FPS seek options to feed youth over summer break

With only six weeks left in the 2010-11 school year, and the knowledge that more and more area families are signing up for assistance through SERVE, Inc. — 52 new households in March alone — Fulton Public Schools are looking for a way to make sure area youth don’t go hungry during the upcoming three-month summer vacation.

Superintendent Jacque Cowherd told the school board during its regular meeting Wednesday night that the district is investigating ways to better-utilize the federal grant it uses to fund food services for summer school.

“This year we’re talking with folks at the YMCA about whether we can provide food at some of their programs, we’re talking to SERVE about working on delivery,” Cowherd said. “We’re trying to maximize that grant and see if we can feed more kids.”

Cowherd also gave the board a quick update on several legislative issues that could impact the district in the future, including tenure legislation that would change the system to three-year tenure blocks — which would enable teachers to change districts and earn tenure in three years — and a foundation formula bill that would change funding from $6,300 per student to approximately $5,200 per child.

“It would be a simple way for the legislature to say they are fully funding the formula, but would actually hurt us a lot,” Cowherd said.

Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Hull also had some legislative updates, including the news that both branches “said to get rid of teacher tenure and want 50 percent of teacher evaluation to be based on student performance.”

“Fortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere this year, but I think it will be revisited next year,” Hull said.

She also talked about pending changes in the 5th Cycle MSIP (Missouri School Improvement Program) that she called “troubling.”

“MSIP has always been cyclical, now we’ll be evaluated every year,” Hull said, noting she does not believe the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has the personnel to perform those evaluations. “They also expect us, as a district, to make sure our kids that graduate from the high school go on to graduate from college.”

She said a number of educational associations in the state — including the Missouri Association of School Administrators — have spoken out against some of the changes.

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