STARS Board Discusses Lunch Dilemma
The STARS board of directors spent most of its Jan. 14 meeting hearing new principal Wes Graner go over a laundry list of items.
The meeting was originally scheduled for Jan. 11 but had to be rescheduled because of inclement weather. Board members Larry Graham and Bonnie McPeake were not present.
Graner said that in the days school has been in session, he has been busy trying to address several issues, including how the school will accommodate students qualifying for free and reduced lunch.
At its December meeting, the board voted to prohibit the distribution of food that isn't prepackaged, citing potential liability issues. STARS' policy says that students must bring their lunch because the school does not have the proper facilities to support a meal program.
When students returned from Christmas break, the school had received donated prepackaged meals to help students who do not have the means to bring lunch.
Graner told the board that the school has decided to incur the cost of purchasing Lunchables, packaged meals of crackers and slices of meat and cheese, for any student who needs a meal.
"We don't want anybody to go hungry," he said. "I feel like that's our responsibility to provide something for someone if they can't eat."
Graner said the meals are not a solution to the issue and that they are an option for children who truly have no other way to get a meal at lunchtime. He said he plans to meet with a food distributor this week in order to see if purchasing meals directly from a distributor would be a "fiscally responsible" way of addressing the issue.
Graner added that he has spoken to the Moore County Health Department to determine what types of activities are permissible at the school.
He said the board could allow the PTO to resume its pizza fundraiser that it previously held every Friday, but the health department told him that the fundraiser would have to be limited to once a month.
Graner said he intends to discuss the possibility of starting the fundraiser again with representatives from the PTO.
He also asked the board for permission to create a position for an accountability director, who would help monitor academic progress throughout the year and keep teacher licensure up-to-date.
"We're our own human resources department here, so we have to take care of things on site," he said.
Graner added that this person would help coordinate testing and also serve as another "set of eyes" during class observations.
Because the position would be filled in the middle of the school year, Graner told the board that it would be difficult to find one person who has experience in the different facets of the position.
He said he would like to hire individuals to specialize in each segment of the job description as part-time employees for the time being.
At the end of the year, he would look at placing one person in a full-time position.
The board gave Graner permission to hire part-time workers in the position and also approved a measure to fill a vacant art teacher position at the school.
As Graner talked about the need for these positions, board member Steven George said that the quality of education for students could not be sustained if the school cannot efficiently take on duties left over from positions previously eliminated by downsizing.
He specifically mentioned the grant-writing duties of the executive director position, which the board voted to eliminate in September.
"I think it's critical that the grant writing redevelops again," he said.
George stressed that because state budget cuts will be so much more severe in the coming year, the school has to find private funding sources through grants and other programs to offset cuts and potentially sustain the new positions that Graner hopes to add.
Graner also told the board that teachers will be able submit orders for basic school supplies that they need through an online order form with Office Depot this week.
During committee reports, board member Caroline Eddy said board attorney Tom Van Camp has advised that the board wait to make any amendments to the school's by-laws until the annual meeting, which is typically held in September.
The question of when by-laws can be amended was raised at the board's last annual meeting in October.
The board will meet again Jan. 25 for a special meeting to hear an annual audit report from Elizabeth Keel, a CPA based in Asheville. The meeting will take place at the Hampton Inn and Suites on Columbus Drive in Aberdeen at 3:30 p.m.
Contact Hannah Sharpe at email@example.com.
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