Board discusses school lunch losses

By Matt Clevenger

For Miami Valley Today

CASSTOWN — Faced with decreasing school lunch revenues due to COVID-19, the Miami East Board of Education has approved an advance of $50,000 from the general fund to the food service fund, to be repaid within one year.

“This may not be the last time that I bring a request for an advance to that fund,” district treasurer Lisa Fahncke told board members during their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Aug. 17. “As a result of COVID-19, our balance in that fund is running significantly lower than it normally does.”

“When COVID hit in March, we continued to pay our folks salaries and benefits,” she said, noting that the state usually reimburses the district for lunches served on a monthly basis. “We would still offer lunches that we would offer remotely, but we only had about 40 kids who came out to that; when you compare that to hundreds of students eating per day, it creates a significant loss.”

“If we don’t recover that significant loss, then I’ll probably come to the board and ask them to convert the advance to a transfer,” Fahncke said.

“I don’t think lunch will look markedly different at the K-8 building,” district superintendent Dr. Todd Rappold said. “Cooks have been on campus since mid-July. The high school has done a phenomenal job; they’re going to run three lunches so that kids have more time and they can space kids out.”

In other business, board members also discussed other policy changes for the 2020-2021 school year. “We’re going to allow car riders to start entering the building at 7:05 this year, instead of 7:20,” Dr. Rappold said. “They can then go to one of the three gymnasiums, where they can socially distance. It’s a good plan for the morning, and in the afternoon we’ll just do everything pretty much in reverse.”

“We’re going to try our very best to make things seem as normal as possible,” he said, “but things will not be normal.”

The district will once again follow the governor’s color-coded county guidelines, and will begin following travel guidelines. Students or staff awaiting COVID-19 test results will also be required to stay home until they receive those results.

“We’re going to follow the governor’s travel advisories for different states,” Dr. Rappold said. “We’ll start posting those states, and if a student or a staff member visits those states we’re going to ask them to stay home for 14 days before they return.”

“We will not have any perfect attendance awards this year,” he said. “That is not our intent, for students or staff to come to work if they are not feeling well. Calling in and not feeling well; it’s going to be a little bit more lenient than it has before.”

Board members also discussed the district’s online-only option, and voted to approve bus routes for the 2020-2021 school year. “We’re at about 90 right now who are signed up, taking advantage of the online option,” Dr. Rappold said.

“Right now our bus schedule has changed very little,” he said. “We’re going to keep the routes the same as they were last year, anticipating that we’ll have some students that will be online and a potential increase in car riders, so that it will make it easier for us to socially distance on the bus. There was no discussion about eliminating any bus routes at this time.”

“Kids will be expected to wear a face mask,” Dr. Rappold said. “Each of the buses will have additional face masks; when the kids enter the school bus, there will be hand sanitizer.”

School will start on Wednesday, Aug. 26 under a hybrid model so that students can adjust to the new system. Students with last names starting with A-L will attend in-person classes August 26 and 28, while those starting with M-Z will attend in-person classes on August 27 and 31.

A re-opening FAQ page is available on the district’s web site. Board members’ next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 21, at the Miami East High School.