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Feeding the need

Bridgeport schools finding ways to provide more student breakfasts

BRIDGEPORT — With social distancing demands meaning that students must limit time spent outside thor classrooms, officials in the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District saw a problem with the breakfast schedule.

It seemed that many students — high school, middle school and elementary — just weren’t eating.

But Superintendent Brent Ripley said during a regular monthly board of education meeting Wednesday that it didn’t take long for the problem to be resolved.

“We’ve started to take breakfast to the high school and middle school students, as well as the elementary (students). It’s increased our revenue about $15,000 last month,” Ripley said, noting that the district received a grant for that amount. “We’re happy about that.

“The elementary students eat breakfast in the cafeteria anyway, so we are able to space them out appropriately,” he noted. “We take the breakfasts to the high school and middle school classrooms.”

Since Bridgeport is a Seamless Summer district under U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, it is able to serve all students breakfast and lunch for free, Ripley added. As a result, the district receives additional federal reimbursement for serving more meals.

He also said that the older students can eat and work at the same time.

“I don’t know about you, but when I’m working from home I am usually eating while I’m working,” Ripley revealed. “It seems to be working. because more students are eating breakfast.”

In addition, Cafeteria Director Donna Burlenski informed the board that she had received a $15,000 grant through the No Child Hungry program.

“We’re going to use that to purchase baskets that we use to deliver the breakfasts,” he added. “We are also going to replace some equipment for the kitchen.”

Ripley said the five-member board approved a resolution supporting House Bill 305, or the Fair School Funding bill, which could be beneficial to the district down the road.

“It’s an initiative started by Bob Cupp (speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives) … in an effort to fix the funding that was declared unconstitutional in the state of Ohio way back in the late 1990s,” Ripley said. “If that gets passed in the House and then the Senate and the governor, that could increase our funding to around $1.7 million. which would help us out tremendously.

“We do a lot for our kids in the district, so we’re hoping it passes,” he stressed. “We’ll be reaching out to our representative in Jack Cera and Senator Frank Hoagland. Hopefully they will support education.”

In other news, Todd Antill recently was elevated from assistant transportation/maintenance supervisor to transportation/maintenance supervisor when Anthony Eden left the district for employment elsewhere. Antill’s former position was eliminated by a 5-0 vote Wednesday.

“That will save the district about $75,000 a year” from salary and benefits for that position, Ripley said.

Antill’s new position will pay him $55,492 this year.

Antill is a 1988 Shadyside High School graduate and previously worked 23 years at Commercial Vehicle Group Mayflower Plant in Shadyside. He has one daughter, Alexis, a senior at Shadyside High School.

“Anthony has many skills. In my 18 months here, he taught me a lot,” Antill said of Eden.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed added duties on Antill and his staff.

“Our workers and bus drivers are working their tails off,” he said. “They are cleaning and disinfecting things daily.”

Ripley said Antill is a good fit for the district.

“Todd is a team player. He’s all-in for Bridgeport,” Ripley said. “He’s a very approachable person. He will step into this position and he will learn quickly.

“We’re thankful for the work Anthony Eden gave us in his two years here,” Ripley added. “They hustle every day, and they put a lot of hours in. We’re thankful for the job Anthony, Todd and the custodians for the work they put in to keep the building clean and disinfected.”

The next regular monthly board meeting is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 9 at the administration building.

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