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OC schools to introduce new Back Pack Program

OC schools to introduce new Back Pack Program
Staff Reporter
No child should go hungry.
That’s the thought behind a new Back Pack Program being implemented in the Obion County School System.
Chastity Homra, the county system’s director of Coordinated School Health, introduced the innovative food program to Obion County School Board members during their session Monday night at South Fulton Middle/High School.
Ms. Homra said studies have proven that if a child is bathed, clothed, fed and nurtured, the child performs better in school. She said a student should not have to sit in class with their stomach growling or try to gorge their lunch before each weekend because they know they won’t get anything else to eat until school resumes on Monday.
Obion County schools have already taken steps to address the issue by serving breakfast in the classroom each school day. But Ms. Homra feels the new Back Pack Program will be another way to help feed less fortunate children on weekends.
The new Back Pack Program — which Ms. Homra hopes to implement when school resumes in the fall — will provide food for a student each weekend during the school year. A bag filled with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the weekend will be given to a student every Friday until school dismisses for the summer.
The program will be administered to children with parental consent and kept confidential for the families selected based on referrals.
In order to provide the service, funding or donations of food are needed. She estimated it will take $570 to feed three children for 71 days or $820 to feed three children 102 days. The 102 days would include fall break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, spring break and additional holidays, while the 71 days would only provide food for the weekends each month.
Ms. Homra said she already has a number of sponsors for the program, but additional support will be welcomed. Any groups, churches, businesses or individuals interested in providing monetary or food donations are asked to contact Ms. Homra by phone at 885-7171 or by email at
“As the coordinator for the Obion County School System, I do not feel that any child should go hungry for any reason,” Ms. Homra said in a letter explaining the program. “I feel the Back Pack Program would be an asset to our system by helping our needy students and families.”
She also briefed board members on the success of recent health screenings for 1,485 students in the county system.
Other action
In other action during Monday night’s 45-minute meeting, opened with prayer led by school board member Fritz Fussell, the school board:
• Received information on a new Early Reading Intervention Program to be implemented to replace Reading Recovery, which the board voted last month to end for substitution of a less costly reading intervention program for the lower grades.
Vikki Stevenson, supervisor of instruction for grades preK-3, outlined a program which will utilize four teachers who will specifically focus on a guided reading program for the lowest performing students systemwide through daily one-on-one and small group instruction.
• Heard an update on the Adult Education Program from supervisor Sharon Connell, who invited board members to the GED graduation on June 20 at 7 p.m. at Obion County Central High School. She said this year’s youngest graduate is 18 and the oldest is 60, with the average age being around 35.
She also noted there will be significant changes in the GED testing program effective Jan. 1, 2014.
• Approved a consent agenda that included monthly personnel, substitute teacher and financial reports, as well as a report of gifts to individual schools for the 2012-13 school year and a list of technology equipment declared as surplus for disposal.
The personnel report listed the resignations of Lake Road teacher Bennett Kirk (retiring), Black Oak special education teacher Deborah Branscum (retiring), OCCHS agriculture teacher Stuart Watson, Ridgemont teacher Mary Spivey, technology coordinator Jason Kendall, Lake Road teacher Emily Cross and South Fulton Elementary librarian Sally Ward (retiring); the hirings of OCCHS teacher/football coach Tim Pitcher, Lake Road teacher Lauren Moore, OCCHS math teacher Johnathan Nolan, Lake Road and Hillcrest maintenance employee Tim Barbour, Lake Road teacher Michelle Allen and South Fulton Elementary teacher Mary Ann Burress; and leaves of absence for food service employees Amy Bloxom and Michelle Love.
Substitute teachers added to the list for the month were Brittany Benefield and Lucy Reed.
• Approved the second and final reading of an amendment to board policy regarding class ranking.
• Approved the general study activity and athletic funds budgets for individual schools in the system.
• OK’d Obion County Director of Schools David Huss’ participation in the state’s Executive Development Program for Public School Leaders, Component III — CEO Leadership Institutes.
• Approved the board’s annual agenda for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
• OK’d the appointment of members to the student disciplinary hearing authority for one-year appointments.
• Approved allowing athletic practice during the school day, an action which must be done on an annual basis.
Football and basketball are the only sports that practice during the school day, according to Huss, who said all other sports practice after the school day.
• Approved Huss’ recommendation that all revenues derived from service agreements for the transportation of special education students be designated for the purchase of a special education bus.
• Approved declaring certain textbooks as surplus and authorized disposition via the most economical method.
• OK’d a request from the OCCHS Quarterback Club to pay a $5,000 coaching supplement to Jeff Lamb.
According to the request, the supplement will be paid to the board on a monthly basis and it asks that the board, in turn, pay the funds to Lamb each month, ensuring compliance with accounting, TSSAA and Obion County Board of Education policies and bylaws. Board member Scott Northam noted the supplement will help cover expenses for Lamb’s special needs child.
• Approved a budget amendment to the General Purpose School Fund for the 2012-13 fiscal year to more closely reflect actual expenditures.
• Approved a bid from Cumberland for the purchase of three Inline V6 school buses for $85,427.14 each in the 2013-14 fiscal year budget, for a total budgeted cost of $256,281.42.
• OK’d a resolution concerning the school federal projects budgets.
• Approved an overnight student trip for OCCHS’ FFA livestock judging team.
• Learned the board will meet again June 24 at 7 a.m. at the board office in Union City for a year-end meeting to take action on any items to close out the fiscal year. The session will take the place of the board’s July meeting.
• Recognized 16 retiring school system employees during a reception which preceded the meeting. (Editor’s note: A photo of the honorees will appear on The Messenger’s Education Page in Wednesday’s edition.)
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at
Published in The Messenger 6.4.13

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