School store more than just a retail establishment

Fiscus: Store also provides valuable learning tool

LEWISTOWN — In response to a recent board member request into the inner workings of the Mifflin County High School Student Store, advisers and students who operate the facility were on hand at Thursday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting of the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors to provide an overview.

Co-Advisers Melody Hassinger and Erica Monsell brought two current and one former student who have extensive experience working in the school store to answer board member questions, one of which was regarding if the facility be open longer hours to allow greater access to the public. Hassinger said with the holiday season approaching, the store will have extended hours on certain evenings, usually coinciding with home sporting events. Beyond that, she said the store is open daily during the days school is in session, manned by student volunteers. Having enough help for longer hours presents logistical problems, especially with students who have buses to catch, she said.

However, in the 21st century, Hassinger said school stores are quite a bit different than they were years ago.

“We are not the old-time sell a few candy bars and t-shirt and we’re done,” Hassinger explained. “Every sale, from clubs, organizations and groups, goes through the student store.” Hassinger said the store does charge a fee to outside organizations wishing to utilize the school logo on a wide variety of items. Forms requesting the use of the logo are available on the store website, Hassinger added. She said she is in charge of all billing in those areas.

The logo fee is only for outside organizations, she stressed. “If it’s our kids, Spanish Club, Spirit Club, sports or whatever, we don’t charge our own kids,” Hassinger noted. All monies collected from the logo fee go into a logo fund, which is administered by Chief Financial Officer Autumn Fiscus, who said that money is funneled back to the students in the form of new uniforms for sports teams, etc.

As well as raising funds, Hassinger said the student store is a valuable learning tool for those who get involved. “We operate as a business,” she said. “We teach them everything they need to know about running a business.”

One of the students on hand Thursday was Taylor Boozel, a 2017 MCHS graduate, who noted, “We were taught how to successfully manage a retail store. That opportunity has greatly benefitted me. I’m currently the concessions manager for the Husky Club. I learned many skills through my internship at the student store. Business is a career field that I love. I’m in the process of opening my own business. Without that opportunity I would not be as confident as I am in pursuing these endeavors.”

Hassinger stressed the importance of knowing the student store is not in the business of making money for the district.

“Any monies we make by law cannot be spent on anything but our kids,” she reiterated.

As for inventory, the student volunteers on hand, Heather Stricker and Clayton Stumpff, said they go around the school and ask for feedback from students as to what sort of merchandise they would be interested in buying if the school were to offer them. It’s usually done by trial and error, they said.

Hassinger said the store tries to stock a wide variety of merchandise. “Every year it’s like a work in progress,” she stated. “The kids do a great job.”

In other business Thursday, Vance Varner, director of secondary education, announced the district is planning to implement a Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) prep course shortly for those senior high school students who wish additional help preparing for the spring testing period. Varner said the course would be mostly on-line and be available to any student wishing to take advantage. “This is pretty neat stuff,” Varner said. “And it’s free to our kids.”

Also on Thursday, the board held a brief discussion on the following agenda items slated for a vote at the Nov. 16 business meeting:

¯ Consideration of a request by the Friends of Mifflin County Library and the Lewistown Community Band to waive the $500 facility use fee at the middle school auditorium for a fundraising concert to be held April 12, 2018. The friends would still be responsible to pay for event staff fees estimated at $150.

¯ The addition of Kody Moist as a van driver for J&D’s Inc.

¯ Approval of the 2017-18 daily contracted rate comparison for student transportation.

¯ The hiring of Zachery Knepp as a full-time custodian at the middle school effective Nov. 22.

¯ The hiring of Caleb Beers as a full-time custodian at the high school effective Nov. 22.

¯ The resignation of Carley Lynch, confidential secretary to the superintendent, effective Nov. 1.

¯ The hiring of Rebecca Rhoades and Rebecca Nixdorf as cafeteria substitutes effective Nov. 29.

¯ The addition of Matthew Reed to the 2017-18 event staff.

¯ Approval of the following volunteer coaches: Richard Gingrich, girls basketball; and Matthew Eddy, indoor track and field.