May 29, 2012 — Under a federally-mandated requirement to bridge the gap between paid lunch costs and what the district receives in federal reimbursements for free and reduced lunch, the Rowan County Board of Education voted to increase student lunch prices from $1.80 to $1.85.
“We really have no other choice,” said Glen Teager, food services director. “All schools participating in the National School Lunch Program must follow the guidelines of the ‘Equity in School Lunch Pricing’ provision.”
The formula compares the average price charged for lunches served to students not eligible for free or reduced price lunches (students who pay for lunches), to the difference between the higher federal reimbursement provided for free lunches and the lower federal reimbursement provided for “paid lunches.”
“We currently receive $2.77 in federal reimbursement per free lunch provided,” Teager said. “The district receives 26 cents in federal reimbursement for lunches that are paid for by students.”
With the five cent increase, the school will receive $2.11 for a “paid lunch” ($1.85 paid by the student plus 26 cents of reimbursement); still 66 cents below the reimbursement amount for qualifying students who receive free lunch.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said research indicates the average prices charged for paid lunches are less than the cost of producing those lunches.
The gradual increase in price for paid lunches would bridge the gap and eventually match the difference between the cost of the meal and the paid federal reimbursement when compared to reimbursement for free and reduced lunches.
“Any overage stays within the food services fund to be used for continual upgrades throughout the district cafeterias,” said Teager.
The increase is still below what most counties close to Rowan charge for students who pay for their lunches. In the 2011-2012 school year Fayette County charged $2.10, Shelby County $1.95, Kenton County $2.25, Montgomery County $1.75 and Fleming County $1.50, after a 25-cent raise was mandated this year.
Board member Bill Redwine said his resounding “no” vote was based on principle.
“No one making these decisions consulted the individual districts as to whether we actually needed this increase,” he said. “But they went ahead and mandated it across the board.”
Members Brian Riddle, Brian Wallace and Chairman Larry Coldiron voted yes on the increase. Member Danny Mabry was absent.
“There is no way around this increase,” Riddle said.
In other business Monday, the board approved continuing its package of property, fleet, general liability, worker’s compensation and educator’s legal liability insurance through KSBIT at a cost of $412,190.69 for the 2012-2013 school year.
“This is a $36,000 increase from last year,” said Supt. Marvin.
The board approved certified, classified and supplemental salary schedules noting there were no raises to be given at this time.
“Budget cuts have left us no opportunity to offer raises, even though I feel all of the district employees are deserving of one,” Moore said.
Kim Bandura can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 784-4116.