509-J to offer free meals to students

CFO Dan Chamness to retire

by: File Photo  - CFO Dan Chamness will retire at the end of December.

Providing free breakfast and lunch for all students is being considered by the 509-J School District.
   Superintendent Rick Molitor said 81 percent of the district's students are already getting free or reduced meals, and a free breakfast for kindergarten through fifth grade has been in place for many years.
   "The reason is because the time and effort for the federal reporting and documentation is getting to the point that it costs as much as providing free breakfast and lunch," Molitor said.
   Under a free system, he said the federal government would reimburse the district at 81 percent, as it has in the past, but would not require all the paperwork for three years. After that time, the free program would be reviewed.
   The district plans to start offering free breakfast to all students in November, and free breakfast and lunch next year, if it pencils out.
   Molitor noted the State Report Cards will be released to the public Oct. 11, and said the report was "very positive for 509-J."
   Eight architectural firms applied to direct the districtwide facility upgrades, performing arts center and stadium construction. The selection committee recommended BBT Architects of Bend, which the 509-J board approved. That firm had also previously been selected to help design the new Warm Springs Elementary.
   "During their presentation, they were very clear that they were big enough to handle both projects," commented board member Brad Holliday.
   Under personnel, Molitor announced that Chief Financial Officer Dan Chamness was requesting to retire, effective Dec. 31, of this year.
   "Mr. Chamness has done a phenomenal job for the district and will be leaving the district in good financial shape," Molitor said.
   Chamness helped guide the district through school funding cuts over the past several years, and encouraged the formation of a reserve fund for emergencies, both of which resulted in the 509-J District being in better financial shape than many other school districts in Oregon.
   Molitor said a team would be put together to search for a new financial officer, and Chamness will do part-time work on the construction bonds while the new person takes over.
   His retirement was approved, along with the hiring of one-year, temporary kindergarten teacher Amy Kestek for Madras Primary.
   The board gave its approval to spend $38,370 for A-Game Courts Co. to remove and replace the flooring in the small gym at Jefferson County Middle School. The work will start Oct. 19.
   Over 30 teachers attended the board meeting, holding signs that read "Working Without A Contract."
   For the remainder of the meeting, the board met in executive session to discuss teacher contract negotiations.