District to hire firm to provide food services
Bonner Springs-Edwardsville USD 204 will hire a company to provide food services beginning next school year.
With increasing federal regulations causing the cost of providing food services in schools next year, the USD 204 Board of Education Monday agreed to work with Opaa, a company based in Chesterfield, Mo. A final vote of approval is set for the board’s June 4 meeting.
Robert VanMaren, superintendent, said the district received proposals from five companies. Opaa had the lowest prices for lunches, and when the companies where scored based on the state’s rubric, Opaa received the highest score.
He said while the new federal regulations were expected to increase the cost of providing meals, the proposal from Opaa does not increase the district’s costs compared to this year.
Opaa, which made a presentation to the board at its Jan. 23 meeting, serves 87 school districts in Missouri, and USD 204 would be among the first four it is negotiating to serve in Kansas, along with Basehor-Linwood and Piper.
During the Jan. 23 presentation, Opaa representatives said they work with local farmers and provide “made from scratch” items daily, items using whole grain wheat and a different fruit every day of the week. The company charges the district monthly on a per-tray basis, so the district can continue to use its current systems for charging for meals.
Opaa will provide a food service director, ensure menus meet federal regulations, and help with the state reporting requirements. Cafeteria staff will remain with the district.
In Missouri, Opaa replaces school district cafeteria workers with its own through attrition, relieving the district of the cost of the employees and their benefits. However, Kansas does not yet approve of having the company’s employees replacing school district employees.
Charles Thomas, business manager, said that if the district didn’t keep up with the new regulations, it could lose some of the federal funding it receives. He said hiring a private business for food services seemed to be the way to go for smaller districts, as the only other feasible option would be to form a co-op with other small districts.
While the district’s contract would be for five years, the district can review the contract annually with the option to cancel.
Tina Trafton, food service coordinator for the district, said the cafeteria staff members were apprehensive about the change. She reminded the board that the district may have the responsibility to audit Opaa to make sure the company was meeting requirements.
The vote to move forward with an agreement with Opaa was unanimous. A final vote on the food service contract will come at the board’s June 4 meeting.
Board member Jeff Tinberg did not attend the meeting.
In other business, the board:
• Approved a new contract for Eric Hansen to replace Thomas after his retirement later this year. Hansen currently is the business director for the Gardner-Edgerton school district. His title will be director of business and human resources.
• Heard Dawn Jackson, parent, asked that the district pay football coach Luke Aslin for the work he does as a strength and training coach over the summer, during the time for patrons’ questions. Ray Cox, board president, asked that the matter be brought back to the board for future discussion.
• Approved warrants totaling $110,878.
• Approved authorizing VanMaren and Thomas to move forward with bleacher foundation bids, as they will probably fall in between board meetings, to keep the construction of new bleachers on schedule.
• Recognized the BSHS journalism 3A/4A state champions.
• Approved participation in the I Love U Guys Foundation. The free program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, coordinates emergency services and school staff when a crisis occurs at a school.
• Appointed Greg Goheen, attorney, as a second hearing officer for student disciplinary appeals.
• Discussed a Clark Middle School policy for a possible iPad program.
• Approved a Blue Cross Blue Shield Group contract.
• Approved resignations for Jan Madlock, volleyball coach, who is transferring to the high school; Justin Smith, middle school ESL/Spanish teacher, and Donna Theno, bus driver.
• Conducted a 10-minute executive session.