The Pen Argyl School Board heard presentations from two vendors and discussed various pieces of their 2013-2014 budget at their meeting Tuesday night.
The first presentation came from the Colonial Intermediate program as they explained their general operating budget. The program is not requesting any increase in the mandated payment from Pen Argyl. Colonial Intermediate administers 45 budgets from various school boards and each payment reflects the quantity of students that district serves. The program has developed a revenue offset account to handle the increase in their health care costs and the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System obligations. They are also in the process of salary negotiations, but their proposed budget reflects no increase in wages.
The other presentation came from Chartwell Food Services, the company that provides Pen Argyl's school meals. Before looking to the coming budget, a the regional manager of the food service explained short comings in the current year. Due to new federal menu regulations for schools enrolled in the National School Lunch Program, food providers had to cut back on the calorie total for meals as well as increasing whole grains and proteins in their meals. Chartwell believes this caused the drop in sales, particularly at the high school level. They met with high school students to see what meals that really wanted to see back on the menu, and Chartwell took these suggestions along with a federal reduction in standards in December to rework the menu again. Beginning in January, they began to turn a profit on school lunches.
Moving forward, Chartwell presented three plans to the board for approval going into the 2013-2014 school year. The first plan included a satellite program and no increase in the school lunch price. The second included no satellite program and a ten cent increase in lunches. The last plan included no satellite and a 20 cent increase. Regardless of satellite program, all three plans included a ten cent increase in the price of breakfast. Chartwell strongly recommended the first plan and board members, on the whole, agreed.
The board questioned whether the drop in sales was seen nationally and Chartwell was able to confirm that it had, and was a combination of the publicity surrounding the federal regulations as well as a downturn in the economy leading for from-home lunches to be less expensive for some students. In the past, there had been discussion of moving off of the National School Lunch Program, which would free the district from the nutrition requirements, but Chartwell urged against this action, reminding the board that being part of this program grants the district a $44,000 reimbursement as well as $9,000 in other commodities.
As the spring proceeds, the Pen Argyl School Board will finalize their budget beginning on its first presentation on April 16. From there, the board will have two meetings during which to approve it in order to meet the 30 day period for public comment on the budget. They plan to have the budget entirely completed and approved by their June 25 meeting.