bill Collins absent, to eliminate that position, saving an additional $29,000.

Additional costs incurred over the year also came from increasing fuel costs, said Mitchell.

Central Montcalm shares Mitchell’s services with Vestaburg Community Schools, splitting mileage costs between the two districts. The food service department also provides meals to the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District’s Seiter Center in Greenville.

“We provide breakfast, lunch, after-school snacks, the summer free meal program and also do some catering,” Mitchell said. “There is a lot of driving, and with fuel costs increasing so much, it hurt us.”

“It is regretful we have had to cut the school nurse, and understand why parents would have concerns,” Board Vice President Bill Simpson said. “I also know we have had to cut $2.2 million in cuts and a lot of areas have seen cuts. I hate to see her go, but it is necessary. I would also ask for very careful monitoring of the food service department in the next few months.”

“Monitoring is a priority,” Teall said. “We will have to wait until school starts to see the differences these changes have made.”

In other business, the board agreed in a 5-0 vote to reinstate a high school male minor student who had been expelled in April. At that time, the board agreed the student could return to the board to ask for reinstatement only after completing substance abuse counseling.

“I was not at that meeting so I am not sure what specifics were set, but I do know that the student has met the qualifications set by the board at the time of expulsion and has been reinstated,” Teall said.

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