Basehor-Linwood school board members optimistic about possible food-service contractor
Every morning, Richard Zamora checks his third-grade daughter’s school-lunch calendar. If there’s an X crossing out that day’s date in crayon, he knows it means she wasn’t interested in any of the meals her school has to offer, and he’ll have to pack her a lunch.
But when he looked over a sample menu calendar from a potential food-service contractor Monday night, the Basehor-Linwood school board member said that practice might come to an end.
“I’m not sure she would X off a single day off this calendar,” Zamora said.
At a board meeting Monday, members heard a presentation from executives for Opaa Food Management, a school food service company with which the district could sign on for the 2012-13 school year.
Greg and Sheila Frost, both vice presidents for Opaa, said the Chesterfield, Mo.- based company had contracted with almost 90 school districts in Missouri to offer food services, and it was now looking to expand into Kansas. Basehor-Linwood is one of four Kansas districts — others include Bonner Springs and Piper — considering switching to a private food-service contractor rather than purchasing their own food through a state service, Greg Frost said. Four other districts already use food-service contractors, he said.
He said the company could buy food for cheaper than most districts because of the volume the company handles, and the quality of the food was enough to increase school-lunch participation in the districts it serves.
“What we pride ourselves on is scratch cooking,” Frost said.
Sheila Frost, Greg’s wife, said the company gets much of its produce from local farms, and a variety of fruit and vegetable options encourage students to eat healthier.
School board president Dayna Miller recalled a trip last month to two schools in Platte County, Mo., where Opaa provides food services, on which a handful of students joined administrators and board members. The students raved about the food, she said, noting among other things that the lettuce in the salad bar was leafy and green, as opposed to the iceberg lettuce used in the Basehor-Linwood schools now.
“They were impressed with all the choices, but even more than that, they kept talking about how good the food was,” Miller said.
Superintendent David Howard said he hoped the service would save money for parents of high-school and middle-school students by enticing more of them to eat the basic hot school lunches rather than a la carte options that can be more expensive.
“I think we hear some of that at the start of every year: ‘Our kids are eating off a la carte, and our lunch bill is skyrocketing,’ ” Howard said.
Basic school lunches cost $2.20 each in Basehor-Linwood elementaries and $2.30 in the middle and high schools.
Howard said he expected Opaa to bid on the district’s food services when the district releases a request for proposals, likely in early March. The choice to go with Opaa, choose another contractor or stick with the district’s present system would be up to board members.
Greg Frost said the company would continue to use the district’s food-service workers, but as employees leave or retire over time the company would hire its own workers to replace them.
Also at Monday’s board meeting:
• The board appointed Shelley Stevens as a new member.
• Howard said he would recommend that the district hire an additional principal for the 2012-13 year, to oversee Basehor Elementary School. If that happens, Teri Boyd, currently the principal at BES as well as Basehor Intermediate School, would work at BIS only.
BES houses students in kindergarten through second grade, while BIS, constructed after the district’s 2007 bond issue passed, is home to third- through fifth-graders in the same attendance area.
Howard said the schools’ combined enrollment had grown from about 400 at the time the bond issue was passed to about 480 now.
• The board approved, 7-0, a resolution allowing the district to refinance debt remaining from a 2005 upgrade to heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems.
• Assistant superintendent Mike Boyd reported that the district had gained 21 students over winter break, bringing its total enrollment increase during the 2011-12 school year to more than 80 students.
• The board approved the district’s 2012-13 calendar, 7-0.
• The board approved an audit report, 7-0.
• The board approved, 7-0, the hiring of Katie Maize, food service worker; accepted, 7-0, the resignations of Whitney Crary, fourth-grade teacher at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School, and Renee Meyer, food service worker; and accepted, 7-0, the retirements of Steve Myer, Basehor-Linwood High School industrial arts teacher, and Jack Morris, Basehor-Linwood Middle School social studies teacher.
• After a 10-minute executive session to discuss matters related to nonelected personnel, the board approved, 7-0, the retirement of Tom Cooper, Basehor-Linwood Middle School language arts teacher.