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City school lunches staying at same price next year

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

New Castle families have to budget for certain back-to-school necessities every fall, whether it’s new clothes, band equipment fees or increased textbook costs.

However, Trojans won’t have to dig deeper for lunch money next year. 

The New Castle School Board approved a recommendation Monday from New Castle Food Service Director Dee Orick to keep lunch prices at their current level.

“In past years, we’ve been forced (by the federal government) to raise prices to meet the regulations,” Orick said.

Orick explained that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) pays for free or reduced lunches. Any school system that receives free/reduced lunch money has to raise the cost of full-priced meals to match whatever the USDA is paying.

New Castle applied for and received a USDA waiver that will allow them to keep the 2017-2018 school year lunch prices going into the next year, Orick said.

“Because we are a department that is running efficiently, we were allowed to hold our prices steady,” Orick told the school board.

Another factor helping keep New Castle lunch prices stable is the great deal that Orick was able to get on milk and other dairy products.

The contract Orick present to school board members Monday locked in lower milk prices that were nearly 30 percent lower than last year.

“We went in together with some schools that are in the service center,” Orick said. “We went in as a group, so we got our milk much cheaper with purchasing such a huge volume. So, we’ll see an extensive savings next year.”

Orick also told the school board that the 2018 New Castle summer meal program has been very successful since starting up last week. Even children from other school communities are getting meals while they are visiting New Castle, she said.

Monday was the night for the New Castle School Board to formally send off corporation retirees, as well.

Fifteen certified staff members and five non-certified staff members retired this school year.

Stephanie DeLoughery had 37 years, Kenon Gray had a total of 39 years, John Griffith had 45 years teaching, Karen Hayden had 38.5 years and Barbara Hilton had 17.5 years total.

Mary Kalk was a teacher for 24.5 years, Bret Laudig had 35 years total, Chris Morris had 43 years, Kevin Pasman had a total of 34 years and Rex Peckinpaugh had 40 years.

Tony Personett educated children for a total of 37 years, William “Bo” Pheffer had 41.5 years, Lou Nell Richardson taught for 34 years, Susan Smith had 37 years and Gregory Wood had 27.

Kathy Boles is retiring after 21 years, Ned Giddings dedicated 18 years to New Castle schools, Sheila Sergeant had 16 years, John Stockton finished 35 years and Diana Weaver served for 16 years.

“Thank you all,” New Castle School Board President Jamey Marcum said. “We’re gonna miss you.”

In other news, the New Castle School Board heard a presentation about the Project-Based Learning (PBL) program at Parker Elementary School.

Parker Principal Lora Wilson explained that PBL units are designed to teach elementary students problem-solving techniques while also introducing them to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Parker is on a two-year plan to become a STEM-certified school.

Parker Data Coach Ramona Hacker created a by-grade bank of STEM lessons that she plans to share with other New Castle schools later this summer. 

Wilson said the difference between the PBL model and just having STEM classes is that PBLs encourage community connections, Wilson said.

One key example of these types of connections was when New Castle Technology Director Dustin Chew was fixing a projector and the classroom teacher asked him to explain the tech and mechanics that actually made the projector work.

Superintendent Matt Shoemaker announced Monday that New Castle Community School Corporation is starting its first preschool class late next fall. Shoemaker said that once the pre-kindergarten program is proven to be self-sustaining, NCCSC may qualify for grant money to grow the program.

Shoemaker also announced Monday that all New Castle school buildings will start open their doors at 7 a.m. this next year so students don’t have to wait outside before school.

The next regular meeting of the New Castle School Board is at 7 p.m. July 16 at the community education center, 322 Elliott Ave.