In addition to renewing a three-year contract with IServe Professional Cleaning for custodial services, Centre board approved a one-year contract with Oopa Food Management to provide meals during the next school year.
Both actions were preceded by intense discussions.
Superintendent Susan Beeson presented information showing that food costs always have exceeded revenue.
“Food service doesn’t generate dollars for school districts,” she said.
She estimated the contract could cost the district an additional $26,000, but there would be some savings from less staff time spent on food service.
Marion and other surrounding school districts that already use Oopa were contacted by board president Rick Basore. He said they all gave favorable reports. They said the service provides good food including a salad bar and fruit with good-sized portions.
“I believe the quality will improve,” Basore said.
“I think we should try it for a year,” Anita Svoboda said.
The contract was approved in a 5-2 vote, with Mark Heiser and Jeff Bina abstaining. The board will evaluate the quality and cost of the service in January.
In considering the IServe contract, most board members were effusive in their praise for the job the company has done to update and improve facilities.
“Richard is my right-hand man,” Beeson said of facilities manager Richard Idleman. “He takes care of things 24/7.”
Jeff Bina, who voted against the contract when IServe first was hired, questioned the three-year contract. He thought the service should be brought up for review every year.
The others didn’t agree, and the contract was approved 6-1.
The board failed to move on a proposal by the transportation director to purchase a 14-passenger bus for $19,990 to transport pre-school children home after morning classes next year.
Beeson abandoned her plan to combine first and second grades into one classroom after two new students were slated to enroll in those classes next year, which would bring the class size to 19. The board voted to advertise for a kindergarten teacher. Brianna Methvin, who was slated to teach kindergarten, will continue as first-grade teacher.
The board approved the purchase of 100 computers for the Kansas Online Learning Program at a cost of $39,200.
Technology director Andrew Linville said the purchase was necessary because many computers aren’t returned when online students or adults drop out or finish the program, or computers are damaged beyond repair when they are returned.
Melissa Barton was employed as an IT for KOLP.
The board also approved the purchase from Apple of 13 iPods with covers for $5,856.
The district will kick in about $500 to help the ag department purchase a computerized plasma-cutting machine for about $14,000. Most of the money has already been raised through other sources including a Greenbush grant.
Ag instructors Laura Klenda and Jon Meyer said students will use the machine for creative projects and could use it to start their own business.
Marion County Special Education director David Shepherd reported the hiring of Joe Kvas as the new special education teacher at Centre. Kvas has 29 years of experience. Shepherd said he teaches at Yates Center and wants to move closer to Newton, where his wife works.
Shepherd reported that Centre has 55 students enrolled in special education, including four gifted students. He said it costs four times as much to educate a special education student as a regular student.