Superintendent David Cash on Monday night told the Pawhuska Board of Education he is dropping a policy requirement that students pay a $50 deposit in order to take home their Chromebook computers.


Cash explained he had met a student who said her family had been unable to afford the $50, and that inability to take home her computer resulted in severe academic difficulty. The new superintendent of Pawhuska Public Schools, who has emphasized his desire to remove obstacles to student success, said the policy is being eliminated.


Cash also recommended Monday that the board of education accept Opaa! Food Management, a Missouri company that specializes in providing meals for Pre-K to 12 school districts, as the district’s food service vendor.


Opaa! now provides food service for more than 260 school districts in seven states, according to Business Development Associate Bruce Chrz (pronounced “Hers”).


The superintendent and Byron Cowan, principal of Pawhuska Elementary School, told board members that bidders for the food service contract had been systematically evaluated based on criteria established before bids were solicited. Cash said he anticipates a dramatic improvement in the quality of food served to students.


“You will see a stark difference in the quality of food,” he said. Due to procedural requirements, Opaa! will not be able to take over immediately, and when it does take over, the company will initially have to serve the pre-existing menu for 21 school days, Cash said. After that, Opaa! will be able to implement its own program, which includes a very good salad bar component, Cash said.


In other business Monday, the board of education voted to increase substitute teacher pay from $60 a day to $70. Cash said the district has had trouble attracting subs.


“The bottom line is it’s hard to find subs, and it’s really hard to find them for $60 a day,” he said.


The new superintendent also recommended changes to the board of education’s policy regarding public comments during meetings. Cash described the existing comment policy as “really open-ended” and lacking in details about the obligations of speakers. He cautioned the board that persons offering public comments should not be permitted to make remarks about specific students or staff members, about situations where there is pending litigation and about situations that are being investigated.