School Board rejects district food proposal

Plan was based on four-year-old report, lacked reliable budget

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Juneau School Board flatly rejected a food service plan for the district's middle and high schools on Tuesday because the proposal was based on a four-year-old report and lacked a reliable budget.

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The Juneau School District staff had recommended the proposal.

The School Board directed Superintendent Peggy Cowan and Director of Administrative Services David Means to rework the proposal before sending it back through the School Board Facilities Committee.

"It needs to be updated completely," Margo Waring, School Board member, said. "All of that information came from a 2004 report."

School Board President Andi Story called the amount of work needed to fix the proposal "substantial."

"We could include a complete budget," Cowan said.

School Board Vice President Phyllis Carlson said she was surprised to see the proposal as a final reading ready for action, since the board had not seen it before this week. Usually the School Board reviews proposals twice before a final vote, although it's not required.

The proposal briefly outlined a two-year plan to build a lunch program capable of feeding students at Juneau-Douglas High School and Thunder Mountain High School in the first year. The program would begin feeding the district's two middle schools in the second year.

Means told the School Board the program would be financially self-sustaining, but gave no details.

Waring said the plan could potentially cost $500,000.

The so-called "Bundy Report" emerged to offer the School Board concepts of what the district might do in response to the possibility of requiring high school students to stay on campus for lunch.

"It's been a board wish that we use both kitchens to provide hot meals," Cowan said.

A critic of the district plan said the proposal did not contain enough current research to bother presenting it to the School Board.

"Things change rapidly in the food service industry. That report done in March 2004 will not be accurate," said John Kobbe, a school lunch supervisor for ESS World Wide, which delivers 840 lunches a day to 11 Juneau Schools.

"It's the context that's valuable," Means said.

Tuesday's presentation was the first time the entire School Board had seen the report.

"The school district wanted to push it through without concern for how much it cost or who would pay for it," Kobbe said.

Means said he was not trying to rush the plan past the School Board.

"It was not my intention," he said.

The proposal had been viewed twice by members of the Facilities Committee, but the overall lack of knowledge might have come with recent changes to committee membership, Means said.

"We didn't have the communications quite down," Means said.

Cowan said there was no hurry and that the district would do as the School Board directed and create a budget and alternative options.

"They need to hire a consulting firm to do it right," Kobbe said. "They need someone who knows what they're doing."

• Contact Greg Skinner at 523-2258 or greg.skinner@juneauempire.com.



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