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Summer lunch program will not be offered

by Annette Beard | May 17, 2023 at 3:00 a.m.

Free lunches at school will not be available this year as the Pea Ridge School District student participation in free and reduced lunches as decreased from 46% to 32%, according to assistant superintendent Kevin Ramey.

Ramey said that when the school began providing summer lunches, the district had a 46% participation in free and reduced lunches and that is now 32%..

"Over the past couple of years, the summer lunch participation has dropped," he explained, and because of low participation and the covid waivers no longer existing, the summer lunch program is no longer feasible.

"Right now, we have $32,467.61 in outstanding debt for student lunches," Ramey said. He said the ending balance for the food service is $515,126.07, but that money can not be used for the student lunch debt.

"With the rising cost of food items, labor and equipment, we would anticipate going further in the hole over the summer," he said.

"Our community may not need it (the summer lunch program) as much as it did seven or eight years ago," school superintendent Keith Martin said. "That's a good and a bad thing."

Assistant superintendent Anne Martfeld said the opening of the Blackhawk Pantry may provide the food needed by community members.

Ramey said the two new 14-passenger buses ordered should be delivered by the end of May.

"We are excited to get those buses ... they will be utilized tremendously over the summer," Ramey said

In other business, the four of five School Board members present:

Approved the purchase of 260 Dell Chromebooks and Google licenses for $74,880 and 360 Dell Chromebook cases for $7,6886.90 for a total of $82,566.90;

Approved the purchase of furniture for the quad classroom for $97,879.66 with funds from a Walton Foundation grant;

Approved the purchase and/or renewals of licenses for curriculum presented by Mrs. Dana Tabor;

Approved a resolution naming Martin as the representative to the Education Service Cooperative;

Approved adding two positions -- one pre-kindergarten licensed teachers and one pre-kindergarten instructional aide for the 2023-2024 school year;

Approved out-of-state travel for girl's basketball program to Cassville, Mo., on May 31; to Cassville, Mo., on June 14; to Pittsburg, Kan., on June 14-16, by Jr. High, Jr. Varsity and Sr. Varsity; and to Joplin, Mo., on June 20-22 by both junior and senior varsity.

After an executive session that lasted almost an hour, members of the board:

Approved resignations of Joanna Ayala, teacher, Middle School; Mark Laster, teacher, Jr. High/PRHS; Tiauana Young, teacher, Jr. High/PRHS; Laura Baker, teacher, Middle School; Savannah Carter, teacher, PRHS; Holly Blevins, counselor, PRHS; Jaci Smith, teacher, Primary; and Mindy Hanna, teacher, Intermediate.

Approved resignations of Maria Jimenez, evening custodian, Middle School; Brandon Abernathy, day custodian, Jr. High; and Carol Griffin, instructional aide, Jr. High.

Approved hiring Kyla Trammell, teacher, Primary School; Adam Jajeh, teacher, Intermediate School; James Bottit, healthcare teacher, PRHS; Alisa Branscum, nurse, Middle School; Hazen Cates, teacher, Middle School; Walker Cheevers, science t4eacher, assistant football coach; Rhonda Baker, nurse, Primary School; Vander Bowden, teacher/football coach, PRHS; Dallas Coleman, teacher/football coach, PRHS; Roberta Euday, special education teacher, Primary School; and Victoria Robertson, teacher, PRHS.

Approved hiring Adam Hand, director of technology, Technology.

Approved position changes for Payton Wright, third-grade teacher, Intermediate School; Max Hotelling, defensive coordinator, athletics; Bake Rudolph, math teacher, PRHS; Casey Ludolph, library/media specialist, Jr. High; and Jenniffer Jacobs, culinary teacher, PRHS.

Approved position change of Jesse Osborn, day custodian, Jr. High.

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