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Rolling in Dough
School Nutrition Program finds surplus in budget
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The Newton County School System food program has more dough than it knows what to do with. And not the kind that can turn into an excess of bread.

The School Nutrition Program (SNP) budget for the 2014-2015 school year was discussed alongside the Newton County Board of Education general fund budget meeting Monday, May 5 and included a request for 22 additional positions.

SNP currently has five months of operating expenses in its fund balance, according to Jan Loomans, Newton County School System director of operational services. Federal regulations limit fund balances to no more than three months of operating expenses, so Georgia Department of Education SNP will request a refund of two months unless the balance is reduced.

Loomans said there is about $700,000 to be spent during the current school year. More revenue will come in next year due to an increase in reimbursement rates.

“You never know what is going to happen in an emergency situation, like having to pay for equipment,” Loomans said.

Revenue comes from the government through free and reduced meal programs, Loomans said, along with about $220,000 for employee sick leave. Cash revenue is added to the fund balance by student and teacher sales and extra items.

The exact amount available to spend will come to light in June.

“It’s just hard to say how much it will be,” Loomans said. “It’s gone up for the last five years, so it would be unusual for it not to go up next year.”

Loomans requested 20 school-based assistant managers, which would cost $462,865 for salaries and benefits. Four small schools would share an employee. Having someone in this position would allow on-site managerial training and would reduce the need for substitute employees, Loomans said.

If board members approve the SNP budget, one position would be created for a training manager in the central office staff, costing $39,631.36 in salaries and benefits.

A main justification for this position is for implementation of a summer feeding program in June 2015. Loomans said current plans only account for food provided during camps but that she wants to expand to other options.

The SNP may provide food all over the county, Loomans said, including playgrounds, libraries, churches and “anywhere where children congregate in the summer.”

“In my mind,” Loomans said, “the summer feeding program will grow over the years.”

The last position Loomans requested would create a procurement specialist in the central office staff, costing the same as the training manager. Loomans said this request was due to increased purchasing regulations when using federal funding and the need for increased supervision of vendors by SNP personnel.

Board member Eddie Johnson voiced concerns about the future of these positions if the budget does not stay as healthy as currently projected. Loomans said the food service industry, from restaurants to schools, has a 35 percent annual turnover rate, which is high, allowing rearranging or transfers of staff to be accomplished instead of layoffs.