For the second year in a row, the Buckeye Valley school board on Tuesday night voted to opt out of a state program that would require the district to track how fat its students are.
Superintendent Jamie Grube recommended the district exercise its ability to opt out of the program, called the Healthy Choices for Healthy Children Act, passed by the Ohio legislature in June 2010 with bipartisan support.
Besides tracking students’ aggregate body max indices over time, the program includes increased nutrition standards for public school meals and requires schools to provide healthy beverage options for students as well as 30 minutes of physical education a day.
“It’s not that we’re against having healthy students or wellness or anything like that. This is just another unfunded mandate,” Grube said. The district would have to hire another staff member to track the data, which Grube said is of questionable value anyway.
Grube gave a similar rationale when he made the same recommendation last year.
School board member Rod Boester asked if the district could ask the Delaware General Health District to assume any responsibilities for the program — school administrators said no.
In other business, the school board approved about $119,000 worth of change orders for the ongoing renovations at Buckeye Valley High School. Including the school board’s decision last summer to spend $520,000 in technology upgrades to the high school, the change orders bring the project’s total to date cost to $13.9 million, with $600,000 remaining in the project’s contingency fund.
Project architects have said they expect that much if not all of the contingency fund, which was built into the project’s initial price tag to absorb unexpected expenses, will be spent by the time the project is completed later this year.
The project is still under the $16 million voters in November 2008 approved to allow the school district to borrow to pay for renovations at the high school. School board members have just less than $1.5 million in leftover money to spend as they see fit after construction bids came in significantly under budget. The money must be spent on permanent improvements for the district — construction, school buses, etc.— as opposed to operating costs like salaries.
The school board on Tuesday also approved a $21.1 million general fund budget for the 2011/2012 school year. That’s slightly lower than the $21.3 million budget for last school year.
The 2011/2012 budget includes $350,000 in cuts in staffing achieved through layoffs and attrition — employees who retired but were not replaced. However, the savings were partially offset by the loss of federal stimulus money that paid school administrator salaries, costs which are now covered by the general fund, said district treasurer Sandra Griscom.