WFISD approves District of Innovation plan & new food service company contract

The Wichita Falls Independent School District board members unanimously approved becoming a District of Innovation at Monday night's meeting.

This will allow the district to be flexible with or waive some state regulations.

However, this change is not finalized just yet. It still must be approved by the Texas Education Agency Commissioner.

If approved by the state, the recommendations made by the District of Innovation Committee only exempt the district from the state policies proposed in the District of Innovation plan.

Superintendent Michael Kuhrt said each proposed change will have to be approved individually by the school board because they require changing a local policy, too.

The only shift in regulations that will be good to go, if the given plan gets the green light by the TEA, is the 2017 school year calendar with the Thursday start date.

That is because the Calendar Committee and school board already gave it the okay at previous meetings.

Superintendent Kuhrt said he is glad the board now has the option to be more flexible and bring some control back to the local level.

Board members agree and said any time the state gives you an option like this, you need to take it.

Although the District of Innovation plan got a yes across the board from trustees, a couple of people expressed their concerns about the change during public comments.

A former teacher said he is worried that being lenient with the 90 percent attendance rule could hurt students.

The board also thanked all of those who put the time and effort into this plan over the last few months.

The board also entered into a one-year contract with a food service company.

After a lengthy discussion, the board decided Chartwells will be a good fit for the district's students.

Representatives from Chartwells said they can help increase the number of kids who eat on campus and the quality and nutrition of the food served.

The company will offer jobs and training to the district's current cafeteria staff and add four more full-time positions.

Employees will also see a 3.25 percent pay increase.

Chartwells will bring in a chef to create a menu just for WFISD, a dietician and even a food truck to serve kids at field trips and sporting events.

Some board members said they like that the company can be flexible and change the menus for all the campuses because a lot of the food ends up in the trash, wasting tax dollars.

Other added options Chartwells said it can bring to the table is a way for students to rate the food and see menus online, a school gardens, and culinary art mentorships and internships.

Chartwell representatives said students looking to pursue a career in the food industry could even work on the district's food truck and compete in cooking contest.

Board members said the price of food will not go up because of the change.

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