Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Steamboat Springs In a decision met with strong approval from parents and staff, the Steamboat Springs School Board decided Monday not to move lunch at Strawberry Park Elementary School to the building's arcade area.
Instead, the school's kitchen will remain on the east side of the building, and students will continue to eat lunch in the gymnasium - at least in the short term.
Board members said they were concerned moving the school's kitchen to the center of the building would limit facil-ity use in the future. Instead, board members agreed, the school needs a long-term plan that would include a new kitchen facility and a dedicated cafeteria space.
"I think moving the kitchen is not a good idea because of where it will be located," board member John DeVincentis said. "To move that kitchen to the center of that building, you are really limiting yourself on the future of where things are going to be. I am very concerned with us just throwing money around without a plan. The problem is we have a gym that's a multi-purpose room."
Strawberry Park Principal Mark MacHale said the school needs to free up the gymnasium for physical education instead of spending several hours using it for lunch and then cleaning the carpet, but he supported the board delaying the move of lunch to explore the possibility of expanding the kitchen in its current location and setting aside space for a cafeteria.
"We need a new kitchen as much as we need anything else," MacHale said.
DeVincentis proposed the board take several months to look for alternative plans for a new cafeteria and expanded kitchen and explore the possibility of the Education Fund Board helping pay for those projects.
His motion passed unanimously.
Teresa Wise, the district's director of nutrition services, painted a clear picture for board mem-bers regarding the limitations of Strawberry Park's current lunch facilities. She would like to offer breakfast at the elementary schools, but she said the small kitchens at both elementary schools don't allow it.
Soda Creek Ele-mentary School's kitchen issues will be addressed during construction of a replacement school.
"If Strawberry Park doesn't get a new kitchen, Soda Creek will have a far superior product," Wise said. "You can never underestimate the benefits of a new kitchen."
The School Board's decision was in tune with the expressed desire of many Strawberry Park parents.
Parents were concerned moving lunch to the arcade disrupted the intended use of the arcade space, limited indoor recess and was a poor use of taxpayer dollars, among other things.
"I strongly feel that moving the lunch service to the atrium is extremely short-sighted," parent Bethany Aurin said.
The future of the school's district main kitchen at the George P. Sauer Human Services Center also surfaced during Monday's discussion. Currently, nutrition services staff prepare food at the district kitchen on Seventh Street and then transport it to the two elementary schools and the middle school.
Board members agreed having a full-service kitchen at each school may be a more valuable situation in the years ahead, especially with regard to quality of product.
- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org