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Sikeston R-6 OKs food service director

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

SIKESTON -- A new director of food services for Sikeston R-6 was approved during Tuesday's regular Board of Education meeting.

Doris Mills of Morehouse will begin working for the district on Monday. The hiring of Mills came after the June resignation of the district's food service director, who accepted employment out of state.

"At that time the board had to make a decision whether to replace a food service director or hire a management company to come in and run the program," explained Lori Boardman, Sikeston R-6 director of business services.

Essentially the board made the decision to hire a company and privatize the program based on economic reasons, Boardman noted.

Beginning in June and carried out through July, Sikeston R-6 followed a process required by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to privatize their food services. Chartwells School Dining Services was ultimately awarded the bid.

"Part of the request of the proposal with Chartwells was that the board would approve the director of food services, which is what they did today," Boardman pointed out.

Another stipulation of privatizing Sikeston's food services was that all of Sikeston R-6's current food service employees would remain working for the district at least at their current rate of pay and with a similar work schedule, Boardman said.

"Actually one of the things Chartwells proposed was a five percent pay increase for employees -- so employees couldn't lose," Boardman said.

It was also written in the proposal for individuals who work for Sikeston Public Schools that if they live out of district, they don't have to pay out-of-district tuition. Plus anyone who worked in 1984 or prior had the opportunity to choose early retirement and go with Chartwells, Boardman said, adding these individuals are currently making their decisions to work for Chartwells or Sikeston R-6.

Chartwells recommended Mills, who is a 1990 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in human environmental studies and has worked as a nutrition specialist for Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation from 1996 to present.

By privatizing food services, students at the elementary and secondary levels will be given different choices, Boardman said.

"With Chartwells being a national company, they have in place several nutritional programs and some activities they will bring to the table for the (elementary) kids to enjoy," Boardman noted.

Chartwells' goal is to build on the participation level from the students, Boardman said.

Although school starts Aug. 19, Boardman reminded it may be September before the public notices a big difference in menus at schools. The first 21 menus were already planned in May and will reflect the school's previous food services, she explained.

"The change was made for economic reasons -- it's just a different way of doing business," Boardman said. "The employees won't lose, kids won't lose and essentially, it should be beneficial to the district in the long run."

In other business Tuesday, the board approved a proposed tax levy for fiscal year 2005. The levy is set at $2.63 in Funds I and 62 cents in Funds II for a total tax levy of $3.25, Boardman said.

Brent Keefer with the senior high school briefed the board on the 2003-2004 year of Sikeston Bulldog athletics. Keefer noted the following statistics: 211 boys lettered in a varsity or junior varsity sport; 147 girls lettered in a varsity or junior varsity sport (including cheerleading); six athletes received athletic scholarships from a college or university; 14 local scholarships were awarded; 38 All-Conference selections; 30 All-District selections; 17 All-State selections; one All-American and First Round Draft Choice.

Keefer added 50-plus students showed up for fall practice on Monday.

The board also accepted the retirement of Rodney McConnell, director of video services and operator of the cable TV access channel, effective Oct. 1.

Cindi Griffin, assistant superintendent of elementary and special services, reported there were 55 retainees for the 2003-2004 school year with 39 in kindergarten and first grade.

In the previous year, there were 44 retainees in kindergarten and first grade.