The Spring-Ford School Board started off Monday's meeting by celebrating the accomplishments of the marching band, two sports teams and the recently-honored 8th Grade Center.
The Golden Rams Marching Band was recognized for its October Tournament of Bands championship. Band director Seth Jones thanked the band parents, the administration, the board and the members of the community for their support.
"This is their fourth consecutive championship," Jones said. "I'm so proud of their hard work."
The band presented a signed copy of the score to the new Spring-Ford fight song, "Fight On Rams", to the board as a thank you gift, then performed the song for the meeting's audience.
Second, the board honored the 2012 Boys Golf team and their coaches, Jeff Mast, Gerry Hollingsworth and Dan Butterweck. The team won the 2012 PAC-10 team championship after a three-way regular season tie.
The board also recognized the 2012 Girls Field Hockey team and their coaches Jennie Moore, Mallory Greene and Samantha Alexander. The team had a stellar undefeated season.
Finally, the board passed a resolution officially honoring 8th Grade Center principal Michael Siggins, his students and staff for the school's National Blue Ribbon School honor.
Siggins received a standing ovation from the board and the crowd.
Food Service department update
Food Services director Paula Germinario spoke on the district's implementation of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. The district was required to make multiple changes to the food service program earlier this year as a result of the act.
"Elementary students are not eating the fruit or vegetable, so there's a lot of waste," Germinario said. "High school students say there's too much fruit and vegetables and not enough protein."
Lunch purchases have dropped 35 percent from this time last year and the department is currently working from a $56,270 deficit.
Germinario said that lunch choices should be getting better soon, as suppliers are reformulating food items under the new guidelines.
"Some of the old favorites will be back," Germinario said.
Germinario also said that the feedback she's been receiving suggests that students feel the lunch is too much to eat in one sitting, so the food is being wasted, and the older students and student-athletes aren't getting the protein they feel they need.
The cost has been higher for many students and parents because students are buying more than one lunch or purchasing a la carte items.
Germinario explained that the high school cafeteria will be offering Meal Deals starting this month that will be priced at $4.85 and will allow students more options.
"This continues to be a work in progress," Germinario said.
Guidance counseling and planning update
10-12 Center Principal Patrick Nugent, guidance counselor Kristin Beideman and College and Career counselor Maren Bhalla gave a presentation on guidance counseling options for students in 9th through 12th grade.
Beideman explained students' options at each grade level. Meetings are held with students and parents at each grade level. Students also get help selecting courses each year with an eye towards making sure that if they plan to go to college, they are getting scheduled for courses that are in line with general college requirements.
In 10th and 11th grades, students get information on placement tests such as the SAT, ACT, and AP tests.
In 11th and 12th grade, they get help planning and submitting college applications. If the student plans to look for full-time work, the counselors focus on resumes, cover letters, and job applications. If the student wants to join the military, the counselors can help them prepare for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and will help them connect with military recruiters.
Bhalla, who is in charge of the Future Planning Center, serves as the college/military recruiting liaison and helps students manage NCAA eligibility if they plan to play Division I or II sports. She also manages multiple evening programs and programs hosted by outside groups or agencies, such as regional college and career fairs.
"A lot of the evening programs are based on feedback we got [from students and parents]," Nugent said.
Board vice president Joseph Ciresi asked if the guidance department gets any indicators of why students get rejected from schools, and if, as a board, there was anything that could be done as far as curriculum or other needs to help that.
Bhalla said that most schools will not talk to the guidance department about why an applicant was rejected and are often vague with the students, too.
Ciresi suggested and other board members agreed that it was worth further discussion in the Curriculum committee.
Beideman reiterated that their main focus is helping students be ready for what comes after graduation, whether it is college, employment or military service.
"We certainly want every kid to graduate with a plan," Beideman said.