In the past year, the Sag Harbor School District’s lunch program dipped into red ink, according to district business manager Len Bernard. But, says Bernard, the cafeteria’s books will be brought into the black this year by raising food prices and utilizing better tracking and accounting systems.
Over the course of the 2008-2009 school year, the overall cost of serving breakfast and lunch was around $95,300 with a $6,700 deficit. This debt, contended Bernard to the board back in February, included the purchase of a new cash register, software and trays, which will lead to later efficiencies. If these items were taken off the balance sheet, said Bernard, then the program would have been fiscally solvent last year.
Beginning in the fall, the price for a complete lunch will be $3.75 for students and $5.50 plus tax for staff. Last year, student’s lunch was $3.50. Breakfast will cost $2, raised from the current price of $1, and an additional 50 cents will be added to the price of a la carte items.
The program’s budget for the coming school year includes raises for cafeteria staff and a four percent increase for the cost of food.
By utilizing a point of sale (POS) system, students will be able to pay with cards, which can be swiped at the register. However, warned Bernard, outstanding balances are capped at $25 and parents will receive a bill at the end of each month.
In addition to streamlining the payment process, Bernard plans to install additional vending machines and provide more bag lunches to teachers and traveling athletes as a way to generate revenue, although these monies weren’t included in the 2009-2010 projections.
Fact Finder’s Report
Last week, fact finder Elliott Shriftman released his report regarding contract negotiations between district teachers and the school board. At the business meeting on Monday, members of the board briefly discussed their initial rejection of the report based on the grounds that it didn’t address all of the issues at hand. The board, however, will meet again in executive session on Thursday to once again discuss the contract negotiations and are expected to bring the teachers back to the table on September 2.
“We were hopeful the recommendations would have indicated a path towards a mutual satisfying settlement. [The report] didn’t make recommendations on all issues,” reported school superintendent Dr. John Gratto. “We are where we were before.”
However, Parent Teacher Association member Chris Tice felt it would be a waste for the school to abandon the findings and wondered if the district had any recourse to have Shriftman elaborate on the other issues missing from the report.
Shriftman was hired by the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) not the district. Although the district could hire Shriftman as a mediator, board president Walter Wilcoxen seemed reluctant to do this, but said Shriftman had mentioned an interest in doing some pro bono work for the district.
Wilcoxen was also perplexed by the fact that Shriftman was given only three days to complete his research and write the report. Jim Kinnier, a teacher and negotiator for the Teacher’s Association of Sag Harbor, countered that he knew in advance the fact finder had three days to finish his work.
Former teacher and Sag Harbor school board member, Walter Tice said in his experience fact finder reports often leave out certain auxiliary issues to instead focus on the “controversial issues that are dividing the parties.”
— The board announced it will not go forward with an energy efficiency contract, and instead will combine several items from this contract with the bond resolution for other facility repairs and renovations. According to Dr. Gratto, the board will know the final bond amount by September 14.
— Although he doesn’t have specific numbers, Dr. Gratto reported enrollment will be up by around 30 students in both the elementary school and the middle and high school in the fall.
— Business manager Len Bernard said three bus routes, Ross School elementary and high school and Pierson High School, will be combined this fall using the bus recently purchased by the district. Bernard reported that the measure would save the district around $100,000.