BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison school board members got an update on the district’s new alternate entree policy implemented last month to help curb losses associated with negative meal accounts.
FMCSD Food Service Director Tiffany Fullhart made a presentation to the board and showed good progress at reducing the negative account balances still plaguing the district’s budget.
The plan substitutes a cheese sandwich in place of the entree and that is the only substitution made in the alternative policy. Students still get their choice of fruit and vegetable and get a carton of milk. The district had written off as much as $60,000 in a year in unpaid lunch balances and the board asked Slater earlier in the year to formulate a plan to deal with the shortages.
Fullhart took over the director’s position prior to the start of the school year and went to work on reducing the deficit.
Fullhart told the board that the deficit has been cut in half since the program was implemented. On Aug. 30 the balance was $13,000 and on Sept. 20 it had been reduced to approximately $9,000. A review of the budget on Monday showed a negative balance of $6,000.
Board member Gayla Young told Fullhart that she was happy with the results of the new program.
“We’re doing this an painlessly as we can, and you’re continuing to show results and we couldn’t be happier with what you’re doing,” Young said.
Board member Dianne Hope said the parents in the district have reacted to the program and they need to be thanked as well.
“I just want to thank the families and parents of the district who have stepped up. I really appreciate the parents calling in and getting this taken care of,” she said.
Fullhart said discussion has been brought up again about the Community Eligibility Premium, which is a program the state offers to districts that grant the whole district reduced meals. Fullhart said there are hurdles that she didn’t think the district could clear, including a 40% direct certified student population. Those are students that fit into categories that would normally be approved for the reduced or free meal program.
“Considering the file I have, I don’t think we could get to the 40% threshold,” Fullhart said. “We can’t apply until April so that would give us some time to take a closer look.”
In an unrelated issue, Superintendent Erin Slater said meetings are being scheduled to update district teachers and parents on the district’s new P3 Campus reporting app, that allows students to anonymously report issues going on in the Fort Madison Middle School and High School.
Slater said she and Assistant FMHS Principal Patrick Lamb went through the program Friday to set a rollout plan for the program, which includes a brief presentation to teachers at the Oct. 18 early out.
Slater said she’s also planning on having two parent meetings that would be open to all parents in the district to let them know the specifics of the app and also to help with definitions associated with the app. Slater said using the proper definitions for bullying and harassment are a big part of helping school officials deal with the issue reported on the app. The meetings are tentatively set for Nov. 7th at the Fort Madison Middle School and Nov. 8th and the Fort Madison High School.
“This will help us know how to react to the situations,” Slater said.