Peach community wants to start school in September

jmink@macon.comFebruary 26, 2013 

FORT VALLEY -- A majority of people in Peach County want school to start in September of next school year, Superintendent Joe Ann Denning said Tuesday during the Peach County Board of Education work session.

Last month, administrators began gathering feedback on whether school should start in August or September of next school year. School officials drafted what each school calendar would look like and sent a survey to parents, students, teachers, staff and community members. A total of 1,555 people took the survey.

More than 57 percent want school to start Sept. 3. Under that schedule, the last day for students would be May 30.

More than 42 percent voted for school to begin Aug. 12 and end May 23. That calendar includes a few more student breaks compared to the calendar with the later start date. School board members will vote on next year’s calendar at the March 5 board meeting.

School meal requirements

In the middle of the work session, board members took a stroll through the school lunch line. While presenting the new United States Department of Agriculture meal requirements, School Nutrition Director TiSharkie Allen asked the board to file past a table in the back of the room, which was set up with bananas, salad, chicken sandwiches and beef stew.

“You’re a student,” Allen told board members.

As they filled their trays, a cafeteria manager instructed them to choose between chicken and beef stew and to take at least one vegetable and one piece of fruit. The experience was meant to literally give board members a taste of the USDA requirements, as childhood obesity continues to be a growing problem.

“As portion sizes have increased, we also have gotten larger as the years have gone on,” Allen said.

Allen gave board members a rundown of the new cafeteria guidelines, which require schools to serve a certain amount of fruits, vegetables, meat, whole grains and low-fat milk. Schools also must reduce sodium and saturated fats, and serve a specific number of calories to students each day depending on their grade levels. No fried foods are allowed.

Cafeteria workers are preparing and serving food differently, and students are filling their trays differently. Students are required to get a certain amount of foods, Allen said.

“It’s a matter of getting out there and educating parents and letting them know that this is what your kids are able to get or can get on a daily basis,” Allen said.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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