City school meal prices to increase 15 cents

By Kathy Helms-Hughes and Thomas Wilson

   Breakfast and lunch prices at Elizabethton City Schools will increase 15 cents across the board during school year 2003-2004.
   The Elizabethton Board of Education approved the hike in meal and a la carte prices during a meeting Thursday evening following recommendation by the Child Nutrition Program.
   Mary Ann Williams of the nutrition program said after the meeting that the price increase was necessary to help school nutrition workers cover the cost of health insurance.
   "We're just not generating enough revenue to cover the costs. Our health and dental insurance goes up every year, and we're just not making enough profit to cover the increases in the insurance," Williams said.
   Increased food, supply, and labor costs also have contributed to the need for a price hike. "Food prices go up every year. It's been four years since we've raised prices. I think we've done real well," she said.
   Reduced-price meal charges are set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Free/Reduced Meal Program administrators. An increase in those prices would not occur unless instructed by USDA.
   The 15-cent increase would generate an additional $21,153 in revenue annually.
   The school board also approved without further discussion an April 2003 4th Quarter budget amendment that calls for an increase in reserves and revenues of $118,459.04, and an increase in expenditures of the same amount, along with line item changes.
   The board voted to renew its pest control services contract with Safe-Way Termite & Pest Control in fiscal year 2003-2004. Safe-Way agreed to hold its prices at last year's level. Safe-Way charges $430 per month to serve the five city schools and central office. Total value of the contract is $5,160.
   The board also voted to extend its contract with Lawn and Shrubbery Maintenance Co., which provides lawn maintenance services for the school system at $1,063 per mowing. Total cost of the contract, based on 28 mowings per year, is $29,772.
   In other action, the board granted tenure to the following teachers: Elizabeth Addington, Kristi Perkins, Lisa Kind, Sheri Aubrey, Susan Carter, Mike Hooks, Bridgette Lowe, LeeAnn McClure, Brian Moore, Pam Pratt, and Susan Tinn.
   School board member Bob Berry commended Addington and Perkins for attending the meeting. "Our system is so big; we have no way of knowing who everyone is," he said. Because of the importance of granting tenure, Berry said he would at least like to meet the teachers eye to eye. He recommended that, at a future date, the board make it a policy to meet teachers in person before deciding whether to grant tenure.
   Dr. Robert Sams, chairman, said it is often difficult to determine whether the teacher seeking tenure has the support of the principal.
   "I would like to make a suggestion to principals that you make a big red check or something to show your recommendation. We have a dickens of a time trying to figure it out," he said.