By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Tuesday’s school board meeting had a long list of agenda items, some of which could make some noticeable changes at Chase County Schools if they proceed.
While no action was taken, two of the items—bus route “hubs” and an expanded breakfast program—will get further consideration by the board of education.
Tuesday’s five-hour meeting also included two hours of closed sessions, as well as discussion and action on a host of other topics.
The board will look a little closer at offering an expanded breakfast program next year through the federal program.
Currently, CCS offers à la carte breakfast items, and students can stop in and purchase breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, cinnamon rolls, muffins, etc.
The federal government’s program would provide hot and cold breakfast items, too, such as whole grain pancakes and healthy cereals. Like the school lunch program, breakfast menu items will have to meet federal guidelines.
Supt. Brad Schoeppey said students must be allowed 20 minutes to eat breakfast, according to the government regulations.
With classes starting at 8:05 a.m., busses will have to arrive at the school at least by 7:45 to give those students wanting to eat the required 20 minutes, he said.
If a bus is late, Schoeppey said the students will still have the 20 minutes to eat breakfast.
Schoeppey added that if the breakfast program is adopted, the à la carte program now offered will have to be removed. Both can’t be offered, he said.
School Lunch Manager Cindy Brunkhorst agreed with that Wednesday morning. She added that the breakfast program guidelines won’t be out until next summer, so couldn’t elaborate on what specifically might be on the government breakfast menu.
Citing studies that show the importance of breakfast, Schoeppey said the federal program will likely be beneficial to many students here, especially those who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program.
Board President Jeff Olsen said he supports the move to the federal program.
“I’m the one pushing this,” Olsen said.
“I want the kids who need the food to be able to get it.”
Olsen added that students using the à la carte program can go elsewhere to buy those items.
The à la carte program is seeing an increase of about $50 to $100 a day this year, according to secretary Crystal Jaeger.
Offering the federal program would likely increase the part-time lunchroom workers to full-time, Schoeppey said.
An additional morning lunchroom monitor and a person scanning cards would also be needed for the morning if the program is started.
The breakfast program through the feds will also be open to the public as the lunch program is, according to the discussion.
No action was taken, but board members suggested a survey first to see what the interest would be.
The board’s transportation committee will do some further study on the possibility of school bus “hubs” versus door-to-door school bus service in the country.
Supt. Schoeppey noted there have been concerns brought to the board about the early times some students have to get on the busses.
In this scenario, several “hubs” would be established on each route, probably at selected rural residences, where students would be driven by their parents. The bus would pick up groups of students at those “hubs.”
Schoeppey said with fewer stops, bus pick up times wouldn’t have to start so early.
“It’s an option for the board to look at,” he said.
Schoeppey said it might also increase the number of students using bus service.
He said he checked with the transportation people at the Department of Education and schools can use the “hub” option as long as the parents don’t have to drive more than three miles to the “hub.”
He also noted that schools are not bound by law to provide transportation to high school students, but those older students could utilize the “hubs,” too.
Schoeppey noted there are some concerns with use of “hubs,” including bad weather and if parents would be able to wait with students.
Another question needed answered is what happens if parents are not there to meet their students after school.
More on the school board meeting will be addressed in next week’s issue.