As published in the Record Journal, Tuesday August 16, 2011
By Russell Blair
— The school district’s cafeterias ran an $87,818 deficit in the 2010-11 fiscal year, but school officials are hopeful that next year’s numbers will be better.
Food Service Director Sharlene Wong presented the 2010-11 budget at Monday’s Board of Education meeting, but said a price increase set to go into effect this year should help cover the deficit in the coming years.
“Year to date, this is only the second year I’ve run a deficit,” Wong said.
The price increases slated to take effect include a raise of 15 cents at all school levels. A la carte milk prices are increasing 10 cents, and kindergarten milk will go up from 20 cents to 40 cents. The increases will bring $52,000 more to the district if the meal count remains the same.
Revenue was down more than $95,000 from last year, and more than $350,000 short of what the cafeterias were expected to earn. Last year, they ran a deficit of $16,484. Wong said that a decrease in revenue coupled with increasing food costs and personnel expenses led to the deficit.
“Beef prices are rising due to droughts down in Texas,” Wong said. Product costs increased to 42 percent of revenue, up from 40 percent a year ago. “I see that trend continuing into the next year,” Wong said.
She added that pension contributions also increased this year.
Wong said that more students have been applying for free or reduced-price lunch — up to 11 percent of the school district, compared to between 3 and 4 percent several years back.
School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said that the district is looking for other ways to increase cafeteria revenue. Ideas being discussed include having the cafeteria cater for classroom celebrations and providing the opportunity for students on field trips to purchase lunches from the district.
Menzo also updated the board on the project to replace the bleachers at Lyman Hall’s Fitzgerald Field. Demolition equipment was brought to the field Monday, and Menzo said the bleachers should be brought down within two weeks. Because permanent bleachers won’t be in place by the time the fall athletic season starts, the district will be placing temporary bleachers at the site.
The football team’s first game against Wilby High School — originally scheduled to be played at home — has been moved to the Waterbury school. Menzo said that talks to move the game were started by building-level administrators before the plan for the temporary bleachers was in place.
“The Wilby game will be kept at Wilby,” Menzo said. “They have a first-year coach who is looking forward to having his first game at his school.” Menzo added that the team was only slated to have five home games this season, and that the Wilby game — which was added on — would have been the sixth.
“It’s nice to have that extra home game for revenue and school spirit, but our schedule was set for five games,” he said.
In other business, Moran Middle School hired a new health teacher and a new Spanish and French language teacher.