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Thu, June 27

Kingman Unified approves wage increase for food service employees
Food service employees will receive 3-percent raises

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Food service workers serve lunch at Manzanita Elementary School Thursday. Pictured is Lois Bolles.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Food service workers serve lunch at Manzanita Elementary School Thursday. Pictured is Lois Bolles.

KINGMAN - At least 75 food service workers will receive a 3-percent wage increase on Monday.

The Kingman Unified School Board unanimously approved the increase - proposed by Food Services Director Paula Loomis - Tuesday.

Loomis explained that most of her employees make $7.80 an hour, and that half of them work less than part time - 2.5 hours a day. Combine these factors with the difficulty of the job, and what you have is high turnover.

"My turnover is great," Loomis said. "It's a revolving door."

Despite being part of KUSD, the district's food service is largely a stand-alone operation. Through the Arizona Department of Education, the federal government reimburses the program for each meal served. If a student pays for a meal, Loomis receives 28 cents. She is also reimbursed $2.79 for every free meal served and $2.39 for every reduced-price meal served.

Loomis is allowed to keep three-months worth of operating expenses within her cash reserves, and every cent of that money must be spent on food services.

"I'm out of compliance," Loomis said. "There's too much (money in the reserves)."

According to 2010 Census poverty data, poverty within the KUSD has risen by 6 percent, meaning more students qualify for free and reduced meals.

This factor has bolstered Loomis's cash reserves.

Roger Jacks, KUSD's superintendent, said Loomis has found plenty of ways to spend the excess money. She has purchased all the equipment she needs, including trucks, ovens and new lunchroom tables, Jacks said.

None of the money Loomis will use to give the raises will come out of KUSD maintenance and operations dollars, Jacks said. It all comes from the reimbursements, he added.

For the approximately 37 part-time food service employees, the wage increase amounts to about $7 extra a week, Loomis said.

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