STOW — The Stow-Munroe Falls City School district is investigating how the nutrition services department wound up with a nearly $300,000 deficit.

According to a report, the nutrition services department ended the 2017-18 school fiscal year with a balance of negative $298,388.

“A committee has been formed to meet on our entire food service program to see if we can become more efficient in our operations,” said Superintendent Tom Bratten, who added the committee was scheduled to start meeting this month. “It will look at all available options and make recommendations to the board of education.

“They will begin meeting after the independent audit regarding the program is completed, probably the middle of September. We felt it is important to look at all operations of the program through an independent lens to see what options there are for us to improve financially and operationally.”

The deficit for the 2016-17 year in the food services department was about $168,000, Bratten said.

“There are several contributors such as dual job employees, an increase in insurance costs, and negotiated raises and steps,” Bratten said. “We don’t feel it’s just one thing, but this is exactly why the committee has been formed and the audit is being done so that we can attack any areas that are being overlooked.”

Right now, participation in the school’s breakfast and lunch program is low, said Allison Daugherty, nutrition services superintendent. This, along with the changes to school meal programs outlined in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, is responsible for the food service department running a deficit in the 2017-18 school year.

“Every year there has been a deficit,” Daugherty said. “It’s rare that a district is in the black.”

Another factor is the low number of students who are on the free and reduced meal program, Daugherty said.

“When you have a higher free and reduced, and a larger population, they tend to fare the best because they are highly subsidized,” she said.

 

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC