B y Jaime Thomas
For the fourth consecutive month this year the Granville cafeteria suffered a loss in April.
District Business Manager Cathy Somich told the board of education the schools have lost $39,000 so far this year during a meeting Monday night.
“Everyone is in the same pinch as we are; some are a lot worse. Our enrollment is lower than last year,” Somich said. She asked Cafeteria Manager Joanne Warner and other cafeteria staff to attend the meeting and talk about the issue.
Half of the grains the cafeteria serves now have to be whole grains to keep in compliance with new state regulations. Warner said this, in combination with a poor economy and less students than before, is affecting the school’s food business.
“We don’t have the kids, and they don’t have the money. I’m overstaffed—years ago we needed it; now we don’t,” she said.
“They do not like wheat—they don’t. The other day I heard, ‘What’s up with the wheat?’”
Mark Bessen, district superintendent, has received similar feedback.
“One of the things that’s really shocking is the requirement to use wheat flour for things like pizza. Unfortunately we’re not selling the pizza now, because they’re not liking it, and they’re not buying it,” Bessen said. And Warner and other kitchen staff said such foods as pizza have always been popular, but are no longer selling. They said they are asking the students what they want to eat and are trying to prepare all types of dishes while staying within mandates, but to no avail.
Warner said she has been in discussion with other districts to see if they are experiencing similar problems.
“We’re all in the same boat. They’re losing more money than I am, but I’m not used to losing any,” she said. During the discussion, board member Eric Scribner asked Dan Truso, a student, FFA leader and entrepreneur, if he is familiar with this problem.
“Traveling to schools across New York, a lot of schools are moving away from in-school programs to outside businesses,” Truso said about the state’s cafeterias. He said the problem needs to be addressed at a deeper level.
“We can’t start this in the high school cafeteria; it does really need to start a lot lower. The classroom education component and physical education component are key to educate not only our students but the public,” he said.
Board member Suzanne McEachron agreed.
“Let’s start at a lower level, educating them about good nutrition,” she said, and Somich said the school is working on that with elementary students and grants.
Also during the meeting, the district recognized several students and their teachers for various accomplishments. Kevin Ely said it was a privilege to bring Philip Hicks, Kassie O’Brien-Ambrosi and Emily Campbell to Youth Lobbying Day in Albany, and that they had “good, pertinent questions for Tony Jordan and Betty Little.”
And Truso was the only high school junior to be named as a future business leader for the Albany Business Review’s 40 Under Forty.
Joshua Scribner was named as a Section II Hall of Fame National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete.
“Every year Section II honors scholar athletes. Each class has one overall winner; we’re really proud of him,” his coach, Mario Torres, said.
Brianna Beecher, meanwhile, had a photograph published in the Talent Unlimited Literary Arts Journal.
“It’s not easy to get your artwork in. It’s a very high level of recognition within northern New York,” Bessen said.
At the end of Monday’s meeting, the school board appointed Phillip Clark as a four-hour bus driver. Board members also approved the resignation of math teacher Daniel Shepard at the end of this school year.
The board also appointed a number of fall coaches.
Lance Jordan and Tom Scott will coach cross country, and Mark Valentine will coach golf. The field hockey varsity coach will be Jessica Sheldon, and Katie Barber, Cathy Kilby and Carla Prehoda will coach the sport as well.
Mario Torres will coach the football team assisted by Aaron Torres, and Walter West, Ray West, Greg Bennett and John Winch will coach, too.
Dan Brayton and Jay Condon will coach boys soccer, and Kate Becker and Lee Ann Bernard will coach volleyball. The cheerleading advisor will be Lisa Roberts.
The next board of education meeting will take place on Monday, June 3 at 7 p.m.