Archive - Sep 11, 2008 - Page
By KATHRYN FLAGG
ADDISON COUNTY — The latest place to be hard hit by rising food and fuel prices?
The school cafeteria.
As costs are driven up by shrinking student populations and hefty fuel surcharges on food deliveries, many county schools are facing increasingly large deficits in their hot lunch programs — prompting several to hike prices this year from seven to 15 percent.
For the parents of the roughly 51 percent of all schoolchildren who eat hot lunch on any given day, those increased prices add up.
“The (school) boards have been briefed that this is seriously a belt-tightening year,” said Greg Burdick, the business manager for the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union (ANeSU). Five of the district’s six schools saw lunch price increases this year. “The boards all know that it’s going to be a tough year for hot lunch and a tough year for our budget.”
Burdick said that he didn’t know if price increases were any steeper this year than they’d been in the past — but he did say that increases weren’t as “spotty” as they had been in previous years, when they typically occurred at just one or two schools a year.
But even increased prices cannot fully “true” the mounting hot lunch program deficits facing some local schools — deficits that could creep as high as an estimated $70,000 at Bristol’s Mount Abraham Union High School. Mount Abe raised school lunch prices 40 cents to $3.
Outside of the ANeSU, other schools in the county have seen prices rise this year as well.
At Middlebury Union High School, lunch prices are up a quarter to $2.25 per meal. Vergennes Union High School saw prices increase from $1.75 to $2.
BRIDGING THE GAP
By JOHN FLOWERS
SALISBURY — Shard Villa trustees will not proceed with their previously stated direction of closing the elder care facility this fall. They will instead explore fund raising and other avenues through which they hope to keep the stately, 19th-century mansion in the senior care business for years to come.
In July trustees announced that Shard Villa — a historic landmark and one of the state’s oldest senior care facilities — would likely close its doors on Nov. 1. Trustees explained that soaring heating fuel costs and mounting upkeep expenses were making it very difficult for Shard Villa to remain solvent. The 130-year-old mansion in West Salisbury serves around a dozen elderly residents, many of them in their 90s.
But trustees, at a Sept. 7 meeting with staff and client families, confirmed they are now shifting their focus to keeping Shard Villa’s senior care facility open.
“The Trustees of Shard Villa in West Salisbury announced to staff and families this week that the villa will not be closing on Nov. 1,” reads a statement released to the Addison Independent on Monday by Shard Villa Board of Trustees Chairwoman Diane Benware. “The trustees are seeking alternatives that may be available and several board members are part of a task force being convened by the Preservation Trust of Vermont. The task force will conduct a feasibility study to explore what options may be available that will allow trustees to further the mission of the trust. A capital needs assessment is under way, and an energy audit of the structure will be handled by Efficiency Vermont.”
Benware added the task force will make its recommendations to the full board by the end of the year. In addition, a small working group of board members and family members will be focusing on fund-raising efforts.
By JOHN FLOWERS
EAST MIDDLEBURY — Mary Hogan Elementary School board directors are exploring ways of restoring bus service to many East Middlebury families who have had to find new ways to get their children to school since flood waters ravaged the Lower Plains Road Bridge on Aug. 6.
And the current lack of school busing isn’t the only issue pressing on the minds of the approximately 60 affected households on Lower Plains Road, Blueberry Lane, Daisy Lane and Pratt Road. Those residents — who must currently detour several miles to Route 7 via Plains Road (also known as Beaver Pond Road) in Salisbury — are also concerned about how their neighborhood will be served by emergency vehicles and snow plows.
“The biggest thing is you feel cut off from the town,” resident Michael Pixley said on Tuesday. “It’s amazing to think how that little bridge affects your lifestyle.”
Around a dozen affected residents brought their concerns to the ID-4 school board Monday evening. They emphasized the strain the added chauffeuring duties are placing on their personal and professional lives. Some families have had to dramatically reshuffle their schedules.
Jenny Quesnel and her husband, Tawnya, have one child each at the Mary Hogan school, Middlebury Union Middle School and Middlebury Union High School. Quesnel had hoped to re-enter the workforce full-time this month, but has been unable to do so because of her rigorous morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up duties at all three schools.
“It feels like you’re making a constant circle,” said Quesnel, who placed her weekly fuel bill at around $200.
Quesnel said Lower Plains Road parents were originally told they’d have to supply their own transportation for the first week of school.