HOPE – On the heels of a highly successful summer meals program, the Hope Public Schools Nutrition Services Department offered a preview to the Hope Public Schools Board here Monday night of innovations to be developed for campus lunch rooms in the school district this year, along with a tasty sampling.
Nutrition Services Director Deanna Gilbert said 4,621 summer meals were served during the free lunch program conducted at the Hope High School cafeteria, Hope Fair Park pavilion area and the Northside Park pavilion area from June to August.
“I think it was a really good summer when we have that many kids,” Gilbert said. “I think branching out was a good idea.”
Gilbert introduced Courtney Nutt, food service director, and Robert Ginder, district manager, for Aramark, the national institutional food services company contracting to provide meals service to the district.
Nutt directs local operations for Aramark, where Ginder manages K-12 education-based services for Aramark in Arkansas.
Ginder said Aramark is changing the way students eat by changing their perceptions of what they eat.
“It’s a process that takes time to get into place; but, over time, it works,” he said.
The concept includes significant variety both in food choices and service styles, Ginder said. That includes offering café style menus, pizzeria based dishes, Mexican food, and main dish traditional lunches.
“The final goal will be three entre choices a day (at elementary level),” Ginder said.
He said that expands to four choices from middle school into high school that will include concepts such as a Deli line and nacho bar at Hope High School.
All meals in the Hope district are free of charge to students, Ginder said. He said addressing necessary nutritional needs where students ignore free servings because of limited choices is a goal for Aramark.
“Knowing how kids still bring meals from home, we are trying to address that,” he said.
Ginder said changes will be incremental, but evident across all five HPSD campuses, including planned discussion of a “second chance breakfast” offering at HHS that will require modifying the daily schedule.
Gilbert said that student response has been consistent since the start of the school year.
Also Monday, the board approved the annual district minority recruitment plan and will consider changing the current sign-on bonus from $3,000 over three years to $5,000 over five years.
HPS Equity Compliance Coordinator Portia Jones told the board that, while the current bonus provision has attracted new teachers to the district, it has failed to retain them more than one year into the non-bonus contract.
“Once the teachers receive that distribution, they leave the district,” Jones said.
She also recommended that the district establish more teacher qualification partnerships that will allow the district to “grow our own” new teachers.
“We need to establish some boundaries; and, make it worth their while to stay,” Zone 8 Representative David “Bubba” Powers said. “I do think we’re on the right track.”
Jones said college and university schools of education have departed from traditional teacher placement themselves and now allow student teachers to choose where they will practice teach. She said that, more often, indicates where the student teacher is willing to sign a contract.
In other matters Monday, the board:
--Approved Arkansas School Board Association model policies updates.
--Approved personnel changes.
--Reviewed current improvement projects including roofing replacement at Hope High School, parking lot expansion at Clinton Primary School, and plans for remodeling the former home and family studies “cottage” at HHS to house a new campus-based health clinic.
--Approved a facilities use request for a Class of 1998 vs. Class of 2008 basketball challenge at the HHS Jones Field House on Oct. 6.
--Approved an annual statement of assurance regarding the use of federal funds.