The Board of Education will vote on a new policy regarding food in classrooms at its next monthly meeting on Monday, September 18. The board had a first read of a policy that states that birthday and classroom/holiday celebrations will not involve food. Under the proposed policy, food would be permitted with prior approval for one curricular experience per grade level at each school and at one school-wide celebration at each school each year such as field day.
Board Secretary Mara Saccente said, “The Policy and Personnel Committee has spent an extensive amount of hours discussing this. We’ve heard from many members of the public at our subcommittee meetings as well as at our full-board meetings and I’ve received some additional feedback and I welcome feedback from the board if you are not on the committee.”
Board Member Chantelle Bunnell said, “I think it’s important to note that within this policy under birthday classroom celebrations and non-food celebrations and other celebrations without food are encouraged, I think it’s really important to create moments for children and I think that we’re all here because of kids. I think that it’s really important that if we are going to, as a board, decide not to have food in our classrooms, that we still maintain our celebrations for kids. I think that we need to keep kids safe – all kids, but I also think it’s important to create those moments and continue to create those memories, whether it’s reading a book, extra recess, games in the classroom. I think that moving forward we need to add that into this policy somehow to make sure that that’s still there.”
Ken Ziman agreed that birthdays should continue to be celebrated at the principals’ and teachers’ discretion. “It’s important that children’s birthday be acknowledged. The whole point of this is that they don’t have to be acknowledged with food. Whether there is an announcement made, or however each school decides to do it, there is a way to acknowledge every child’s birthday.”
“The current language reads that ‘birthdays and classroom celebrations will be non-food, so that would infer that they still will take place, they’re just not food celebrations. It also says, ‘Other classroom celebrations without food are encouraged,’ said Saccente. “I’m not opposed to a policy that limits food, but I think it is important to keep that piece – the celebration – for kids,” Bunnell said.
The committee will discuss whether verbiage needs to be included in the policy that emphasizes that birthdays should continue to be celebrated or whether that detail should be left to principals at each school as well as possible alternative ways to celebrate.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent