Board of Education discusses numbers from free breakfast and lunch program

By Ryan Lewis -

The Altus Public Schools Board of Education held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting at 5 p.m. Monday at the Administrative Center at 219 N. Lee.

To start the meeting, the board approved the appointment of Lee Vier to the vacant number two seat before moving on to discuss the superintendent’s reports and comments.

The first item on the superintendent’s list was the accreditation status of district and school sites for the 2017-18 school year.

“Our 2017-18 accreditation status for the district, I’m very pleased to announce that all school sites and the district have been accredited with no deficiencies for this year. It’s a good way to start the year,” Superintendent Roger Hill said. “There are a lot of compliance standards that we have to abide by and we get checked on an annual basis by an accreditation officer and I’m very pleased to announce those stats.”

“Secondly, we have received our 2017 ACT scores from the district. We’ve had more students take the ACT with the class of 2017 than we have in the past. With that being said, our average composite score has gone down from a 19 to an 18.6,” Hill said. “For comparison, the state average is 19.4. We will be studying those trends and the breakdown of those scores and see if we can put in some strategies to address the 18.6.”

Once addressed, the floor was turned over to Assistant Superintendent Roe Worbes to address the success of the recently implemented free breakfast and lunch program at the school sites.

“The CEP which is the Community Eligibility Program allows us to get the free breakfast and free lunches at four of the sites and I just want to thank you all for taking a chance and letting us do this during this first year. A look at our numbers shows that our participation for breakfast has increased from 36 percent in 2016 to 86 percent this year,” Worbes said. “For lunch, we jumped about six percent. Some alternative things we’re doing to help increase participation is having breakfast in the classroom as well as having a second-chance breakfast Bulldog breakfast where we offer breakfast between first and second period because the band students are marching starting at seven and aren’t available until nine o’clock. We started that breakfast and so far we’ve served right at 800 meals and that continues to grow daily.”

“One of the new things that we’ve started at the high school is grab-and-go lunch at the courtyard. That number has been well over 100 every,” Worbes said. “Hopefully if it stays as successful as it has been and if the projections stay the same, we’ll be able to add the junior high next year.”

The program has been an overall success for many different reasons and although there were reservations about what kind of mess could be made in the classroom, after nearly one month spent trying it out, the results have been positive.

“For the first couple of days, we had some procedural issues but we’ve heard very positive things. Mrs. [Lori] Reddin was concerned abut it with the children in the classroom but she has been very pleased with it so far,” Worbes said. “We’ve even had feedback from some parents who said their kids wouldn’t eat in the cafeteria because of the large setting but now they’re eating breakfast.”

The board moved on to accept the retirement of longtime basketball coach Janice Hardwick before also approving the architecture plans and scope of projects for the renovations at the Altus High School Auditorium, the band and music building, and the cafeteria.

Both choir director Nick Young and band director Jeff Hastings were on hand to give their thoughts about proceeding with the plans.

Hastings said the band room needed the additional space with enrollment numbers increasing while Young was happy with what he has if some adjustments could be made.

“I know the auditorium pretty well, I spend most of my nights there. One of the things I noticed was our fly system needs a little TLC right now. Also the lighting on the stage, we used some of our all-school production account to improve the lighting,” Young said. “In terms of my half of the music building, structurally I have enough room to do what I need to because unlike Jeff, my students meet throughout the day where his meet all at one time. If we can just update the floors, that’d be great.”

Hastings expressed his gratitude to the board for all of their support in helping make life easier for music students in general.

“Thank you for supporting our program and our kids. Enrollment numbers are up and I know we’ll have a chance to sit down with the architect an figure out the size but most of all, I just want to say thank you,” Hastings said.

The board voted to adjourn.

By Ryan Lewis

Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.

Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.

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