More Brooke schools to receive free meals

WELLSBURG – Children at two more Brooke County schools will receive free breakfasts and lunches as part of a federal program for schools that serve many low-income households.

On Wednesday the Brooke County Board of Education approved Colliers and Wellsburg primary schools’ participation in the Community Eligibility Option School program.

Established through the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010, the pilot program provides eligible schools with federal funds for breakfasts and lunches for all students for three years.

Tom Davidson, the school district’s child nutrition director, said to be eligible, more than 40 percent of a school’s children must qualify for free breakfasts and lunches.

A total of 193 pupils were enrolled at Colliers Primary School last year, while Wellsburg Primary School’s enrollment was 256.

Davidson said the program’s success depends on a high number of pupils consuming the breakfasts and lunches. If not, the school district will lose money spent for the food.

Last year Beech Bottom Primary School entered the program.

Davidson said the program has been successful there, with about 90 percent of the school’s 128 children consuming lunches. He said consumption of breakfasts is somewhat lower but consumption of breakfasts is lower at most schools.

Davidson said a school can opt out of the program each year or seek renewal after three years.

The program has been criticized by some because it provides free meals to students whose parents aren’t of low income.

But Davidson said it also may feed children who are borderline eligible or whose parents feel embarrassed about applying for free or reduced-price meals.

In related business, the school board approved the $19,195 purchase of a Combi oven for the Brooke High School kitchen where meals are prepared for most Brooke County schools.

Davidson said the oven is a combination confection oven and steamer used to cook and keep food hot for transport to the various schools. The price was the lowest bid for the oven and was submitted by Carney and Sloan Inc. of Wheeling.

The board also heard from Larry Jones, a welding instructor at Brooke High School, who asked it to consider prohibiting cell phones at the school.

Currently cell phone use is prohibited during class but students may use them before and after school and between classes at the discretion of the school’s staff, said Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson.

Jones said a majority of teachers in the school’s faculty senate want to see them prohibited because cell phones present a safety hazard and are not permitted in industrial settings emulated by the school’s vocational program.

He said even when they are set on ‘vibrate,’ their ringing can cause an accident by startling students working with machinery.

Jones said the phones are distracting during instruction in other classrooms, too.

He said if a family emergency should arise and a parent wants to pick up their child early, the parent still must contact the school’s office.

Jones said he’s learned some local schools collect cell phones from students at the start of the day, lock them up and return them at the end.

Board President Jim Piccirillo said he would like to hear from other faculty members, adding they should understand their own cell phones could create a distraction also.

The board also:

Approved the hiring of Amanda Vice as a special education teacher at Beech Bottom Primary School, C.J. Besece as an assistant football coach at Brooke High School, Michael Findling as an assistant football coach at Wellsburg Middle School, Jerome Anderson as a custodian at Brooke High School, Margaret Jeane Sheperd, as a substitute French teacher for Brooke High School, Amy Bennett as an assistant softball coach at the high school, Rebecca Drake as advisor for the high school dance team, and Joseph Erlewine, Betty Lou Harris and Denise May as substitute teachers.

Approved the transfer of Regina Zolman as an aide and autism mentor at Follansbee Middle School from the same position at Brooke High School, Delores DeGarmo as a cook at Jefferson Primary School for a cook position at Brooke High School, Karen Fox as a custodian at Follansbee Middle School from a custodial position at Jefferson Primary School and the high school

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