Briefs: Task force, state board meeting, recipe book, gardens

The Governor’s Task Force for Improving Education meets for a fourth time on Friday, March 15, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Simplot Room of the Student Union Building at Boise State University.

The agenda calls for chair Richard Westerberg to start with reviewing expectations and creating a timeline to guide the 31 education and business leaders appointed to the task force by Gov. Butch Otter. The task force is expected to offer lawmakers recommendations for the 2014 session.

Most of Friday will be spent in breakout group work, where participants will develop messages for upcoming community forums. The task force, directed by the State Board of Education, is planning to travel the state to host community forums and offer and gather ideas for improving education.

Click here to watch the meeting live and here for a list of the 31 members. Also find data used by the task force.

State board endorses university governance bill

The State Board has backed a bill that clarifies its governing responsibilities.

During a 17-minute special meeting Thursday afternoon, board members voted unanimously to support House Bill 282.

The bill deals with responsibilities and authority relating to colleges and universities.

Specifically, the bill gives the board exclusive authority for:

  • Financial reporting and allocating money and expenses.
  • Personnel and human resources.
  • Land use.
  • Insurance.
  • Procurement.

The discussion was continued from the board’s previous special meeting held Tuesday.

 New book offers recipes for school lunches

Fish tacos, mozzarella-crusted Pollock, Mandarin chicken rice bowl… These are just a few new menu items you might find on your child’s school lunch menu in the near future.

The Idaho State Department of Education published Chef-Designed School Lunch, a new book of recipes specifically designed for Idaho schools by an Idaho chef with the help of state dietitians – and Idaho students.

“We are eager to share the Chef-Designed School Lunch publication with schools across Idaho because it provides new, nutritious recipes that we know Idaho students will enjoy,” said Dr. Colleen Fillmore, director of child nutrition programs at the Idaho State Department of Education.

Last year, the department partnered with Liberty Charter School in Nampa to host “Chef Tuesdays,” where professional Chef Brenda Thompson worked with the local food service staff to serve new, more nutritious lunch recipes and taste-test each meal with actual students.

Based on their feedback, Chef Brenda crafted healthy recipes. These recipes now are available for every school in Idaho to replicate and serve in their cafeteria if they choose.

The state paid for Chef Tuesdays and the new publication as part of a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Child Nutrition Programs.

In addition to this new recipe book, the state held a drawing to give three school districts across the state the opportunity to spend the day with Chef Brenda. In April, she will visit the winning districts – Kamiah, McCall-Donnelly, and Preston – and work with the school kitchen staff to make some of these new chef-designed recipes.

Click here to download the full book or to view more chef-inspired-recipes that the Department posts each month.

Garden grants awarded to improve student nutrition

The State Department of Education is awarding $26,000 to help eight schools across Idaho build school gardens.

Each school will receive a grant of $2,000 to build a garden that will help promote nutrition, science and agricultural education.

Research shows that garden-based education can increase academic achievement and often result in higher test scores among students.

In addition to these eight schools, five childcare centers also funded through U.S. Department of Agriculture funding will be awarded school garden grants.

With the most recent grant funding, the schools and child care centers will implement a wide range of innovative educational activities, from outdoor classrooms to service-learning projects.  Each grant site will also be paired with a horticulture expert from the University of Idaho Extension to serve as garden mentors.

The grants are funded through a Child Nutrition Programs Team Nutrition federal grant. The grant requires that nutrition education be a part of every school garden plan, and every grant site has to allow students to taste the foods grown in the garden.

The State Department of Education awarded school garden grants to 11 schools in 2008 and to 15 schools in 2010. Based on the results these schools saw with their school gardens, the Department created the How Our Gardens Grow publication, which is posted online.

The following is a list of the 13 sites awarded garden grants this year:

School / Childcare Center School District / Location
Heritage Middle School Meridian Joint School District
Moscow Charter School Moscow Charter School
Kellogg Middle and Sunnyside Elementary Kellogg School District
Borah High School Boise School District
Fernan Elementary Coeur d’Alene School District
Parma Learning Center Parma School District
Troy Elementary Troy School District
Heritage Community Charter School Heritage Community Charter School
Little People’s Academy Idaho Falls
Tator Tots Childcare American Falls
Mountain Home Air Force Base Youth Programs Mountain Home
Valley Crises Center Nampa
Ms. Amy’s Daycare Fruitland

 Click here for more information.