This post has been designed to answer questions that the community may have regarding school related issues. If you have a question about school operations; policy, budget, future plans or anything similar that you would like to see answered in a public forum, you may mail, email or call me with your question. If you would prefer to remain anonymous, please make that request.
Although there is no such thing as a bad question, certain questions may not be addressed, specifically questions that deal with individual students or individual personnel. It would be unethical to discuss these topics in a public forum. These are also considered to be confidential topics according to state law.
Gossip and hearsay are damaging to our school. It is my hope that this “blog” will address some of the rumors that are typical in every community and that it will set the facts straight. We don’t claim to be perfect but we do make every effort to be open and honest regarding our school business. My hope is that this “blog” can prevent us from getting sidetracked so we can stay focused on our mission of educating our students.
My contact information is: Tom Bean ISD
P.O Box 128
Tom Bean, Tx 75489
February 14, 2017 - I received a few questions regarding the school cafeteria at the “Meet the Superintendent” night about the requirements and/or restrictions in the school cafeteria.
I will attempt to answer these questions and expand a little bit on them in as brief a manner as possible. Please understand that I am summarizing a manual that is hundreds of pages long. For more information on school lunch regulations, you may go to squaremeals.org or contact our Food Services Director, Flo Penrod.
As most of you know, the school receives a substantial amount of money from the federal government, Tom Bean has budgeted approximately $232,000 this year, to assist in funding the school breakfast and lunch program. The USDA places guidelines on the types of foods that are allowed to be served, how the foods are to be prepared and the amount to be served on each plate as well as numerous other guidelines and restrictions, including any type of food or snack that is distributed or sold by school personnel at any time during the school day. Unfortunately, this also includes items that are sold as fundraisers by different school organizations. Our cafeteria director and our administrators are responsible for following these rules. Our school food service department is audited on a regular basis and also may be “spot checked” at any time. If we as a school are found to be not following the guidelines, penalties will be imposed. Schools may lose the funding provided for that day’s breakfasts and lunches, or more severe fines that could be in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
Please understand that we do not always agree with each of these regulations but that we are attempting to do our job as best we can to prevent the school from receiving a fine or a loss of revenue, which we use to provide the best possible breakfast and lunch that we can for our students. We attempt to use common sense as best we can to deal with these issues, but the risk of losing funds is real. I have known multiple schools in the area from which I came were fined and/or lost some funding as a result of not following the guidelines imposed by the federal government.
I would like to give you one example of how our local schools have to deal with these regulations. At my previous school, we hosted an annual basketball tournament. The first game of the tournament tipped off at 8:30 a.m. At some point during the day each of the grade levels were allowed to watch a game. Many of our younger students had never attended a basketball game so we took this opportunity to expose them athletic contests.
Like most schools we had a concession stand available for the teams and fans. It was important for those teams for us to cook burgers and have something for the visiting players and fans. There was nowhere in our community where these folks could get anything to eat for 15 miles and that was in the wrong direction for the traveling teams. Unfortunately, our students were not allowed to purchase items out of the concession stand. Rule 26.11 in the school lunch manual states that: the concession stand is considered to be “in competition” with the school lunch program. Elementary students may not be served a competitive food or have indirect access to a competitive food during the school day, junior high students may not have access to these competitive foods from 30 minutes before their lunch period to 30 minutes after their lunch period, and high school students may not have access to these competitive foods during their lunch period in the cafeteria. So therefore, we allowed the high school students to
purchase items out of the concession stand since it wasn’t in the cafeteria, the junior high students could purchase items after 1:30 but the elementary school students were not allowed to purchase items until after school had been released.
The guidelines for the School Lunch Program are constantly changing. We make every effort to keep our parents informed of these regulations. As rules change and we become more familiar with them we will distribute the regulations through the campuses. If you have any questions about the school lunch guidelines, please contact your campus principal.
February 6, 2017 – I had several calls last week regarding the dress code, specifically at the high school. Parents had heard a few different things regarding the dress code so I am going to combine those questions into one response and address them.
Sweats/Sweatsuits. I know that multiple teachers have asked Mrs. McCarty to enforce the dress code on a more consistent basis so she and I have discussed this issue since my arrival. She/we have not changed the dress code in any way. It is my understanding that sweats/sweatsuits are allowed to be worn by students according to the Tom Bean dress code. If a teacher informed your child that she could not wear sweats, the teacher was mistaken. If your child heard this from other sources, they were mistaken.
Ponytails. The dress code does state that ponytails MAY be considered a distraction. It leaves the interpretation of this up to the principal of the campus. Personally, I don't know that I've ever seen a girl’s ponytail be a distraction deserving of the hair being cut off, but I do know it could be a possibility. For example, an elementary student that continually wiggles/wags her head to hit students with her hair while in line or flips it into another student's tray at lunch. I have seen students do this but once corrected by the teacher, they have stopped. If there were continual problems, it could be a possibility that the principal would ask the parent to shorten the hair. Once again, I've never seen that happen but I suppose that it could.
Since there has been a lot of misinformation floating around the high school, Mrs. McCarty had already planned to address the dress code issue with students. I am sure she will meet with the students very soon. Our goal is not to change the dress code but just to enforce it on a consistent basis so student dress is not a distraction in the classroom.