Wittgraf offers district money to remove pop, candy machines

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 6/30/99.

Etta Wittgraf, a retired teacher and substitute teacher for 19 years, offered to pay the board $5,000 to remove the pop and candy machines from the schools during their Tuesday night meeting.

Wittgraf, who subs in the Paynesville School District, said she has seen a change in kids in the school system. "I feel there is a problem and the students need an alternative to the pop and candy machines," Wittgraf said.

While handing out literature about the effects of sugar and caramel coloring on our systems, Wittgraf stated surveys show when students were taken off sugar, their test scores rose 10 to 13 percent. "The students don't need sugar snacks, but fruit juice, apples, or cheese and crackers," Wittgraf added.

Wittgraf said she would even put her checkbook where her mouth was and offered to write out a check for $5,000 annually if the district would remove the machines from the schools. The high school makes between $5,000 and $7,000 a year from the various pop and candy machines in the building.

John Janotta, high school principal, explained there would be problems if the machines were taken out of the buildings. "There is a clause in the contract with the vending company that the district will sell a certain amount of pop in exchange for items given to the school, such as new scoreboards (football, baseball, and basketball)," Janotta said.

Superintendent Howard Caldwell stressed the schools use the profits from the machines to fund various school programs and activities.

School board chairman Pat Flanders said the board needs to be open-minded about the proposal. "I won't support banning the machines from the school, but we need to educate the students about their usage," he added.

Deb Gillman, middle school principal, said the middle school had bottled water in a machine at one time but removed it for lack of sales.

Proposed budget
Superintendent Caldwell informed the board he had obtained additional information since the last meeting that allowed him to make some adjustments to the budget.

"I did some recalculating after receiving numbers from the education bill and the numbers in our budget changed for the better," he told the board. "I feel the budget looks better than the last time with an additional revenue funds from the state. We'll continue to make adjustments as needed," Caldwell added.

Emergency procedures
The board reviewed an updated version of the Emergency Procedure Handbook. The handbook will be given to all the staff members and administration.

The handbook covers crisis intervention, fire procedures, bomb threat responses, natural disaster procedures, intruders, kidnappings, weapons, assault/fights, and a lockdown procedure.

"The emergency procedures outlined in this plan are intended to provide direction to those having responsibility for the safety of students, staff, and users of the school facilities.

In other business:

•The board received a legislative update on the recent education bill from Rep. Doug Stang, R-Cold Spring, and Senator Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville. "We'll (the Legislature) never be able to fund school districts the way they need to be," they added.

Stang said the Legislature acknowl-edges the problems school districts are facing with declining enrollment and equity funding.

•The board approved the five-year plan for facilities and equipment capital expenditures.

•The board approved using the legislative approved $3 marginal pupil unit amount for helping fund costs for reducing class sizes. The funds were newly approved this year.

The legislation stipulates the district has three choices on how to spend the money: reduce class sizes, all day kindergarten, or use the money for special education student/teacher ratio.

•The board approved an agreement with the Central Minnesota Computer Center for computer technician services for the next school year.

•The board accepted the resignation of Velda Larson, board member, as of July 1.

Caldwell informed the board that at the next election in November, there will be five positions on the ballot due to the resignations of Larry Fleck and Larson.

Terms up for re-election are Pat Flanders, Maurice Dosdall, and Lowell Haagenson.

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