Oak Park schools plan to renew OPRF food service agreement

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Districts 97 and 200 are poised to extend the food service agreement in which the high school provides hot meals to Oak Park elementary schools.

The agreement between the two school districts began in 2007, a pilot year that saw two D97 schools receive hot lunches. It expanded to all D97 schools the following year under a five-year agreement that included serving breakfast.

The D97 Board of Education will likely extend the agreement for an additional three years sometime this month. Oak Park and River Forest High School charges D97 a per-meal cost for lunches and breakfasts. D97 is charged $1 per breakfast for all 10 schools. For middle school lunches, it's $1.83. The price for elementary school lunches, however, is going up a nickel, to $1.70 per meal, starting in the fall. The nickel increase is to cover the rising food costs incurred by OPRF, according to officials from both districts. Lunch and breakfast prices increased in 2011 for the same reason.

The additional money this time around will also cover a portion of the cost of a new van OPRF plans to purchase to transport the meals, district officials said.

The high school prepares the meals in its kitchen and delivers them to D97, whose staff serves them to students. Both sides have been pleased with the arrangement thus far, said Therese O'Neill, D97's assistant superintendent for finance and operations.

Parents also give the program high marks in various school-climate surveys conducted by D97 in the past five years.

Micheline Piekarski, OPRF's food and nutrition director, said the high school has enjoyed the partnership.

On a related note, Piekarski said OPRF is planning to serve additional healthy choices to its students. She said the menu already includes salads, fruit and sandwich wraps though students overall still prefer candies and sweets.

OPRF to form Financial Advisory Committee

The high school is looking for community members to serve on its new Finance Advisory Committee. Approved in March by the D200 Board of Education, the committee's focus will be to examine OPRF's current fiscal condition and educate the public about what it means.

According to OPRF, that includes examining the school's fund balance and how it can best serve the school and larger community. Committee members will be appointed and will include D200 board members and community members. According to the school, the committee's meetings will be open to the public and include invited guests who will make presentations on key school-related finance issues, followed by recommendations to the board.

The board is looking for individuals with a background in school law and/or finances or other relevant disciplines. Those interested in serving or presenting should send a letter of interest to Supt. Steven Isoye, sisoye@oprfhs.org, by Thursday, June 13.

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