The anticipated savings would be lost if there were a significant reduction in the number of students choosing to buy and eat the school lunches. There's some complex relationships between all of these numbers, but that's how it works out. Economies of scale are lost when sales drop.
Experience has shown that sales go down when the meals are cooked centrally and delivered to the schools and sales go up when the meals are cooked at the school. The students also say that the meals cooked on premises are tastier and more wholesome.
The issue was one of great contention with the Food Service workers because they would lose a lot of hours with the change. Also, since their jobs and their pay are linked to the number of meals served, they had even more on the line.
We should have a full and unbiased report on the outcomes realized by the change. I'm not holding my breath. The Board is highly unlikely to ask for it and the staff is highly unlikely to produce it without a Board request.
Now comes another lunch issue: time.
It has recently been reported that the bell schedule at STEM will allow for only one thirty minute lunch period for the whole school. The newly renovated lunchroom at Cleveland, "The Commons", has about 100 seats. The standing capacity (by Fire Code) is about 200. If the District thinks that 700 students at STEM can all get a meal and a place to eat in thirty minutes, I'd like to know how they reckon that.
According to Board Policy H61.01:
Meal times should be scheduled so that dining areas have the capacity to seat all students who wish to eat there comfortably. Students should have enough time to relax, eat, and socialize without the distraction of competing activities.
the policy also says:
Meal periods shall be long enough for students to eat and socialize – a minimum of 10 minutes are provided to eat breakfast and 20 minutes to eat lunch with additional time as appropriate for standing in line;
Let me advise folks who aren't familiar with the area, that there are NO close by places for STEM students to get meals. There is no shopping area near Cleveland. There are no fast food restaurants. There's not even a convenience store or gas station food mart. Nothing. The closest place to get food is McPherson's produce stand, about a half mile to the north and too far for students to go on a short lunch break. Students have told me that there is no time to get to Georgetown and back, let alone time to buy and consume any food available from there.
Cleveland students either bring a lunch, buy a school lunch, or skip lunch. Those are the only choices. There's no way that thirty minutes is nearly enough time and there is no way that "The Commons" has enough space, for all of these students to eat.
Cleveland, with an enrollment of 682, had two lunch periods. STEM, in the same building, with an anticipated enrollment of 900, will have only one.
The State Auditor found that the School Board was failing in their duty to enforce policy and failing in their duty to oversee the superintendent. This will be another example of their failure, hers, the education director's, and STEM.