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SCC renews contract with food service company

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St. Croix Central students won't have to adjust to new school lunch recipes next year.

The St. Croix Central School Board unanimously voted to renew its food services management contract with Chartwells at their Monday night meeting. The Department of Public Instruction required the school to bid food service for the 2009-10 school year.

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The decision was not reached without discussion. The competing company, A'viands, submitted a bid that was about $5,000 cheaper than Chartwells, which factors out to be about two cents per meal.

However, Chartwells has been a familiar and reliable company for the 17 years the district has contracted with them.

"There's no right answer," said District Administrator David Bradley.

After a few board members expressed their struggle deciding between the two companies, board member John Hueg was first to voice a definite opinion on the matter.

"I like change but I like controlled change with a purpose," Hueg said in favor of Chartwells, citing their good service record for the nearly two decades they've served St. Croix Central schools.

Board member Kay Zwald also openly backed Chartwells.

"There's not enough difference," she said of the two-cent disparity.

Cindy Binkowski, a food service worker in the district, voiced her desire to continue with Chartwells during the prior public comment portion of the meeting. Two other food service workers were also at the meeting in support of Chartwells.

The Chartwells representative for the district told the board the district wouldn't regret their decision to stick with them.

In other news:

• Dale Zank of Trane discussed energy management services offered by Trane to school districts. Zank himself comes from a facility maintenance background.

A few months earlier, a representative from CESA 10 presented their energy management services the district could contract. Since then, the board has been looking into other potential energy management companies to contract with.

"We look at the whole package," Zank said of their services. Trane would help the district clearly define energy goals, work within the district's limitations, and help maintain, replace and upgrade equipment as needed.

"Education is very critical," Zank told the board. "People have to understand what we're doing and why we're doing it."

Trane starts by setting a three-year average benchmark. "Then we see where we can go," Zank said.

The district would keep any money it "earns" from implementing energy conserving strategies.

"It's your district. It's your school. The district retains 100 percent of the savings," Zank said. "We don't do split savings."

Trane charges a flat fee each year for their services, Zank said. He estimated SCC would have to pay about $11,500 per year.

Trane can perform the services the district currently contracts with Johnson Controls for, Zank added.

Bradley said the district currently pays Johnson Controls about $90,000 a year for their maintenance work on the schools' equipment. Looking more closely at their contract is at the top of his list, Bradley told the board.

Building and Grounds Director Greg Green said he sometimes doesn't see employees from Johnson Controls in the school district for two to three weeks at a time, depending on when they change the filters and other scheduled work.

The board asked Zank to provide them with more solid statistical information for their May meeting.

"It's of interest to me," said President Howard Kruschke.

• The Short Term Elementary Space Needs Committee has come up with a solution for the 2009-10 school year needs at the elementary school. Because of projected class sizes, an extra classroom will be needed.

The administration and board plan to hire one additional elementary teacher. Originally, administration thought they would be looking for a first grade teacher. However, Beth Lindberg, middle school family and consumer education teacher, requested to be moved to first grade. Current kindergarten teacher Angela Hooverson wants to fill the other open first grade position, which leaves the district looking for a kindergarten teacher.

Meanwhile, a special education classroom will be moved from a regular-sized classroom into a smaller room to create enough space for the additional teacher.

If enrollment stays steady, no extra sections will be needed for the following 2010-11 school year.

However, when extra rooms are needed, a few possible solutions have already been outlined by the committee. In order of implementation, the administration recommends that the board build a special education classroom in the southeast corner of the library to free up an additional regular sized classroom; move early childhood special education to an offsite location; and create a multi-age classroom where students from different grade levels would learn together.

• Bradley presented a list of proposed site and facility improvements to complete over the summer. Among the most important items were annual carpet and tile replacement, replace metal halide lights in the high school gym with fluorescent lights, install security system cameras at the middle school, replace doors and frames in the second grade wing, buy blinds for the elementary and middle schools, buy science tables for the eighth grade science room, replace a concrete slab outside the middle school wrestling room, and replace the garage door and service door on garage behind the elementary school. There was already $150,000 budgeted for these projects.

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