Urbana School Board meeting to highlight art by students

Urbana School Board meeting to highlight art by students

URBANA – The Urbana school board's first business meeting with new officers Tuesday looks to be a little more colorful than most.

The board will recognize student art from each of its elementary schools as part of an annual fine arts program. The art will hang on the walls of the Burkholder Administrative Service Center, 205 N. Race St., U, for a year.

"That's one of the best nights of the year," said John Dimit, the board's vice president. "Any time that we have communications of any sort that directly involve the students, the school board members are very receptive to those evenings and find them much more rewarding than some of the other drudgery."

The arts presentation opens the meeting at 7:30 p.m.

What follows are several actions for approval – including a one-year extension of the ARAMARK food service contract – and a presentation from school librarians.

According to Carol Baker, the district's business manager, ARAMARK's contract rate for the meals it provides would go up by 3.2 percent. However, that doesn't translate into a firm price, she said, because the cost is determined by how many meals ARAMARK serves.

An increase in the district's cost wouldn't necessarily mean an increase in how much students would pay. Those fees are set by the district, Baker said.

After parents, students and the board raised concerns about the food service last spring, Baker said ARAMARK "followed up, and the board was happy with what they did."

Dimit said he has found "when concerns have been raised, ARAMARK has responded. ... As much as some people have complained about the content of ARAMARK food, I think sometimes it's the most balanced meal the child gets."

He also likes that students at the high school are able to get dinners at school, as some of them stay on campus long after the final bell for athletics, drama and other extracurriculars.

However, Dimit does want to see information on how ARAMARK has responded to issues of health and food choices. "The price increases are rather modest, " he said. "But I'm also interested in hearing how they're responding to some of the nutrition issues."

This is the third one-year contract renewal for the provider, with contracts lasting from July 1 to June 30, Baker said. After a fourth renewal, the district is required to put the contract up for a bidding process.

The board will also vote on whether to endorse a school travel plan, one more step in the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission's application for grants for improving sidewalks, adding bike racks and other factors that might make getting to school on two feet (or two wheels) easier.

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