CRYSTAL FALLS—Forest Park students will be paying more for full-price school lunches starting next fall. The decision was made at the School Board’s April 22 monthly meeting.
The 25-cent increase was approved so Forest Park would continue to get federal reimbursement for its lunch program.
Superintendent Becky Waters told the board that the district has to charge an amount for full-price meals that is close to the federal reimbursement rate. The current full price, she said, is too low and has to be increased.
The last increase, 10 cents, was approved two years ago.
“The food service program is undergoing a big change with all the Obama regulations,” Waters reminded the board. “You will see big changes over the next year—calories, sugar, salt, everything has to be monitored.”
On a related note, Board Member Kim Scarlassara asked parents to think healthy when they send treats to school with their children, “Really focus more on healthier treats to give our kids in school. It helps the learning environment as well as their nutrition.”
• The board was updated on the Michigan Merit curriculum, as the Legislature continues debating whether to include requirements for algebra 2 and foreign language in the school aid bill.
“It’s a very political game that they play with the curriculum,” Waters said. “It really has affected our vocational students, with the requirements they have made. Hopefully they can come to some kind of resolution.”
Board Member Lisa Bloomburg noted that two years of ISD programs at the tech center in Kingsford have been cut to one because of the state requirements for foreign language and algebra 1 and 2. “Some students need two years to pass the algebra class,” she said.
“When they graduate from the tech center, they’re not graduating with a full two years. They can only do one year due to the requirements from the state.”
“We’re not happy with the state,” Board President Jim Nocerini said. “But they’re not listening to us. Our vocational kids are struggling. And they’re hurting them.”
• Bloomburg, the Finance Committee chair, reported that the district is projecting enrollment of 465 students next year, down by about 20 from this year, with state funding expected to be unchanged or slightly lower.
The Legislature has not yet approved school aid funding for next year, which means local school officials have to guess what funding level they will eventually approve.
“Some of them want grants,” Bloomburg said. “Some of them want us to earn it. Some want a flat fee. Some want an increase because we are still not even with all the other school districts.
“There are still some out there that get $11,000 to $14,000 [in school aid] per student. We’re still at $7,000.”
• After hearing praise for Forest Park’s grade 2-3 combined class, Waters said it will be moved up to a grade 3-4 class next year. Kimberly Payne leads the class, and parents still will have the option of moving their children to a traditional class. Feedback, though, indicates increasing interest and maybe even a waiting list to get in the combined class.
• The board approved a $7,071 contract with Shamco for a timber sale. Shamco, said Nocerini, is also setting up possible cuts for the next few years and has a replant project. “He is looking for a grant for $3,000 so our students can plant next year,” the board president said.
• Scarlassara told the board that retired Forest Park teacher Verl Hudson recently took part in a professional development day, discussing the writing curriculum with staff.
“She will work with our elementary and middle school English teachers,” Waters said. “It’s an ongoing process over the next school year, as well.
“She has worked directly with West Iron’s writing program, and they’re at the top of the ISD for their writing.”
• The board approved a wiring bid for $54,000 from Van Ert Electric in Kingsford. This includes wiring for the phone system as well as computers and Enhanced 911 compliance.
It also approved seeking bids an intercom at the school’s front door (the westernmost entrance in front of the school). “That’s the last piece of the pie for our security system,” Waters said. “It will be a big change.”
The intercom will have both voice and video. The system will be installed before school starts next fall.
• Scarlassara said the district will look at a revised band policy for instruments, possibly going to a monthly rental fee due to the increasing costs of the instruments.
• The varsity sports banquet will be held May 23 at the Eddie Chambers Gym. The junior varsity teams already had their event. The program is sponsored by the Forest Park Sports Boosters, which recently purchased new uniforms for the track team.
• Jen Spreen was hired as a tutor for a home-bound middle school student recovering from an operation.