Major changes in food service, new hires arrives at ANWSU

VERGENNES — Several changes have come this summer to Addison Northwest School District.
 ANWSD has made final its long-discussed food-service collaboration with Addison Northeast School District, bringing ANWSD schools’ food programs under the leadership of former Ferrisburgh Central School food service director Kathy Alexander; hired Panton business owner Kenneth Sullivan as its new building and grounds supervisor; and brought former Addison Northeast and Burlington accounting supervisor Elizabeth Atkins on board as the new ANWSD business manager.
ANWSD Superintendent JoAn Canning and ANESD Superintendent Patrick Reen had been talking for months about working together on what Canning called the districts’ “child nutrition programs,” and Canning said an agreement should mean savings for both districts, plus better food and nutrition education in Addison Northwest.
“We’re trying to improve the quality of the product for our students. We’re trying to increase education about how important eating well is to learning, and we’re also trying to do it in a cost-efficient way,” Canning said. “It’s not just about money, it’s about improving what we offer to kids and adults.”
Alexander, a Ferrisburgh resident, founded the F school garden and introduced more local foods into Ferrsiburgh Central, and she took that template to Addison Northeast. Canning said ANESD has seen more students choose school lunches under Alexander’s tenure, meaning more revenue, a model that should be a boon for Addison Northwest’s debt-laden food-service program.
“That’s the idea, that the participation rate should go up,” Canning said. “That’s certainly good for revenue.”
At least some food can be purchased centrally for both districts, she added, with more potential savings.
“Kathy is going to be managing the program in two different sites, but I imagine there will be some crossover in terms of the development of common menus, maybe some common purchasing,” Canning said. “When we develop contracts with local farmers, I believe that will be done for both sites. Some of those collaborative ways that we might be able to gain some efficiencies are going to happen.”
Sullivan’s full title will be Director of Buildings, Grounds and Safety, a new position created when ANWSD unified. Sullivan, according to his résumé, is a 1990 Vergennes Union High School graduate who has owned his own business, Ledge Hill Plumbing and Heating Inc., since 2005.
That business, his résumé states, serves “residential and commercial properties throughout Vermont” and has also installed boiler heating systems for three Addison Northeast schools.
Sullivan holds several certifications related to his profession, including a master plumber’s license and a propane license, plus others related to heating, ventilation, air conditioning and solar power.
Sullivan, like Atkins, began work on Monday.
Atkins replaces Tonia Mears as business manager. Mears was hired on Oct. 28, 2014, and left after her contract was not renewed.
Atkins, a Lincoln resident, worked the past two years in Burlington, and before that was an Addison Northeast accounting supervisor for 11 years. Atkins also worked for a decade prior to that in Vergennes as a bookkeeper for Family Life Services of New England Inc. According to her résumé she was set to receive her bachelor’s degree in May online from Liberty University.
Canning said the ANWSD business manager position’s job description changed under district unification, and that Atkins fit the bill.
“It is more of a leadership position, and working with administrators more directly, and the public,” Canning said. “She comes highly recommended.”
Canning expanded on what she called the “different set of skills” ANWSD, through a hiring committee formed a month ago, sought in its new business manager and believes it found in Atkins.
“We were looking for someone who could do public presentations, who had firm knowledge of the education calculation and tax rates. We were looking for someone who had some knowledge around buildings and grounds and food service management,” Canning said.
“We were looking for someone who had strong management skills and could develop a team, someone who could look at the efficiencies in a single school district by looking at how to use people in a different way and how to align our resources to accomplish those efficiencies.”

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