Board boosts nutrition program

HOPE – Students in the Hope Public Schools and the larger community in Hope got a summer of nutrition and fun, and Clinton Primary School will get a new cafeteria look. HPS Nutrition Director Deanna Gilbert and Aramark/District Food Services Director Cortney Nutt received support Monday night from the Hope Public Schools Board Monday for innovations in the program.

Gilbert presented a review of the newly-evolved Fuel Up summer nutrition program offered by the district in the summer, noting it exceeded her goal of 5,000 meals served. She said the program branched out with its own fun bus this year which provided free books and activities.

“The kids were really excited about that,” Gilbert said. “We read to them; and, sometimes, they read to us.”

She said the daily meal service at Hope Fair Park and Northside Community Park also included programs and activities provided by Hempstead County Master Gardeners, Pafford Emergency Medical Services, Hope Fire Department, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and the Hope Rotary Club.

Master Gardeners provided seeds and potting soil for a flower growing project, she said.

“The kids would come back and say, ‘My flower really grew,’” Gilbert said.

The youth also learned about first responders in a friendly environment, she said.

“We wanted to show the kids there as nothing to be afraid about,” Gilbert explained.

She said EMTs provided personal tours of an ambulance, firefighters explained the workings of a fire truck, and AGFC officers talked about wildlife. The Rotarians spent their time reading to the students, she said.

“This is an absolutely wonderful program,” Zone 8 Representative David “Bubba” Powers commented. “It seems to be getting better every year; more family-friendly. I am so proud of it.”

Other innovations in the nutrition program included the Breakfast in the Classroom initiative piloted at Beryl Henry Elementary School. Nutt said breakfast attendance last year was less than 100 students daily; but averaged almost 200 daily during the pilot period this year.

The board approved two changes for the nutrition program Monday, including a contract with Digital Effects, of Nash, Texas, for decorative redesign of the Clinton Primary School cafeteria.

“We’ve already done the high school, Yerger and HAPS; so, I’m trying to finish up,” Gilbert said.

She said the redesign will take on patriotic and sports themes.

The board also approved a contract with Titan School Solutions, of Irvine, Calif., for “point of service software” which will automatically update meal service data during serving daily and will resolve technical issues with current software, according to Gilbert.

Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart also apprised the board of the selection of CPS Cafeteria Manager Sandra Calhoun as one of 200 Aramark “Ring of Stars” honorees worldwide. Aramark is the Philadelphia, Pa., based vendor for HPSD food services. Calhoun will be recognized in October at a corporate gathering in Scottsdale, Ariz.

In other matters Monday night:

--Hart said the district has been selected for an Opportunity Grant which is a mechanism to allow teachers to be designated and compensated with a stipend as instructional leaders similar to instructional facilitators.

--Hart said he is working with the Hope Rotary Club to develop at Teacher Appreciation Week event in May.

--The board approved the replacement of electronic signage on the front lawn at Hope High School.

--The board approved an annual accreditation statement of assurances.

--The board approved an annual minority recruitment statement.

--The board designated Dr. Linda Clark as district family surrogate officer.

--The board approved a special education tuition agreement with the Spring Hill Public Schools.

--The board approved personnel recommendations by Hart.