On agenda for Dudley-Charlton School Committee
By Becky Harvey
The monthly meeting of the Dudley-Charlton school committee was held on Wednesday, September 12, at 7 p.m. at Shepherd Hill. After a brief opening, the Citizen’s Forum commenced, at which time a Charlton Middle School dad raised issue with the newly amended dress code. At issue is the rule that dresses, skirts and shorts are to be no more than two inches above the knee. The dad had problems finding clothes to meet this rule. He also noted that when picking up his 7th grade daughter at the middle school, he counted no fewer than thirty students technically breaking the dress code rule. Committee Chairwoman, Geraldine Nowichi, commented that this was not the first time she’d heard the complaint. She agreed to add the issue to the next meeting’s agenda.
Superintendent Sean Gilrein has been informed that the municipal water line is ready for connection to the Charlton Elementary School. Despite this, he stated that the school will not be able to be connected before the summer of 2013 due to the fact that the work will require a total shut-down of the water system. “This work won’t be completed in a week,” Gilrein said. He also estimated the price at somewhere around $65-75,000. It is a “complicated, non-budgeted item in a very complicated year.” There is a concern with the independent water supply from the school’s well. At the end of August, there was a slight issue with water quality. Though not considered an emergency, the well tested positively for coliform (a bacteria) in a number of separate tests. Daily testing was performed for roughly a week, and a thorough cleaning was performed on the well. Despite the problem being adequately resolved for the time-being, Gilrein urged that this public, highly used building be upgraded in the form of being hooked to municipal water. Gilrein commented that he would be approaching the Town of Charlton with regards to the hook-up. A number of committee members chimed in that the town, not the school department, ought to be responsible for funding the connection where the school is a town-owned building.
Gilrein notified the board that the opportunity to provide flu-shots, at a fee, had arisen. Details have not been solidified, but with the approval of the members, he said he would pursue accommodating students and teachers in this way. Nowicki noted that they should not give favor to one pharmacy over another, so Gilrein will look into opportunities that would not raise questions of favoritism.
Terri Caffelle, principal at the Elementary school, briefed the committee about a presentation being made at the Charlton Middle School called “The Sensory Supportive Classroom.” The free program will be run on September 27 at 6:30pm until 9pm. The program is geared to parents and families to help deal with issues of Sensory Processing.
The issue of severe food allergies was addressed due to the rising numbers of students in the district who are affected by this problem. Gilrein proudly announced that the bus drivers will once again be trained in epipen use. In recent years, the bus companies had backed away from taking on the responsibility of training their drivers. The superintendent is extremely pleased that this has been accomplished. He further stated that he intends to include language in all future bussing contracts that include mandatory training of all bus drivers.
The triple-E and West Nile virus thread was discussed briefly. As there are no night football games in currently affected areas, there are no current cancellations. This would of course change, should the areas become dangerous. As it stood at the time of the meeting, there was no foreseeable danger.
Director of food services, Andy Panayiotou, attended the meeting to discuss the new changes to the menus and available foods to students and the school’s participation in the subsidized food program. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has made changes necessary. He began by stating that this new law was a bipartisan decision that makes lots of sense. School meals impact millions of students every day. The law takes aim at obesity. The new regulations require that the schools must serve, not offer, but actually serve vegetables, fruits, a starch, grains and proteins at every meal.
Panayiotou commented on the fact that many adults have noticed wasted food that the students are throwing away. There is no way to get around that, as the food service people must, by law, put each on the plate of a student who purchases a meal through the schools. Selectman Raymond Chalk commented on a visit to one of the school cafeterias last week. He claimed that out of the first six students to the trash bucket, he saw a number of apples, entire salads and servings of veggies, as well as whole, untouched pieces of whole wheat bread being scraped into the trash. He said that the only food noticeably eaten was the chicken patties. The waste was shocking.
William Trafone, the finance director, spoke to the high cost of food versus the low price that is charged. Meeting the new regulations seems to be quite a challenge to the schools, finding the balance between cost, good tasting food and the ability to get students to eat it. Elaine Rabbit suggested trying to educate the parent-base on this new federal regulation. Though the “cart may have been put before the cart” with regards to this issue, we need to try and make the best of it. The cost of this new program is estimated to cost over 6.8 million dollars.
Gilrein appeared disgusted by the fallout of this new regulation. “If I were a local farmer, I’d be heartbroken seeing the fruits of my hard labor being thrown in the garbage…. Common sense has to prevail.” His stance will be to work with the authorities but to make sure that what the schools do aren’t hurting the children in the long run. Nowicki agreed in showing her frustration. The regulations don’t seem to make sense and may even be counter-productive. “I could see this backfiring and causing a rise in obesity.”
- Friday, 14 September 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News