Opportunity Exists to Add Cafeteria to Moharimet

Although the newest of Oyster River's two elementary schools, Moharimet is without a dedicated cafeteria. As a result, Moharimet provides lunch in the gymnasium causing a significant loss of instructional time for Physical Education (P.E.) and incredible overcrowding at lunchtime as the school currently attempts to feed 409 students in 75 minutes.

The impact on Physical Education at Moharimet cannot be overstated, as the gym cannot be used at the same time as lunch is being served. Moharimet students lose the opportunity for gym 1 hour and fifteen minutes per day, over one full day per week or nearly 20% less than the students at Mast Way. By comparison, Mast Way has a separate gym and cafeteria; Mast Way students are able to have P.E. more often. Compounding this dilemma is the fact that Moharimet now has 122 more students than Mast Way. This comes at a time when research supports increased physical activity for students to combat obesity.

The lack of a separate gymnasium and cafeteria also impacts lunchtime at Moharimet. Currently Moharimet has three lunch periods providing the students 25 minute lunch periods, an increase of five minutes per lunch over previous years, to account for the increased enrollment. Although the lunch times at Moharimet and Mast Way are the same, the number of students moving through lunch at the two schools is significantly different.

At the start of the 2013-14 school year, Mast Way had a total enrollment of 287 students while Moharimet has 409 students.

Moharimet 409 Students 3 Lunches of 25 Minutes 136+ per Lunch
Mast Way 287 Students 3 Lunches of 25 Minutes 95+ per Lunch

Moharimet students experience longer lines, students must 'speed eat', and the food service staff is under duress to serve food 'fast and furious.' As a result the climate at Moharimet and Mast Way are completely different at lunchtime.


The Local Government Center, the agent for our health insurance, ran into legal trouble several years ago, by using health insurance premiums to fund other enterprises. Schools and municipalities challenged the practice, and as a result, LGC was told to reimburse governmental clients or to provide a payment holiday. We received communication late in the summer that the proposed payment holiday is occurring in 2013-14. The total payment holiday for ORCSD is $688,555.03 of which a certain percentage belongs to employees and retirees.

I ask the Board to consider this one-time payment holiday be used as an opportunity to provide significant funding for the construction of a cafeteria at Moharimet. Normally construction projects are bonded over 20 years and in their entirety. This LGC payment holiday provides ORCSD a vehicle to fund a cafeteria for Moharimet with the LGC funds rather than ask District taxpayers.

I am requesting permission to explore adding a cafeteria addition to Moharimet. Such an addition would require voter approval even if bonding the project proves unnecessary.

Dr. James C. Morse Sr., Superintendent