7/1/2019 2:42:00 PM Unit 2 rejects offer for CSE softball diamond But district wants to work with group, city to improve City Park diamonds.
Unit 2 board approves turning food service over to outside contractor
By RANDY HARRISON
Robinson Unit 2 is the latest Illinois school district to turn its food services over to a outside contractor.
The Unit 2 school board Monday approved a proposal from Opaa! Food Management, Inc. The 40-year-old, family-owned Missouri company specializes in food services for schools. It has been growing in recent years and is now in seven states. It expanded into Illinois in 2017.
Hutsonville Unit 1 hired the firm in May. It also recently added Dieterich, Jasper County and Neoga to its list of clients.
Opaa! will take over much of the menu planning and the paperwork. It will seek to provide a variety of meals created to meet all requirements and appeal to students.
The company also will use its purchasing power to buy food at a lower price than the district could.
The number of students eating school meals has been dropping for years. As a result, food services have been running more than $100,000 in the red for three or four years, Superintendent Josh Quick explained.
All cafeteria personnel will remain Unit 2 employees for now. Opaa! will, with board approval, eventually hire its own local people as existing workers leave through attrition.
In the meantime, the company will hire a local food service director to oversee Unit 2 operations.
In a related matter, the board agreed to raise cafeteria prices 5 cents across the board for the coming school year.
Robinson High School won't be getting a girls' softball diamond, but Nuttall Middle School is gaining an assistant principal for 2019-20.
Robinson Unit 2 board members Monday officially turned down the offer by the Crossroads Sporting Events Foundation to build a softball diamond behind RHS. They do, though, want to work with the group and the City of Robinson to see if improvements can be made to fields at Robinson City Park.
"At this time, we're not interested in putting a softball field on campus," board President Bill Sandiford told CSE representative Jake Baxter before adding Unit 2 is "absolutely" interested in working with the foundation.
The RHS softball and baseball teams play their home games at the city park, paying an annual lease for the use of the diamonds there. CSE, a new organization whose goal is to support school sports countywide, offered to build a softball diamond north of RHS using donations and volunteer labor.
A basic diamond with fencing and dugouts could be installed for about $20,000, Baxter said. Unit 2 could use the money now used for leasing city diamonds to help pay for maintenance. Players, parents and foundation members would lend a hand.
Supporters of the plan to build a new diamond have expressed concerns about the condition of the city diamonds, as well as the fact that players must travel across the city for games.
"I feel we're lucky to have the partnership we have with the city," board member Chad Brown said. He expressed concerns about the liability issues involved in volunteers creating a diamond on school grounds.
Dr. Michael Elliott said while the baseball team is apparently not interested in moving back to the school now, he wouldn't be surprised if that changed once a softball diamond was built. There is likely insufficient room for both at RHS.
Brown suggested forming a committee to look into helping the city improve the diamonds at the park. Amy Stone suggested the committee could meet with the foundation, the city and softball parents to determine what can be done.
"Obviously, there's common ground here," Superintendent Josh Quick said.
Also Monday, the board hired Andrew Glosser, Flora, as the new NMS assistant principal. Originally from Newton, Glosser is a fifth-grade teacher and coach. The lack of an assistant principal was considered the top priority by Unit 2 staffers.
Board members also approved a job description of Glosser's position, which will include dealing with student discipline as well as handling evaluations of Unit 2 coaches.
In other personnel matters, appointed Bob Duzan as RHS social studies department head, Tory Potts as RHS Interact sponsor, Tabitha Rice as RHS junior class co-sponsor, Beth Richardson and Kendra French as RHS freshman class co-sponsors and Amber Wellum as an NMS track coach. Cindy Schernekau was hired as an assistant cook at NMS.
Resignations were accepted from NMS special education teacher Alison Brooks, NMS girls basketball coach Chris Brooks, NMS girls basketball coach and RHS assistant girls' basketball coach Nick Brooks, RHS girls' softball coach Mark Brayfield, RHS junior class co-sponsor Andrew Daily, hearing-impaired paraprofessional Amanda Shaffer and NMS special education paraprofessional Dixie Love.
The retirement of transportation secretary Bonnie Weger was approved, effective Oct. 31. A leave of absence was approved for RHS science teacher Tara Apple, effective about Aug. 14 to Sept. 30.
Also, Ambraw Asphalt was hired to pave the north parking lot at the new transportation barn on West Main. The work should be completed next month, in time for the district to move into the facility Aug. 5.
The board also approved construction of a sidewalk in front of the RHS gymnasium. Students will use the walk to access the school's front door. Access to the school through the gym entrance will not longer be permitted for security reasons.
In financial matters, the board adopted the amended 2018-19 budget, closed and re-established revolving funds and applied for the annual State Technology Revolving Loan.
The Consolidated District Plan for grant programs was approved.
Commercial insurance policies were renewed, the athletic handbook was approved and two pre-owned 2018 buses were purchased from Midwest Transit Equipment.