Monday, March 20, 2006

Ashland School District No. 5, Jackson County, Oregon – The Board of Directors met in a work session on March 20, 2006, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ashland Middle School Library. Present were:


Heidi Parker                 )           Chair


Ruth Alexander )

Amy Amrhein               )           Board Members

Mat Marr                     )

Amy Patton                  )


Juli Di Chiro, Superintendent

Pamela Lucas, Business Manager

Community Members

Media Representative

Anita Charters, Recording Secretary



I.        Call to Order


            The meeting was called to order at 7:51 p.m. by Chair Parker.


II.     Roll Check


       All members were present.


III.   Public Input on Sodexho Agreement


Chair Parker explained that the purpose of this work session is to receive input regarding the Sodexho food service agreement and the Jackson County grounds maintenance agreement.


Pauline Black would like to reduce the number of days that pizza is available. She said that Sodexho has labor problems internationally. She doesn’t feel good about Ashland’s association with them.


            Site Council Reports:

Principal Juanita Fagan and parent representative Jim Teece represented the Bellview site council. 56 parents (representing 71 students, or 25% of the student body) responded to an online survey that concluded in mid-February. Results of the survey were:


·        Cafeteria food had improved over last year;

·        Students are trying new foods;

·        Salad bar is good;

·        Sodexho meets parents’ needs;

·        More students are eating hot lunch this year (160-180 per day), compared to five years ago when 75-80 lunches were served per day;

·        More students are eating breakfast; and

·        Sodexho is easy to work with, responsive to complaints and provides good service.


Principal Susan Hollandsworth represented the Helman site council. Helman used Bellview’s survey two separate times. Sixty surveys were returned representing 72 children. Results of the surveys were:


·        Range of breakfasts served daily is 35-50;

·        Range of lunches served daily is 142-187;

·        Would like every entrée choice to be a healthy choice, not just one healthy choice per day;

·        Strongly urge Sodexho to purchase local products; and

·        Helman site council would like assurances for maintaining and improving the nutritional value of the food offered in the cafeteria.


Principal Michelle Zundel and parents Wendy Conner and Amy Cuddy represented the Walker site council. The site council met with Sodexho representatives for a parent forum in December to gather input on the food service program. Comments from the Walker community include:


·        There is a decline in student participation this year;

·        Sodexho has been extremely responsive to concerns, such as reducing packaging, reducing the number of days that pizza is offered, improving menu items, and trying to increase the health and wellness of students;

·        Strengths include daily salad bar, decreasing workload at district office, new ideas about presentation, varied menu items, and use of outside staff to support the process;

·        Would like to see more flexibility in choices;

·        The food is not as nutritious as it was last year; and

·        Sodexho has been open to analyzing proposed recipes.


Concerns include:

·        Student participation has not returned to last year’s levels;

·        Kitchens can no longer keep eggs in shells on site for recipes or hardboiled eggs; they now receive pre-boiled eggs without shells that do not taste as good;

·        Menus use fewer home-cooked recipes and rely on more prepackaged, processed items;

·        USDA commodities are the backbone of the program, sometimes at the expense of taste and quality, particularly the “meat” items;

·        Limited use of leftovers increases food waste; and

·        Use of many highly processed ingredients and prepackaged foods.



·        Improve the quality of the menu items;

·        Strike a better balance among competing variables, such as efficiency, cost, nutrition, quality and taste;

·        Create a system across the District for a review of food services so that the same information is gathered at each site; and

·        Continue negotiations with local vendors to provide bagels and other products for our school cafeterias.


Principal Dale Rooklyn represented the Ashland Middle School site council. After communicating with students, parents and staff, he reported that Sodexho is providing a better program than what has been offered in the past. This is a summary of the comments:


·        When asked, “Is this year’s lunch program better, the same, or worse than last year’s?” students agreed that it was better;

·        One parent out of twenty responded to an email, saying that their child thought the food is mostly better than last year;

·        Four staff members emailed positive comments; and

·        The cafeteria manager was very pleased with the program, stating that she has had excellent direction, support and more success this year than ever before (defined as the number of meals served).


He also reported that there is an increase of approximately 100 meals served per day over last year. He encouraged the board to renew Sodexho’s contract.


Principal Jeff Schlecht and student Molly McGuire represented the Ashland High School site council. There was no formal survey. Both leadership classes were asked to talk to their friends about the cafeteria, and they reported back seven weeks later. There were three categories in their assessment:


Areas exceeding standards:

·        The price is an incredible value for the amount of food, especially the salad bar;

·        The cafeteria is very clean;

·        There is no stigma for free and reduced lunch students;

·        The Sodexho staff is friendly with excellent interpersonal skills;

·        The student store is open between periods 1 and 2, and students appreciate the accessibility and variety; and

·        The Sodexho staff listens to concerns and desires to be part of a successful team.


Areas meeting standards:

·        Appearance is nice;

·        Foods are fresh and presentation is nice;

·        Space utilization is good;

·        Nutritional standards are good and are an improvement over previous years; and

·        Overall food quality is good.


Areas needing improvement:

·        Would like a new ‘daily’ entrée and more variety;

·        Would like ala carte service in upstairs commons as an alternate area to get food and to reduce crowding in the main cafeteria;

·        Would like more healthy choices from the student store;

·        Need better signage and promotion of entrées; and

·        Students want more vegetarian choices.


Jeff Ashmun from Sodexho cited the following changes/improvements this year:


·        Started service at Willow Wind;

·        Packaging has been reduced;

·        There are fewer processed foods;

·        More items are made from ‘scratch’;

·        Organic foods are used when affordable;

·        Increase in use of whole grains;

·        Use local vendors when possible, such as Little Shop of Bagels and possibly Fresh Express; and

·        Changing milk vendor to Umpqua Dairy.


He believes Sodexho is trying to be responsive to Walker’s concerns and knows that it will take a while before people realize the changes that have been made. He does not anticipate an increase in meal prices for the 2006-2007 contract proposal.


Director Marr thinks that the district should annually reassess their contract with Sodexho. He values local management and resources and would like to see other proposals for food service.


There was public input from one parent who would like to research an edible school-type program modeled after one in Berkeley, California. Chair Parker thought it would be interesting to publish a Request for Proposal in the hope that a local person would respond. Superintendent Di Chiro thinks this type of program would be compatible with Sodexho’s service.


IV.  Public Input on Grounds Maintenance


The district has received proposals from Jackson County and the City of Ashland Parks Department to provide grounds and field maintenance. The following comments were made:


·        Proposals from both entities include some things that are paid out of levy funds;

·        The difference in the contract amounts would fund a teacher (the County’s proposal is lower);

·        The City is not interested in changing their level of service to match Jackson County;

·        The City requires transfer of ownership of Lincoln and Briscoe playgrounds; and

·        The property value of $700,000 is too low for the Lincoln and Briscoe playgrounds.


An alternative to an outside contractor would be to hire a district employee for grounds maintenance.


Questions from board members:


·        If the district has an employee to maintain small areas, what would it cost to contract services for the large areas?

·        Can the District get a guarantee from the City that they would not sell the Briscoe and Lincoln playgrounds?

·        Can the District get a deed restriction for open space?

·        Is it worth giving up ownership to have good maintenance?


Chair Parker wants to specify the grounds services we want in an RFP.


Director Marr thinks we need to reach an agreement with the Parks Department.


Melissa Mitchell-Hogue encouraged the board to continue negotiations with the Parks Department. The Save Our Schools and Playground Committee prefers that ownership of Briscoe and Lincoln playgrounds be transferred to the Parks Department. If the district renews the contract with Jackson County, she asked for flexibility that would allow the Parks Department to take over maintenance.


Board members should give their ideas to Director Amrhein for an alternative proposal for grounds maintenance to be considered at the April board meeting. The district will make recommendations regarding the food service and grounds maintenance contracts at the April meeting.


V.     Adjourn


       There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:58 p.m.


Anita Charters, Recording Secretary





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