Free meals might be ending at Poteau schools

By KEN MILAM

POTEAU – As a consequence of policies and programs running their courses, the time of free breakfasts and lunches for all may soon come to an end at Poteau Public Schools, school board members were told Monday night.

Superintendent Don Sjoberg said the change was not an immediate concern, but he wanted board members to be aware it was coming as the Community Eligibility Plan runs out for the district. He said it was unlikely the district would meet the threshold to make free meals available to all. The system will return to pre-pandemic rules where families must apply for the free and reduced prices.

The normal cost is $3.40 per meal.

The disclosure came during a discussion and vote on a resolution applying for the e-rate program funding from Universal Administrative Company, Schools and Libraries Division. Each application goes towards things like maintaining telephone lines and optics. The district agrees to pay $25,855.73 in exchange for more than $100,000 in services.

Commencement exercises for the Class of 2022 are scheduled for 8 p.m. May 20 at the football field. In case of rain, the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center has been put on standby.

The board set 12:45 p.m. June 21 as the time and date for offering $1.8 million in general obligation building bonds for sale at the Bert Corr Administration Building. The bonds are the third installment of the $14.875 million approved by voters in 2019.

The board approved several personnel actions, including new certified staff — including former Poteau baseball coach Ronnie Sockey as the Pirates’ new basketball coach, replacing Brandon Wood.

Donald Patchin and Angela Rosa were hired in adult education-Practical Applications in Language and Computers, Shannon Stubbs for math at the Seventh-Eighth Grade Academic Center, former Poteau softball player Katie Pierce-Stubbs as English, languages and art teacher at the Seventh-Eighth Grade Center, former Heavener Lady Wolves basketball player Azure (Watkins) Hill and Misty Crandell as elementary school teachers, Shelby Johnson as a speech language pathology assistant and Tina Parsons in adult education.

The board also approved Shelley Gafford as custodian at Pansy Kidd Middle School and Liz Collins as School Evaluation Committee secretary as well as approved the resignations of Poteau teacher/football assistant coach Jamie Armstrong, teachers Abigail Hill and Macae Pipkins and PHS secretary Janette Baxter.

The board approved a deregulation request to provide flexibility in instructional scheduling at PHS, such as allowing the librarian the opportunity to teach certain classes.

The board also approved a medical exemption review process for students with chronic absences due to medical issues.

A change in board policy regarding public comments on items not on the agenda was tabled.

Currently public comments can be made at board meetings but only about items on the agenda.

The board approved a $300 stipend for site Teachers of the Year, and a $400 stipend for the district’s Teacher of the Year.

The board also approved continuing contract agreements with Precision Drug for drug screening for students, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association Employment Services to help with issues like worker’s compensation, Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center for both tele-medicine and as a business associate and Dr. Tiffany Ballard and Affiliates for professional learning communities training, which will be July 5-7.

The board approved two fundraising activities — one by the PHS Silver Steppers and the other by the seventh-eighth grade cheerleaders — to help purchase new uniforms and other supplies.


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