Board renews food service contract; adopts curriculum

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Students in the Hope Public Schools are warming to changes in daily food services initiated by contractor Aramark Food Services; but, finding a happy medium will require more time, the HPS Board learned Monday.
Despite some bumps in the process in this first year of Aramark’s contract to operate food services for the district, the board agreed to extend the company’s contract for the 2019-2020 school year.
Courtney Nutt, Aramark’s operations director, said the first year is a learning period for both employees and students, but that the company remains open to suggestions, particularly regarding menu selection.
That was a key issue for Zone 5 Representative Linda Haynes, who said concerns were expressed to her about Aramark following through on menu expansions.
Nutt emphasized that Aramark is bound by federal and corporate nutritional guidelines as it develops menus and can’t always roll them out as quickly as students might anticipate. She said menus which are provided are rotated on a five-week cycle through the school year, which might explain some of the differences.
Which brought District 8 Representative David “Bubba” Powers to quip that he had conducted a “highly scientific poll of one” to ask his 11-year old daughter what she thought about the food service at her campus.
“I asked her, ‘How do you like the food?’” Powers said. “She said, ‘Good.’”
That, he said, was sufficient for him.
Aramark, a division of Aramark Corp. of Philadelphia, Pa., provides food services operations for Prescott, Nashville, Hot Springs Lakeside, and Hot Springs school districts, among others, in Arkansas.
Also Monday, the board adopted a science curriculum for four of the five main campuses of the district that is different from the current science offering.
District School Improvement Specialist Carla Narlesky said the curriculum published by HoughtonMifflin won the approval of teachers at Clinton Primary School, Beryl Henry Elementary School, Yerger Middle School and Hope Academy of Public Service, based upon a survey of faculties. Narlesky said Hope High School faculty has yet to make a final recommendation on a science curriculum.
The adoption of the grades 3-8 curriculum Monday will be valid for six years, she said; but, it will not disrupt what students have already learned because the HM curriculum must follow state standards.
In other matters Monday, the board:
• Renewed student insurance coverage through the Dwight Jones Insurance agency at an annual premium of $31,150 for two years.
• Approved facilities usage requests for Yerger Middle School gymnasium for youth basketball, and Hammons Stadium for four home games and a possible championship game by the Arkansas Silverbacks semi-professional football team.
• Adopted personnel recommendations from district administration.
• Learned that the Hope Bands Program will host an invitational marching contest Oct. 12, and will host the Arkansas State Band and Orchestra Association marching contest Oct. 22, as well as hosting an invitational concert contest and the ASBOA spring concert contest in 2020.
• Heard a report concerning an Arkansas Department of Education advisory that the district conduct a self-study of expulsion rates among students with disabilities and make recommendations concerning district policies.
• Learned of an ADE audit finding, since corrected, regarding the purchase of musical instruments.
• Learned that the school-based health clinic at Hope High School may be ready for occupancy as early as June rather than August.

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