Days added to school calendar; APSB announces lunch changes

CROWLEY – At its regular January meeting Monday night, the Acadia Parish School Board decided to add days to the school calendar to make up the days missed this school year.

“Really, it’s tough,” said Superintendent John E. Bourque. “Everyone wants to close school until you have to make up days.

“We feel it’s safe at the schools instead of these kids being home alone. But, if a parent has any doubt, the child will be excused from school.”

Bourque added that the school bus drivers have also been informed to not travel down roads that are in doubt as well.

“Did we have a couple of problems this morning with buses? Yes, but overall our bus drivers did a great job,” said Bourque.

Furthermore Bourque announced that the Fifth Ward schools and Evangeline Elementary will be closed today, Jan. 15.

The weather system that stalled over Acadia Parish Wednesday night and early Thursday morning left large parts of the parish flooded Thursday and Friday and still has areas flooded Monday, mainly the Fifth Ward–Mermentau, Morse, Midland and Estherwood.

It is unclear when these four schools will be able to reopen for sure as the Mermentau River and Bayou Plaquemine Brule have not started to recede, but the board is hopeful the schools will be able to reopen Wednesday.

“Hopefully we can return in the Fifth Ward Wednesday, but we are monitoring the situation,” said Bourque.

According to Bourque, the district will not see a longer school year and will see make up days this month, as long as the water levels start falling.

Bourque proposed that Acadia Parish eliminate its Parent-Teacher Conference Day next Tuesday (Jan. 22) and instead it will be a full instructional day. The Fifth Ward will also go to school this Friday (Jan. 18) to finish making up its missed days. Evangeline Elementary will be a few minutes behind still, but Bourque said the principal of the school will have the opportunity to use Evangeline’s bank time to make up those minutes.

New USDA regulations give parish good news

More meats/meat alternates and grains will be added to school lunches this school year in high schools across Acadia Parish as announced at the Acadia Parish School Board’s Monday night meeting.

Under pressure from lawmakers, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has changed its school lunch requirements to allow more meats and grains. USDA’s modifications to the requirements are temporary as they apply only to the current school year.

State agencies have been told to consider any school district compliant with the component requirements for grains and meat/meat alternates if the menu is compliant with the daily and weekly minimums for these two components, regardless of whether they have exceeded the maximums for the same components.

According to Adrianne Vidrine, Acadia Parish Child Nutrition Program supervisor, this news is especially good for the parish’s high schools.

Although meat/meat alternates and grain maximums have been removed, calorie, saturated fat and sodium maximums have not been increased.

Even still, Acadia Parish can return to last year’s portion sizes on some menu items, including chicken fries, meatballs, beef fingers and chicken nuggets.

Perhaps the biggest news for all of the parish’s schools though is the return of chili back to the hot dogs.

Acadia Parish’s menus have already been certified by the state based on the guidelines placed on schools at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.

At Monday night’s meeting, the parish also approved the purchase of a new refrigerated truck, contingent on its passing an inspection by the parish, policy changes concerning the naming of facilities and the disposition of surplus materials and supplies and a request from Mire Elementary’s band to perform at Disney World in Orlando in April.

In his comments, Superintendent John Bourque was very brief, saying simply, “Pray for pretty weather.”

The school board has designated Feb. 4 as the date for its next regular monthly meeting.

 

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