School Board approves bids for products and services for the upcoming school year

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One of the sure signs that a new school year is about to begin is the annual process by the Switzerland County School Board of approving bids for products and services.

At Monday night’s meeting, the school board approved bread bids, milk bids, fuel bids, trash collection bids, and snow removal bids.

The only item that had more than one bidder was for milk, where Trauth Dairy and Prairie Farms Dairy both sought the school’s business. Prairie Farms was the lowest bidder, and was awarded the contract for the coming year.

For snow removal, Parham Excavating was the only bidder and received the contract. Laughery Valley Co-Op was the lone bidder on fuels, including gasoline, oils, and biodiesel and was awarded the bid. Rumpke was the only bidder for the school’s trash collection and was awarded the bid; and Butternut was awarded the bid to provide bread to the schools for the coming year.

It was noted that the bread bid was lower than last year; while the snow removal bid stayed the same. Bids for fuel, trash removal, and milk all went up.

The school board also heard a proposal to the Switzerland County School Endowment Corporation for some new kitchen equipment at Switzerland County High School.

Superintendent Tracy Caddell said that when the kitchen had its annual fire inspection, it was noted that the school would need to look at its fire suppression system and range hoods with the equipment. Although the school’s kitchen does meet codes, the inspector pointed out that this was something that the school would need to consider in the coming years.

With the school’s wellness policy involving students and trying to provide healthier food choices, food service director Gayla Bullock said that she had visited a test kitchen where electric convection ovens and convection steamers were used in place of deep fryers.

“My main concern was the French fries,” Gayla Bullock said. “Because we want to make those available to the students everyday. We tasted some that were made in the convection steamer, and they were very good. With our wellness plan, I believe that this would be much healthier for students over deep frying foods.”

To replace the hoods and the fire suppression system it is estimated that the school would have a cost of about $60,000, and at some point it would also have to replace the deep fryers. Going to the convection equipment would have approximately the same cost, and would eliminate fire hazards associated with the deep fryers.

The school board voted 3-2 to approve sending the request on to the endowment corporation, with Virgil McKay, Vern Waltz, and Bill Roberts voting for it and Jim Phipps and Duane Cole voting against.

The school board also approved raising school lunches, breakfasts, and cartons of milk by five cents for the coming school year.

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In other business discussed by the Switzerland County School Board:

– The proposed handbook for support staff in the school corporation was approved.

– The school board amended a policy that it adopted earlier this month regarding the use of cell phones by bus drivers. The policy that was adopted at the July 23rd meeting stated that corporation bus drivers were forbidden from using cell phones while driving. The amendment approved Monday night covers not only corporation drivers; but contract drivers as well.

– Policy changes for the high school were approved.

Students participating in the drug testing policy will now have to sign the agreement each year; the Prom was officially adopted as a school function; students in good standing may now be able to not take a semester exam but will have to come to school and go on a field trip or participate in some other activity; students in upper grades may be able to opt for flexible scheduling, including having a study period or taking fewer classes during the day; and the science lab fees were raised to $9 per student per class per year. The old fee had been $6.

– The school corporation has a huge amount of old records and documents that continued to be stored even though they have no value. In order for those records to be destroyed, the school board must present a listing of those documents to a local commission, which will then determine if it is okay to destroy the documents in question.

If that is approved, the school board will also ask the commission to approve an update to it document policy so that such a back log will not happen in the future.

Items included on the list are forms such as sign in sheets, employee insurance applications from decades ago; and other documents that are more than 25 years old and are no longer valid.

The board approved taking the list to the commission.

– In personnel matters, a maternity leave request by Angie Todd was approved.

– David Galusha was hired as a second shift full time custodian at the high school.

– The board approved a resolution that appointed Wilma Swango as the agent to accept pension liability on behalf of the school corporation.

- Professional leave requests were approved.

- Virgil McKay of the school corporation’s internal financial review committee told the audience that the committee had been meeting and going over different policies and procedures. He noted that there aren’t many school corporations out there that have such policies in place, so that has made his committee’s work more difficult; but that it had found some procedures that the committee had found helpful.

He said that the committee hopes to continue its work and eventually present its findings to the school board for its consideration.

– Superintendent Tracy Caddell said that he again held a coffee and conversation time last week, but no one came to discuss any issues.