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Cobre School Board discusses food service contract, plans tour of Bayard Elementary, will interview to replace San Lorenzo principal

By Margaret Hopper

The Cobre school board met at the District Office on Monday, July 14, with all board members present. Toy Sepulveda, board president, called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. after board members ended the 6 p.m. executive session. Sepulveda said they had discussed the food service contract with Southwest Food Service Excellence, which already has the contract, but not much else had been discussed in that closed session. No decisions had been made.

Additional word on the food service contract is that both Snell and the high school are served by it, and elementary schools may be added under that firm at later dates. Sepulveda said Hurley is already scheduled to have its food come from Snell and driven to the elementary. When asked about prices under the contract, Sepulveda said that is presently in flux, and adjustments may be made for any given month that the district makes no profit.

At a later time, Frances Kelly said the present staff would remain on duty, supported by this contracted company who will create menus, help secure supplies and make a number of changes to improve both the foods served and the atmosphere for students. Kelly said Don Wolfe, the representative who presented these ideas to the board, said they could create a food court atmosphere, with a variety of sections, including a deli, some ethnic
Draws, such as Italian, Asian, a salad bar or other theme settings.

Wolfe said this concept is gaining popularity and his company is already serving schools in Hatch, Clint, Texas, and some Arizona schools as well as others in New Mexico. Kelly added that cafeteria fare has long been an issue, dating back to the Dane Kennon years, and she hoped this would offer many solutions.

Kelly noted that the recent efforts of Emanuel Reynolds had brought serious attention to the fore, and that Emanuel and Mr. Mendoza had put a committee together that came up with recommendations, and the best of these had been this Southwest Food Service Excellence, which was now under contract and about to be tried. She recalled that the students on that committee had shown some real ability to work with problems.

After the regular meeting, Kelly said the local food director and two assistants had discussed a future meeting with Wolfe, with the intent of making plans for the changes needed in the coming school year. Wolfe said he was certain that these changes would bring more students back to the cafeteria, and that under his company's supervision, the district should see better prices for the same food, as well as profits overall.

Bayard Elementary is still being reworked; the district would like to see it reopened, when school starts in August, but some projects are still incomplete. One of those is the paving contract, according to George Peru. He reports that inside work is nearly done; some may be behind by about four days, but that is not a major problem.

The civil engineer out of Las Cruces questioned the elevations and drops, wanting the district to put in drainage pipes to fix a sixty-year old problem, said Peru. Being short on funds and knowing the excess water always flowed to the creek, he said he let the recent rains prove the point that there was enough drainage and they could get along with what was in place, as the district was in compliance without the added changes. Cement work, curbs and gutters were adequate and in place.

Peru said the security features are now greatly improved at Bayard Elementary, and incoming visitors must be buzzed in by the receptionist or other personnel. The other outside entries have either been secured or eliminated. "It should be a good job and a very attractive grade school," he said.

The board passed a Government Road Fund Resolution with New Mexico Department of Transportation, requesting cost share funds of $29,568 for paving projects at various schools. The state's share would be $22,176; Cobre's share would be $7,392.

The results of the recent hiring interviews for a principal to replace Snell's Sharon Miller, retired more than once, has been announced. The present principal at San Lorenzo, Chris Rottman, was selected, so that creates another opening there. Rottman said his plan is to support the Snell teachers and see the reading and math scores improve. The hiring process goes on as another interviewing is scheduled to fill the San Lorenzo position.

During the public input session, Frank Cordova reported that the school board leaders' retreat held in Taos recently was excellent; he and Frank Gomez attended it.

Sepulveda said there would be a tour of the Bayard Elementary work at 5 p.m. before the next school board meeting on July 28. Executive session should begin at 6 p.m. and the open session would be called to order at 7 or shortly after.


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