Grant-White Principal Wendy Trotter announced her June 2014 retirement to the District 91 school board on July 12 at the board meeting.

“She’s been thinking about [retirement] for some time, and I’ve been trying to talk her out of it,” said Superintendent Lou Cavallo after the meeting. “We hate to lose her.”

Because she announced early, Trotter will receive two years of a 6 percent salary increase, negotiated in the 2012 district contract. In fiscal year 2012, Trotter was paid $114,528.

Parent survey still live

The board discussed the results of the D91 parent survey. The survey is still on the D91 website, and parents are encouraged to participate. So far, 105 parents have answered questions on the survey, which the board will use to set district goals at their August board retreat. Three-quarters of parents who responded to the survey have children in preschool-2nd grade, leaving older grades much less represented, Cavallo pointed out.

The board agreed they needed more data to make good decisions about parents’ wishes and perceptions, especially in the upper grades.

School lunches add nutrition

The board agreed to continue its relationship with Preferred Meal Systems for next year. The company was selected last year after parent and student taste tests.

Also, school lunches will be more nutritious, thanks to new federal guidelines.

According to the new USDA rules, half of all bread items must be whole grain. All food items must have lower sodium levels set by the USDA. Trans fats are to be eliminated in all school lunch foods. Milk (chocolate or plain) must be 1 percent or skim only. New requirements include an increase of ¼ cup up to ¾ to 1 cup of vegetables per day and ½ – 1 cup of fruit per day. Meat servings will decrease from 1.5 to 2 oz. per day to 1 oz. daily.

The federal government will increase school reimbursement by 6 cents per meal to cover changes, but Preferred Meal Systems will increase meal costs by almost 3 percent. The district made money last year on school lunches because participation increased significantly, Cavallo said. But “our goal is not to make money on lunches. The cost to families will remain the same.”

All-year bus route postponed

The school board voted to postpone the adoption of a year-round bus route from north and south Forest Park to Forest Park Middle School.

D91 currently runs a bus during the winter months to bring students from the Betsy Ross and Grant-White neighborhoods to the middle school. Parents had approached the Citizens Advisory Council about a year-round bus, citing weather and safety concerns. Parents were worried that students who had to walk past CTA train stations might feel unsafe.

The board said that running an all-season bus route conflicted with their goals of promoting activity and fitness by encouraging bike and walking routes to school. They also pointed out that bus-ridership in the winter months was spotty. The board agreed to postpone the decision for a year and keep track of ridership during winter before committing to a year-long route. Because the district is small, D91 does not qualify for transportation reimbursement from the Illinois State Board of Education, and all bus costs must come out of the D91 budget.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...