Students at El Dorado schools may have more choices for lunches next year if the State Department of Education gives its consent for a contract with a food service management company, Opaa!, which the school board approved Monday night.

Students at El Dorado schools may have more choices for lunches next year if the State Department of Education gives its consent for a contract with a food service management company, Opaa!, which the school board approved Monday night.

“We started a process it seems like an eternity ago to contract out for food service management,” said Norm Wilks, director of fiscal services.

The district sent out requests for proposal and received three responses to contract food service in the district. A committee then reviewed those proposals.

“It is our collective recommendation to you we enter into a contract with Opaa!,” Wilks said.

The district will pay a per meal price, and Opaa! will purchase all of the food that goes into the meals and provide a 21-day menu that will give students choices of meals every day that they do not have now. Opaa! also will hire a resident manager and support service for nutrition and a dietician to meet special menus.

“We think that the opportunity for our students to participate in food service will go up,” Wilks said. “The ability to comply with the state and federal rules and regulations now will be immensely easier.”

The district will still do the free and reduced lunches.

Superintendent Sue Givens said she has two former students who teach in districts where Opaa! contracts and they love the food service.

“They couldn’t say enough about it,” Givens said. “Not only are there a lot of choices, the salad bar is incredible and they actively market school lunches.”

Board Member Cathy Cooper asked what the major reasons were they decided to go with Opaa!

Board Member Bernie Spradling, who was on the committee that reviewed the proposals, said it was the menus.

“When you looked at it and read it you knew what you were going to have,” she said. “It was not too exotic that students say they’re not going to have that. To me it was something that would appeal to kids.”

Board Member Tom Storrer asked about the prices for the meals.

Wilks said all three submittals were within what they collect for food service costs for students. Opaa! was about $7,000 less than the others, but he said that was not a strong consideration. They main focus they were looking at was the menu.

The company has a Greek history.

The owner/founder worked at the University of Missouri. He worked with some Greek friends to create the menu. They decided to go with the name Opaa! for the celebration of food.

The board approved 6-0 (Deb Wheeler was absent) the contract subject to approval by the State Department of Education. Once the state gives its approval the board president will be asked to sign the contract and they plan to start the process July 1 to be ready in August.

In other business, the board:

• received an update on the strategic plan from Givens, including information on the history of awards and activities for extracurricular activities and received a summary of random drug testing for high school students, something that will now serve as a base line for the district.

• approved the student/faculty handbooks.

• approved the administrative, transportation, food service and classified handbooks.

• approved the purchase of a new bus. The district received a grant that pays up to $21,750 if they would take an old diesel bus out of service and replace it with a new one. Wilks said they had a couple of older 83-passenger activity/route busses that needed to be replaced.

“The $21,750 the state grant will pay us is way more than we will ever get on a trade-in or selling those buses,” he said. “This money is left over from some other grants that the state gave to some entities that didn’t spend all of their money.”

To get the grant, they have to go out to bid and accept a bid before the July meeting and they also have to put the old bus out of commission so it cannot be used somewhere else.

• heard about a project the district is working on with the YMCA for a turf field at the new middle school. In turn for the district providing the land, the YMCA would provide the turf and there would be shared signage.

“It would allow us to make a lot more use of our middle school field at the new site and basically gives them the opportunity to have first right on that field area for their soccer and athletic events,” Givens said.

They are narrowing down the terms of the agreement and having an attorney review it before it is brought to the board for approval. The YMCA would use the field for soccer and football.

• approved personnel and BCSEC recommendations.

• approved resolutions for non-renewal of Candy Crawford and Laura Kelley’s contract for 2013-2014.

• received a survey of other districts on conceal carry. USD 490 is in the majority on not taking any action or making consideration at this time, but in the minority that they provide school resource officers and they have access to school district school security.

• heard that Cohen-Esrey did not get their tax credits to remodel the old middle school into apartments. They will further discuss the future of the old middle school at an upcoming work session.