The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 Board approves increase in cost of meals
By Seth Hancock
If approved by the Board of Education in School District U-46, breakfast and lunch prices will increase for some students but not because of market forces but rather government regulations.
For full-paying students the change for breakfast would be from $1.25 to $1.35 (national average is $1.60), lunch from $2.65 to $2.80 (national average is $2.75) and milk from 40 cents to 50 cents (national average is 45 cents) as presented on Monday, Feb. 22. For reduced priced students the fee will remain flat at 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch, and the board will vote on the change at its meeting on Monday, March 7.
“The last time we’ve increased the price was about two years ago and actually every year we should revisit increasing the price due to federal regulations,” said Claudie Phillips, director of food and nutrition services.
According to the proposal, Section 205 of the federal Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act requires districts to charge the paying customers “more equal with funds brought in from free and reduced-price meal requirements” if the district takes part in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
Phillips said the district currently receives $3.15 in reimbursement for every free meal and 37 cents for paid meals. According to federal calculations, the recommended fee is at least $2.78.
Board member Jeanette Ward asked: “To clarify then, the rationale is that the law requires us to at least get close to the amount that we’re reimbursed by the federal government for those receiving free and reduced… and it doesn’t require us to match it but at least come close, some percentage of it?”
Phillips said that was correct. In July of last year, the administration painted an unflattering picture of the NSLP saying that guidelines of what can and must be served to students has caused an increased food waste and an increase in costs, Jeff King, chief Operations officer, saying “our cost for food went up significantly… several million dollars” over the past few years yet the district has continued to take part in the program funded by the nation’s taxpayers.
The board will also vote on over $400,000 in proposed expenditures on March 7.
The four bid proposals include one for $149,868, paid out of the education fund, with the College Board in order to provide the first Advanced Placement exam for a student for free.
The proposal said that U-46 expects to provide 1,629 total free exams and Terri Lozier, assistant superintendent, said 3,300 exams in total. Board member Sue Kerr asked “how many years have we been” providing a free exam to which Lozier said this was the third year, and she said the exams cost $92 each.
Allison Holloway, the student advisor on the board, said: “This is a huge help for students in following our mission statement to be a great place for students to learn.”
A proposal for $133,020, also paid out of the education fund, for a three-year contract with Global Datebooks to provide staff and student planners at the secondary level. The district expects to purchase 24,500 planners each year through the length of the contract.
Both Ward and Kerr asked about potentially moving towards an electronic version rather than the paper copy.
Ward asked: “I understand the need might be there for students, but in the future maybe it would cut expenses if we could move to more electronic planners?”
Kerr said: “I would agree with Jeanette that we need to start looking into 21st-century technology.”
Lozier said that “not everyone has a cell phone” and the district is not at one-to-one with technology, and Holloway said “personally a lot of my friends and I still use” the paper copy for its ease of use and because technology is “encouraged to be put away” during class time.
Kerr and Ward both found the student perspective useful, Ward saying: “Thanks for that comment. That is helpful and a good point.”
The board’s youngest member, Cody Holt, said he “was a student in the district not too long ago” and “I used to have one of these that I used to lug around with all my books. I know personally I found it helpful when I was a student to be able to put in homework assignments, dates for certain deadlines and things like that.”
There were two proposals from the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department, both to be paid for through a federal Perkins grant, including $52,995 with Iverson and Company to purchase two gear head engine lathes and $72,150 with JBH Technologies to purchase a Speedy 300 Flexx Laser Cutter/Engraver, both proposals being for Streamwood High School’s precision manufacturing program.
The board recently approved a CTE audit and board member Traci Ellis asked if the “purchases are necessary regardless” of the outcome of the audit, and Kinasha Brown, CTE coordinator, said they were.
Under the second CTE proposal, board member Phil Costello noted that JBH Technologies was the lone bidder. Rickey Sparks, director of Business Services, said that while that was the lone bid, six companies downloaded the application.
At the Feb. 22 meeting, the board unanimously approved the applications for building permits for the additions to be built at three U-46 elementary schools. It also unanimously approved $9.2 million in itemized bills.