School explores contracting for food service operation

The Houston board of education is exploring the possibility of contracting its food service operation to an outside firm. The discussion was among several held Monday during a meeting that saw the board re-organize following last week’s election.

Opaa! Food Management Inc., a Chesterfield firm, presented information about its services, which are in place in about 70 school districts in the state. In this area, Marshfield, Mountain Grove, Mountain View-Birch Tree and Winona use the company, which has operated since 1978.

The school board will seek bids as part of its study, but members may opt to keep the food service in-house, said Dr. Dan Vandiver, superintendent.

In other matters, members:

-Discussed the arrival of natural gas to Houston, and no action was taken whether to use the service.

-Adopted a new mission statement for the district, “Striving for excellence…learning for all.” As part of revising the district’s improvement plan, the committee responsible developed it.

-Will seek bids for the district’s banking business, voted to participate in the state’s career ladder program and selected board member Sharon Horbyk as its Missouri School Boards’ Association delegate for the upcoming year.

-Heard good news concerning health insurance rates for the upcoming school year. Prices in the consortium used by Houston and other school districts will fall about 3.76 percent. That translates into a savings for Houston of about $26,000.

-Reorganized following the April 7 school board election. Kathy Hutcheson and Steve Pounds were re-elected to three-year terms. Officers are: Dr. Tom Dunn, president; Horbyk, vice president; and Hutcheson, secretary-treasurer. Janice Maxwell will continue as executive board secretary.

-Recognized Michael Castleman, who was selected to attend the Missouri Scholars Academy this summer at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He is one of about 300 selected statewide to attend. The program is based on the premise that Missouri’s gifted youth must be provided with special opportunities for learning and personal development for them to realize their full potential.

-Were presented with a framed award from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recognizing the district as “Accredited with Distinction” based on student performance. It is the seventh year in a row that Houston has won the award.

-Received an update on Houston’s selection to host a spring regional meeting of the Missouri School Boards’ Association on April 23. The event will be in the Houston Elementary School commons area.

-Accepted resignations for the 2009-2010 school year: Sarah James, Exceptional Child Cooperative; and Andrea Czartoryski, Russell Kane and Karen Dalbom, paraprofessionals.

-Hired for ’09-’10 school year: Amanda Reed, cooperative; Debbie Antrim, high school communications arts; Diana Hasten, high school chemistry/physics/integrated science; Amy McNew, high school paraprofessional; and rehired non-certified staff and offered extra duty contracts.

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