Stanly County Schools sees significant price hike for food service purchases

Superintendent contract extended by one year

Photo courtesy of StanlyTV

ALBEMARLE – The Stanly County Board of Education met Tuesday, June 7 with capital project requests, new contracts and educational and food service plans on the agenda.  

The board had one capital budget request presented before them for a total of $3,343,000 for school repairs, which they approved. 

“Mr. Todd Bowers presented us with the capital budget request for repairs that we have for our schools for this coming year in the amount of $3,343,000,” said board member Dr. Rufus Lefler. “This is for roofing, painting, window repair, just to put some band-aids on our buildings that we have.” 

The board then approved a one-year extension to Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis’ contract with a new end date of June 30, 2026 as well as a Deputy Associate Superintendent’s contract for Dr. Amy Blake-Lewis. 

The board also approved the annual Career and Technical Education plan for Stanly County Schools. 

“This is something that we have to complete annually, but part of this plan is that every two years, we are required to complete a comprehensive needs assessment and this was the year of the comprehensive needs assessment,” said Director of CTE, Mandy Melton. “So we gathered data through a variety of channels: teacher advisories, business advisories, teacher externships, stakeholder surveys, student surveys, our career development and course planning projects and through that data gathering process, made decisions on how to address the data performance indicators that are outlined by the state.”  

The board then approved a request for the renewal of food contracts with Gordon Food Service. 

“The renewal contract went up to $2,024,062.26 for just our food,” said Director of Child Nutrition Makayla Mabry. “Our supplies went up to $129,655.15. For bid purposes, we had to go out for a bid for produce, milk and chemicals. For produce, we had Arnate, we generally go with them anyway, but they did not decline our bid this time. The bid for them is $119,392.50. For milk, we went out for bids and Stanly Dairy did not decline. The bid is for $297,520. For chemicals, we are with Alcoe again and the bid for them is $30,865.70.” 

The cost for both food and supplies saw an increase of $800,000 from the previous year and the hope is that while some of that cost will be absorbed through the reimbursements they’d usually get from the federal government, the return of supplemental food sales should help offset it as well, according to Mabry. 

Chief Finance Officer, Terry Dudney, presented a plan to extend the Child Nutrition CEP to 14 schools. 

“CEP, for those that don’t know what that stands for, is community eligibility provision that was put into place in 2014 to where school systems could opt in to that if a school meets the criteria based on direct certification, we could offer to all kids to eat free at our schools,” Dudney said. 

Stanly County Schools currently has four schools participating in CEP – East Albemarle Elementary School, Albemarle Middle School, Central Elementary School and Stanly Academy – and Dudney’s plan would be to extend the program to every elementary school in Stanly County as well as Albemarle High School for four years, until 2025-26. 

“This current year, our amount [of supplement in addition to CEP reimbursement] was around $13,000 to put in the budget for child nutrition support,” Dudney said. “What I’m presenting to you all tonight is in order for us to have these four schools in the CEP and to be able to offer it to more students in Stanly County to eat free and be able to increase our revenue source. Our local funds would be somewhere around $19,000 that we would have to set aside.” 

The board gave an update on their proposed budget for the 2022-23 school year after it was presented to the Stanly County Board of Commissioners. 

“The Commissioner recommended budget has come in about $1.3 million less than what we requested,” said board member Dustin Lisk. “What we requested of those additional funds were about $600,000 to meet the State’s unfunded mandate to take certain classified employees from $13 an hour to $15 an hour. The remainder was to take our teacher supplements from roughly 5% to 6%. We’ve been in deep conversations with commissioners. I think Dr. Dennis has done a great job and he and Mr. Terry Dudney are fighting very hard for Stanly County Schools employees. I do believe the commissioners are taking this very seriously and looking for ways to help us.” 

Finally, to address safety concerns, the board has taken some preliminary steps towards improving the overall safety of their schools, and according to members of the board, more will be on the way. 

“We have a Safe Schools grant for $52,000 and cameras have been ordered this week and starting next week, throughout our county, they will be replacing any that have had any kind of damage or issues and adding additional cameras at the ones that have requested ones,” said board member Carla Poplin. “We have a graduation safety plan in place and we are also working on a grant for some additional campus security and as soon as the SRO grant becomes available, we plan to apply for as many positions as possible.” 

The Stanly County Board of Education will next meet August 2.