WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley Community Local School District Board of Education members held their first monthly meeting of the new year on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
Board president Tim Beneke was re-elected to that post by unanimous vote near the top of Wednesday’s meeting. Beneke then nominated board member Christine Bitner to serve as Vice President. Both were subsequently sworn into office by school district treasurer Tearalee Riddlebarger.
Superintendent Scott Cottingim announced that January is School Board Member Appreciation Month.
“I want to formally recognize each of our board members for all they do for our school and our students,” Cottingim said before handing out certificates of appreciation to each of the assembled board members.
“I don’t think folks realize how much time you guys put in, and we appreciate all you do for us,” Cottingim continued.
Food service issues
Board members discussed reconsidering their relationship with Aramark, the company that provides TVS students with breakfast and lunch each day.
Aramark currently charges the district $2.53 per meal, according to Cottingim, the majority of which the district is reportedly reimbursed for by the state. In spite of this, the district is currently more than $60,000 “in the hole” on lunches, according to board member Jason DeLong.
“We have run pretty much flush my entire time on the board, so what happened?” DeLong asked. “I want to see where we went from being flush to being in the red. We do it with our budget. We do it with our annual forecast. Why can’t we do it with lunches?”
Beneke expressed similar sentiments.
“It did seem like one year we were pretty much even and the next we were $60,000 in debt,” Beneke said.
Cottingim indicated that increasing food and labor costs account for a portion of the deficit. The board discussed holding a work session in February to further discuss the lunch issue.
Bitner raised concerns about trash from recycling containers located on school property creating labor-intensive messes for employees to clean up.
“We really need the community’s help, and the village’s help, to keep track of what’s going on with these containers,” Bitner said. “We’re providing a service for the town, and if the community wants to keep that service, everybody needs to pitch in. The school doesn’t need to be out there picking up trash.”
“Those dumpsters out there are not our problem, but they’re our eyesore,” DeLong said. “The school doesn’t need to be using tax dollars we get to educate kids to pay someone to pick up trash for three hours.”
Elementary school report
K-6 Principal Patti Holly stated that 63 percent of students had passed their third-grade reading assessment.
“We usually come through with 100 percent of our students moving on to the next grade, but this is obviously not a normal time,” Holly said.
Holly indicated that after-school academic help and shortened recess periods to allow kids more study time might be used to help improve performance.
Holly also stated that students had raised $700 to buy meals for needy families during the holidays.
“We usually buy toys, but other groups stepped in this year,” Holly said.
Finally, Cottingim discussed creating a committee to examine possible uses for levy funds. The district plans to put a $250,000 renewal levy on the ballot this year, most likely in November. The levy, which was last passed in 2016, previously paid for the school’s roof to be replaced.
Possible uses for renewal funds include upgrades to the school’s athletic facilities and bus garage, according to Cottingim, including a concession stand, additional restrooms, and a workout facility.
“When we go to the public, we want to be able to say, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’” Cottingim said.
The next meeting of the Twin Valley Community School District Board of Education will be held Monday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Twin Valley Middle School Media Center.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish