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School meals policy expands

MORE: Read more Spotsylvania County news

Spotsylvania County high school students whose lunch accounts have run dry will be offered “an alternative meal” of milk and a cheese sandwich, the School Board decided Monday night.

Previously, only students in elementary and middle schools were offered the alternative meal if they had reached their debt limit and had not brought lunch from home.

The board voted 6–1 to expand the policy to high schoolers, who simply didn’t eat if their lunch accounts were maxed out and parents neglected to provide a meal.

School Board member Ray Lora of the Livingston District cast the one dissenting vote after expressing concern that the issue should be tabled until new board members take office in January.

However, departing member Linda Wieland of the Battlefield District said the food service task force was unaware until a recent meeting that no alternative option was offered to high schoolers. She called the item “a correction to an oversight.”

School Board member Bill Blaine of the Salem District also called for an immediate vote rather than tabling the issue.

“This is a minor correction that we need to address immediately,” he said.

Spotsylvania Schools recently changed its meal-charging procedures after increasing debt from food service accounts became an issue.

Before April 2012, students accrued a debt of more than $105,000 by charging food items to maxed-out accounts, and the division risked dipping into its instructional funds to cover the difference.

Previously, students in the elementary and middle schools were allowed to charge an unlimited number of breakfasts and lunches after reaching a zero balance on their accounts. High school students could charge one lunch.

Ultimately, parents paid off those debts. Many simply hadn’t been aware of how much their children were charging to the meal accounts.

The new policy limits elementary students to charging five meals once their accounts hit zero. Middle school students can charge five lunches. High school students remain at one charge.

All students now have the option of having a cheese sandwich with milk if they’ve reached their debt limit and have no meal from home.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

 

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