Examinations of financial data of the Caddo Parish School Board cafeteria at the Midway office reveals that funds supporting the cafeteria are not in compliance with legal guidelines for the proper use of USDA Child Nutrition Programs. The initial report from the school boards documents shows that the cafeteria was operating at a loss of $47,411.79, while generating total revenue for the school year of $8,356.79. That’s $32.14 per day of operating income to pay for the cafeteria program to feed adults ONLY.
When asked to explain the deficit reported of over $47,400, the Board response was unclear, at best. Although the total expenses reported for 2010-2011 were $55,768.58. It is unclear how a cafeteria, open 180 days of the school year, and 80 additional days when students are not in school could generate only $32.14 per day in revenue. That’s the reported $8,356.79 divided by the 260 days the cafeteria reports workers operating.
Slashing student-based facilities, cutting staff and consolidating programs seems particularly draconian when a non-student facility justifies operation at a deficit and maintaining programs that lack any educational basis. The lesson students and the public seem to learn is basic mathematics, economics or general business skills are not the prerequisite for the Caddo Parish School Board to vote to keep programs. Additionally, most Midway office and elected board members go to work regularly unprepared and the dog obviously ate their homework.
To make matters worse, State Department of Education representative, Judy Stracener, was asked about legal funding of the non-student based cafeteria, with the emailed inquiry, which we discovered: “What is the policy for setting up cafeterias for adult employees of a school board using child nutrition program funds if the cafeteria does not serve children?” Her response was: “There is no policy that allows for school food service funds to be used to set up a cafeteria for adult employees of a school board. The purpose of the USDA Child Nutrition Programs is to provide nutritious and healthy meals for children. If you have any further concerns or would like to discuss further, please feel free to contact this office.”
The issue still has not generated the expected questions, such as:
1. Who is responsible for funding this program?
2. Who manages Income & Expense collections and purchasing at the cafeteria?
3. Will there be an internal audit to find those responsible for this problem?
More investigations of these issues should follow, however the attorney for the Caddo Parish School Board, Reginald W. Abrams, has threatened to withhold summary documents in a letter to Attorney John Settle, who has been making demands for information. The question remains which government agency will pursue furher questions of these issues in a “Responsible Manner.”It continues to be the intent of a select citizen committee to demand answers and records through the Freedom of Information Act. Documents will continue to be placed in the public domain for review. The website: www.Foward-Now.com will be one site that findings will be reported.