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The Frontier School District isn’t wasting any time delving into an intensive search for its next superintendent.

The School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved hiring School Leadership, a regional search firm, to lead its search to replace outgoing Superintendent James C. Bodziak, who is retiring in September.

The board also debated an expected shortfall in the 2013-14 food service budget and decided to boost the cost of all meals by 50 cents apiece, effective in September.

The board hired the Malverne-based consulting firm to head its search at a maximum cost of $18,500, in addition to related expenses.

It is the first time that Frontier – which has had an active turnover in superintendents over the last decade – has used the consulting firm in looking for a superintendent.

Board President Janet MacGregor Plarr afterward said that the firm’s strong networking relationships were a significant factor in Frontier’s decision to hire it. Retired Williamsville School Superintendent Howard Smith is an associate of the search firm.

“We also want a consulting firm that can dedicate its time to Frontier,” Plarr said.

Donald A. Ogilvie, district superintendent for Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services, was the other front-runner to be Frontier’s search consultant. Plarr noted how well-qualified Ogilvie is, but how full his plate is with regional educational issues in Buffalo and elsewhere.

The board plans to begin compiling key dates with the search consultant, probably as early as its 5 p.m. executive session Aug. 20, followed by its regular business meeting.

Newly hired interim Superintendent Paul G. Hashem attended Tuesday’s meeting.

In another matter, the board questioned the inhouse food department budget of $1.91 million that it approved. The big news emerging from warnings of fiscal shortfalls was the board’s decision that it had to raise breakfast and lunch prices at all of its schools by 50 cents, starting this fall.

The result means that school breakfasts will cost $1.75, with lunches at $2.50 at the elementary schools and $2.75 at the middle and high schools. The increase last year was 20 cents for lunches, but not breakfasts.

The board will review the food service budget in December to determine whether a second-semester increase of another 50 cents for lunches should be implemented.

If the district did not increase the cost of breakfast or lunches, it would face a $150,325 shortfall. With the 50-cent increase for the first semester, the shortfall would be $75,162. And if the district decides to continue with a second, 50-cent increase for lunches only in the second semester, the food service budget would be in the hole by $37,581.

Food Service Director Susan Birmingham and Business Manager Rick Calipari gave a detailed presentation on the food service operation’s budget, with Birmingham noting that she had cut $25,000 in labor costs for September.

“If we were to go further, I would not have enough pairs of hands to serve lunches and handle the cash register,” she said. “Our enrollment has been going down, and so have the number of meals we’re serving,” Birmingham said, also noting that food and repair costs always rise each year. “With this kind of a jump, we’ll lose some. You never get them all back.”

email: krobinson@buffnews.com