Petersburg Pilot -

School Board approves much needed cafeteria improvement


The Petersburg School Board held its first meeting of the 2015 school year. At the meeting, the board unanimously approved spending $18,510 for the much needed addition of an exhaust hood in the cafeteria kitchen.

“We have received a health code violation because we do not have an exhaust hood over our stove and steam kettle,” said Daniel Tate, maintenance/facilities director. “The school never was designed with a cafeteria, it was essentially put into a multipurpose room.”

Tate believes the cafeteria was originally called a gymnasium on the original plans for building. He said the cafeteria wasn't designed to be a full service kitchen, and operated a heat and serve program for years. Tate said students used to receive prepackaged foods that cafeteria staff would simply heat up and then serve. In recent years, mandates focused on increasing healthy food options in schools, effectively ending the heat and serve option.

Tate said the School district tried to receive State funding to make the necessary exhaust hood addition, but never received the funding due to tough economic times. But the school could no longer wait to make the upgrade.

“It's a big addition to our HVAC system, and that's why we need to have the right people that are qualified and certified,” he said.

The contract for improvements was granted to Bear Electric of Petersburg, and the work will be subcontracted to Ketchikan Mechanical.

“We are quite happy that this combination is here working on this project. Ketchikan knows our school very well,” Tate said. “They have done several of these exhaust hoods.”

The board also voted 5-0, to send a proposal to the Association of Alaska School Boards amending the current board policy on reserve fund cap limitations for Alaska School districts. Current board policy only allows School districts to carryover 10 percent of funds to their reserves, and the board would like to see that figure increased.

Funds in excess of the 10 percent cap are currently transferred back to the State, thus discouraging School districts to operate under conservative business practices. The Petersburg School District Board of Education is strongly in favor of increasing the Fund Balance percentage to 25 percent or higher, according to the resolution. The change would allow the School district to execute the standard business practice of maintaining a reserve of six months worth of operating funds.

“This was something we talked about in Juneau for the Legislative session, and it affects other school districts,” said board member Megan Litster. “I just think it's really good for districts like ours that have been conservative and good savers.”


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