They had a great deal to do this summer to get ready for today and they did it.
Brad Priday had the responsibility of ordering enough food to feed an average of 2,200-2,500 students a day, depending on the menu, which boils down to 400,000 lunches and 56,000 breakfasts a year.
On his shopping list was 8,000 to 9,000 hamburger buns, 5,000 hot dog buns, 300 cases of ketchup, 75 cases of mustard, 25 pounds of sugar and literally thousands of cartons of milk - just to name a few items.
"Milk and bread orders are placed with the companies the Friday before school starts and delivered fresh the first morning of school," explained Priday, who was hired last year as the food services director. "Ketchup, mustard, etc., comes in between mid July and the start of school. Everything else started coming in early this week."
The toughest part of the job, he said, is making sure that food services is staffed completely, the kitchens are stocked and student balances are transferred from last year.
"I'm learning a lot of new things," he said. "One area that I really have to look at that affected us late in the year especially after Sept. 11 was cost and one area that hit us were some of the commodity markets. One thing we're not receiving as much as we have in the past is ground beef from our government. That pretty much halted after about January so we've had to go out on the open market and try to get a price on that. This year my main goal is to work on our costs and make sure we can keep them down like they have been in the past."
He pointed out that 30 percent of Sikeston Public Schools students are on some type of assistance from the state, qualifying them for free lunches.
"This year the students can expect a good variety of the items we see they like from the year before," said Priday. "I will try to add a few new entrees to our menu to see how the students respond." Chicken fryz, french fry-shaped chicken strips, are among the favorites, he reported.
Every year the district works on a maintenance and construction schedule to keep buildings in working order and to make improvements. This year was no different, as the building and grounds department was in full force these last few months, in preparation for today.
Their projects included making some big changes to Southeast Elementary School where light cloud-shaped light fixtures now hang in the bus room and the classrooms have been transformed into individual houses complete with porch lights.
"Our staff worked extremely hard this summer to make sure all our facilities were ready for the students to come back," said Terry Bryant, director. "Each year we do these quality projects to try to make our facilities look the best they can possibly look."
There's also a lot of behind the scenes work for educators before school starts. "New teachers and their mentors attend a workshop in Cape Girardeau," explained Dr. Larry Bohannon assistant superintendent of secondary education and staff development.
"Here new teachers are given the opportunity to learn what support to expect and mentors learn what is needed to make the new teachers the most successful."
In August, administrators attended a two-day in-service to review annual procedures such as professional development plans for the year, curriculum revisions, safety measures, special education and performance-based evaluations. Principals met with the new teachers in their buildings and oriented them to them, as well as unique procedures in their building," said Bohannon. Also teachers attended meetings with their principal and department chairs in the secondary division.
Benchmark tests were reviewed to see students' strengths and weaknesses. Teachers worked during the summer on curriculum revisions, preparing lessons and assessments for student achievement and they worked diligently getting their classrooms ready with decorations, preparing teaching lessons and student assessments.
"After putting it all together," said Bohannon, " we are very much ready for the beginning of a great school year."