YUTAN – Changes and updates are being made under the new food service director for Yutan Public Schools.
At the Yutan Board of Education meeting Oct. 16, Mary Slepicka reported some of the work she has done since taking over as food service director six weeks ago.
Slepicka said she has received complaints from parents that the cafeterias are running out of the main entrée before all students are served. She said she is working with the kitchen staff to address the problem.
“We need to make sure we’re serving the first student and the last student the same offerings,” she said.
The food service director is rolling out several new ideas to get more kids to the breakfast table. Slepicka said they have added a new grab-and-go breakfast feature at the elementary school and are rolling out a new breakfast menu with five or six new items in the first week of November to attract more students, because numbers are down for the morning meal.
“Only about 20 percent of our kids come in for breakfast, compared to 70 percent at lunch,” Slepicka told the board.
The breakfast menu now includes cereal in single serve “bowl packs,” Slepicka said, where the cereal is packaged in its own plastic bowl.
“It makes kids really independent,” she added.
Slepicka has also implemented changes in ordering, training and record-keeping. She told the board she is using Google Docs to order food, and is working on writing job descriptions for the staff. She is also cross-training employees so they can rotate between jobs. Creating employee files to keep track of attendance, training and other records is another area Slepicka has focused on since taking the job, she said.
Elementary Principal Trevor Hoegh said he is pleased with the changes Slepicka has made, especially in rotating food service employees.
“When someone is gone, everything still flows,” he said.
Slepicka is also focusing on bringing the school district into compliance in areas like nutritional analysis, training and ordering. But her main effort is making the entire food service staff a cohesive team.
“So that’s my final goal,” she said. “It may take a while.”
Superintendent Mitch Hoffer said he is pleased with the work Slepicka has done so far and plans she has for the future.
“It’s all going to be good changes,” he said. “It’s just going to take some time to get there.”
In other action, the board did not approve a request from the TeamMates program to match a $500 stipend for Hoegh’s time and effort he puts into the program.
The request has been before the board during at least three previous meetings, said Board President Joe Vandenack. Board Member Dan Josoff noted that the amount of money was not large, but asked that the extra tasks be added to Hoegh’s job as principal and added to the budget plan.
Hoegh said the request was driven by the TeamMates board because they meet on Sunday evenings and at other times outside of the school day. He added that they have grown the program from two mentor/mentee matches to 15.
After the vote to deny the request, Vandenack added, “We appreciate the effort that you’re making and we appreciate the program.”
Later in the meeting, the board discussed updating the school district’s phone system. Hoffer had bids from two companies that ranged from $38,600 to $49,400 for an internet-based system that would have 100 phones. He said he would discuss the bid with the companies to see if he could get it lowered, because they didn’t need all the “bells and whistles” these bids had. The board will vote on the revised bids next month.
The board did approve a new accounting software package. Hoffer said the district currently uses one software program for accounting and another for payroll, but the new package will do both.
The cost for the first year will be $32,875, and $17,250 annually after the first year. Hoffer said they pay $17,845 now for the two software packages, so after the initial cost, it will be a wash financially.
The new software program will also help the district resolve issues with financial record-keeping, Hoffer said.
The school board also approved contributing $1,000 toward solar-powered flashing lights at the crosswalk on Second Street by the elementary that will be purchased by the City of Yutan. Hoffer said the city has received a grant for the lights, but is asking the school district to pay a third of the cost remaining beyond the grant.
“They are asking us to contribute $1,000 because the primary reason for the sign (being there) is the school,” he said.
Vandenack said there has been a lot of back-and-forth between the school district and the city on the crosswalk signal.
“It’s time that it is a community effort,” he added.
Hoegh said there is a lot of traffic on Second Street when children are out, especially in the mornings.
“I think it’s a good idea,” he said.