The Tucker Board of Education met in a special work session Monday to review a wellness policy that has been criticized repeatedly by parents.
The past three regular BOE meetings have featured concerned parents voicing their opinions about the wellness policy. The parents' complaints have been directed toward fundraising proposals that have been rejected due to guidelines in the policy that disallow the marketing of food items which are not considered nutritious.
Board member Janet Preston started Monday's meeting by stating that, no matter the changes made to the policy, all revisions should be fair.
"If you read this strictly, we should be enforcing this policy to all foods that emanate from the schools, concession stands and the whole bit," Preston said.
Other board members agreed and brought up more specific issues about when and where fundraisers will take place.
Member Jerry DiBacco mentioned the difference between selling nutritional items during and outside of school hours.
"I think it's pretty plain that we don't want any of this sold during school hours," he said.
Board member Tim Turner agreed, saying that sometimes food items are delivered during school hours.
"We can't have this stuff delivered at the schools," Turner said.
Discussion then turned to fines and responsibility. Teresa Simmons, executive secretary for the Board, said the Tucker County Board Office is allowed to fine school officials who are marketing unapproved food items during the school day.
"I want to make sure that people (are aware of) the fines," Simmons said. Money gained from fines against the school, she said, are given entirely to the State of West Virginia.
Board members said that any fundraiser done under the school's name needs to be approved by the county. They also said that this restriction is being subverted by parent groups who are starting their own official groups to give a title to fundraising efforts.
Board members agreed that subversion will occur, regardless of the strictness of the wellness policy.
"You can't regulate what is happening after school hours," Turner said.
Preston suggested the wellness policy be amended to state that fundraisers completed after school hours are not subject to food requirements which are enforced during the school day.
Jared Parsons, board president, said that Dr. Eddie Campbell, superintendent of Tucker County Schools, had expressed that it may be proper to leave fundraiser approval in the hands of each school principal.
Currently, school principals initially approve fundraisers and Campbell awards final approval or disapproval.
Board members also mentioned that education for staff members is important, saying they need to know what the wellness policy prohibits.
In the end, Preston proposed to the board a motion that includes amending the wellness policy in the following ways:
- No sales, delivery, consumption or marketing of unapproved food items will be permitted on school grounds between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- All fundraising applications will need to be approved by the principal of the Tucker County school in question and by the superintendent, Dr. Campbell.
- Fines can still be incurred for breaking the policy and, in the case of a fine, the guilty party will be subject to reimbursing the school for any lost funds.
- The new policy will not be applicable to fundraisers that take place outside the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- The new policy will only be applicable when students are in attendance.
The board approved Preston's motion and will carry the amendments through to the next BOE meeting, where they may be altered before a final version is voted on.
Contact Casey Houser by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.