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School Board Meeting Wrap-Up

May 24, 2012|By Joanna Clay
  • LBUSD honored the El Morro third-grade teacher with the “Teacher of the Year” award at Tuesday’s meeting.
LBUSD honored the El Morro third-grade teacher with the… (Courtesy Bill Darnall )

The following is from Tuesday's Laguna Beach Board of Education meeting.

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Teacher of the Year award

El Morro third-grade teacher Mary Blanton was honored as "Teacher of the Year" by the board and school officials.

Blanton also teaches a second/third grade combination class, which Principal Chris Duddy said she does with ease and enthusiasm.

Duddy called Blanton a mentor to other teachers and said he was impressed when he first arrived to the school to discover she had already created a website and blog for her class.

"Parents can go on there and see what happened that day in the classroom," he said.

He applauded her for her work with every type of student, from the high achievers to those who need additional help and support.

Board member Theresa O'Hare said "to see you in action is truly amazing."

"I'm so humbled to be here tonight," Blanton said.

She said she was appreciative of the recognition since there are so many "stellar" employees at the schools.

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"I can't think of any job I'd rather be doing, " she added.

Although many might think LBUSD sounds like a great district due to its resources and approximation to the beach, Blanton loves it for other reasons such as the dedicated parents and staff who have dealt with the bumps in the road and made the schools what they are.

"During those tough times, that's when you see the heart of the district," she said.

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Nutrition reviewed

Food Services Director Debra Appel led a presentation on what children at Laguna Beach schools are eating.

El Morro and Top of the World elementary schools and Laguna Beach High School all have salad bars, offering fresh, seasonal and sustainably-grown organic fruits and vegetables — many of which are from the Irvine Great Park.

The staff has been making strides to serve healthier meals, removing trans fats, reducing processed foods, using whole grains and incorporating initiatives like "Meatless Mondays." They use all-natural hamburgers and chicken burgers.

Parent Tiffani Ghere, a member of the nutrition committee and a dietitian from Children's Hospital of Orange County, spoke before the council on the improvements.

"I'm very optimistic right now, " she said.

She said the programs, such as Farms Move to Schools and Salad Bars 2 Schools, were created by some of the greatest minds in the country and she was excited to see Laguna Beach making changes.

"It's so critical. It's our health," she said. "We need to set the standard."

Supt. Sherine Smith said she's ready to make even more improvements, such as adding another salad bar or putting a rotisserie oven in at Laguna Beach High School.

However, the additions would be costly and cafeteria usage isn't as high as they'd like it to be. It initially went down when healthy food was introduced but numbers at the schools have increased since.

A rotisserie oven would cost about $17,000 and a salad bar costs around $50,000, Smith said. Other options include the "grab and go" for $5,000 — which offers pre-packaged sandwiches, salads and snacks.

Smith agreed further research by the committees and board approval would be required to move forward on such plans.

Board member Ketta Brown pointed out that investing more money in the program is tricky since children can't be forced to pay for the $4.50 meals.

Smith said it's important to move slowly with any changes.

— Joanna Clay

Twitter: @joannaclay

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