The Elmore County Board of Education held its regular board meeting at Holtville Elementary School after touring the newly renovated dining facilities of the high school and performing a ribbon cutting for its Bulldog Café.

The process to renovate the cafeteria had been underway since the beginning of last year as part of an initiative to drive up the student use of its facilities at meal times.

The goal was to bring up participation rates to state levels, said Child Nutrition Program Specialist Cayce Davis.

The new cafeteria look was completed after a few delays in September, Davis said.

The renovated cafeteria looks strikingly different compared to the pictures of the old, what Davis called, more “institutional” look.

She said a student focus group was put together prior to the project and some of the changes suggested by the students were made.

There are now booths and high top tables as opposed to the uniform pew seating in the old cafeteria. Even trashcans were changed.

“They fight over the booths,” Davis said. “Because it’s much different than what you see in most school cafeterias.”

She said the idea was for the students to be proud of the space and to make it one they enjoyed being in.

Outside of the aesthetic differences, changes were made to staffing and to the menu.

“Between changing the environment we changed the staff a little bit so our customer service is better,” Davis said. “A lot of times people think, ‘Oh its just school lunch,’ but our students are our customers and they’re our number one priority.”

“The kids are here to learn and we’re here to complement what’s going on in the classroom and the more well-nourished they are the better they’re going to learn.”

Three items were approved at the meeting that followed the ribbon cutting, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent Jean Czerpak said.

A superintendent’s recommendation to implement a visitor management system by Raptor Technologies for $25,600 in its first year and following at an annual amount of $8,640 was approved.

Another recommendation for a $33,000 per year communication system using a “Remind” program was approved.

Lastly, a student expulsion was approved for a student called ABC-2018-2.