Local News

Amid triennial wellness assessment, some ask if D161 committee can be more effective

A conversation about a recently completed triennial wellness assessment led to a bigger discussion about how Flossmoor School District 161’s Wellness Committee could improve its nutrition education efforts.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act requires that all schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program complete a triennial assessment of their Local School Wellness Policy and post the results on the district website, according to Jackie Janicke, the district’s director of special education. 

The assessment looks at compliance with the wellness policy, how that policy compares to model policies and progress made toward attaining goals, she told the board of education Monday, June 14, during its regular meeting.

The completed assessment can be found here. Though several administrators noted there is no real penalty for the results of the assessment. The Illinois State Board of Education simply wants schools to start performing better, Associate Superintendent Frances LaBella explained.

“As far as what the real hammer is, there isn’t one other than getting a write-up from the state,” LaBella said.

Janicke noted there will be a focus next year on nutrition education, and the Wellness Committee is looking at how nutrition and healthy lifestyles are being promoted within the buildings. But Board Vice President Cameron Nelson asked if the committee could be doing more than it has in the past.

“It feels a lot like a committee that exists because it has to exist,” Nelson said.

Superintendent Dana Smith acknowledged that is the case and that meetings of the committee have been sparse. But he thinks there is opportunity to make that work more of an emphasis in District 161.

“I think moving forward, we bake it into the work that we’re doing, because this is good information,” Smith said. “It’s also good for kids. We want to make sure we spend the appropriate amount of time on it.”

Nelson said he would like to know whether the hours people put into the committee actually improve the nutrition of students in the district.

“I’m just looking for opportunities: how can we actually improve things?” Nelson said, noting the educational efforts may be there but asking if they translate in the lunchroom. “If we don’t go that last mile, it doesn’t mean much.”

Other business

  • The school board voted unanimously to approve its tentative budget. It calls for $36.89 million in expenditures compared to $35.23 million in revenues in fiscal year 2022, as discussed in May. The final budget is scheduled to be adopted in September.
  • The school board voted unanimously to approve the new Activate K-8 science curriculum and professional development. The cost is $222,199.67, and District 161 is to utilize Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund money to pay for the resources up front. Local funds may be utilized for yearly costs to replace consumable materials, according to Amabel Crawford, the district’s director of learning and instruction.
  • The school board voted unanimously to approve summer construction projects at a cost of $78,925.28. Henry Brothers is to replace columns at Normandy Villa, Serena Hills and Flossmoor Hills, as well as add an interior wall at Normandy Villa.
  • The school board voted unanimously with its consent agenda to accept a donation of 80 books on CD from the Flossmoor Public Library. The donation, valued at $3,600, will help create an audiobook section at Parker Junior High School, according to board documents.

Community Calendar

News by email

Subscribe to The Latest (daily headlines email)

* indicates required

View previous campaigns.

Free weekly newsletter

Subscribe to The Weeks (weekly newsletter)

* indicates required
Most read stories this week