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School trustees tackle peanuts, reappoint leaders

September 25, 2013
At its September meeting, the Crawford County School Corp. Board of Trustees welcomed its newest member, Bill Harris, heard from Crawford County Junior-Senior High School nurses Kim Allen and Donna Huff regarding the growing need to adopt an Allergy Management Policy in the immediate future and tackled the job of realigning management duties within the board.

"Last month, you voted on the high school going peanut-free," Allen said. "However, after doing much research, it's a little more complicated than that."

Due to the number of young people in the school system being diagnosed with allergies from not only peanuts but tree nuts, food dyes, shellfish and other foods, the nurses and Dr. Devi Pierce worked together to formulate a prevention and response plan for the corporation.

"First and foremost, we want to provide the safest, healthiest environment for our students at our schools, but we also have to consider our liability issues," Allen said. "We have to think of everything down to the custodians who clean the tables."

The school will no longer utilize peanut oils or peanut products when preparing meals for the students. However, a large concern for the nurses and the corporation is those students who bring their lunches to school.

"We don't want to have to check every kid's lunch, every day," Allen said.

Allen and Huff said it's about containing the threat.

In order to get the word out to parents, they will be utilizing the school's phone messenger system to encourage parents to refrain from sending peanut products to school with their children. However, if they do send peanut products, there will be a special table for the students who have brought those to sit at during lunch.

"We're not telling those kids they can't (bring peanuts to school), but, if they choose to, they will have to sit at a table designated for students who bring peanuts," Allen said.

Allen and Huff said that the plan is still being fitted to each school's needs and the corporation cannot have a complete ban on peanut products or other allergens because that would create a false sense of safety. So, while teachers, cafeteria workers and nurses are attempting to make the areas as safe as possible, it is impossible to completely eradicate everything.

In other schools, it's the students who are allergic who are confined to one table during the lunch hour; however, officials at Crawford County have decided that in order to alleviate the potential for contamination, it will be the students who bring peanut products to school who will be confined to one area of the lunchroom. The reason they won't be sitting students with nut allergies at a table is because it still creates a potentially unsafe environment by surrounding students with heavy allergies by contaminants.

In addition to creating a safer environment, Allen and Huff are working to ensure student confidentiality.

For after-school activities, signs will be posted about pre-packaged items containing traces of peanuts, tree nuts or other allergens. In an effort to create a safer environment, Epipens are on site in case of an emergency.

"This is really in-depth, and the more research that we do, we find that it is very serious," Allen said.

In order to accommodate the new move to a mostly allergen free environment, the school's policy on charge accounts will have to be revised. Currently, if a student's meal account exceeds the allowable limit, they are served a peanut butter sandwich instead of the day's entrée. Nurses, cafeteria workers and school officials will have to work together to come up with a replacement that provides the same nutritional value.

In other news, the board welcomed Harris, who already had many ties to the school corporation. A former coach for the junior high school, his son graduated from CCJSHS in 2013 and his wife is a teacher for the corporation.

Harris was appointed to the board in August when Lucas Stroud, representative for District 1 and an 11-year member of the board of trustees, resigned in order to fill a construction trades teaching position at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School.

The need for reorganization came about in the wake of Stroud's (who served as president) departure.

On a motion by Danny Mitchell and a second by Myrna Sanders, Dennis Talley, who had been serving as acting president, was voted president 7-0.

In two other unanimous votes, Shawn Scott was named vice president and Traci Kerns was named secretary on motions by Sanders and Scott, respectively.

In other business, the board approved the following (7-0 vote unless noted):

Dr. Robert Boyd continuing with the next phase of his corporation wide feasibility study. Boyd presented an Analysis of Community and Student Demographics of Crawford County Community Schools to the trustees during the September meeting.

The 2014-16 Capital Projects Plan.

The 2014-25 Bus Replacement Plan.

The tax neutrality resolution.

The resignations of Alicia Bullington, Title I instructional assistant at Patoka Elementary School; Carly Kaiser, girls' basketball at Leavenworth Elementary School; and Adam Dixon, junior varsity football assistant.

The appointments of Janell Pfau, cheer coach at Patoka Elementary; Pharanda Finley, part-time custodian, and Kenneth Hunt, volunteer girls' basketball coach, at Milltown Elementary; Kim Allen, softball coach, Mark Hollen, assistant softball coach, Brian Jones, baseball coach, and Nick Cotner, junior varsity assistant football coach, at CCJSHS; Karen Pearson, part-time instructional assistant in kindergarten at English Elementary; Martha Anderson, part-time instructional assistant in kindergarten at Patoka, Mary Oglesby, part time instructional aide in kindergarten at Marengo; Martina Rasche, part-time Title I instructional assistant at Patoka; Ryan Conrad, boys' B-team volunteer basketball coach at Marengo; Robin Cox, cross country and girls' A- and B-team basketball coach, Kacey Cox, volunteer coach, Eric Emerson, boys' fifth-grade basketball coach, Kevin Milligan, sixth-grade basketball coach, Krissi Fraze, co-dance coach, and Jennifer Breeden, co-dance coach, at Leavenworth Elementary School.

Chasity Johnson as part-time cafeteria aide and Charity Harrison as part-time cafeteria cook at CCJSHS (4-2-1, with Harris and Mitchell against; Kelly Hammond abstained).

For additional items, see web version at www.clarionnews.net.

Approved Tanya Roser as yearbook sponsor.

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