At the April 10 meeting of the Thomaston-Upson County Board of Education, a unanimous vote approved an increase to the price of fully paid school meals. For the 2012-2013 school term, lunch prices will rise by 25 cents at all local schools, with elementary students paying $1.25, middle school students paying $1.50 and high school students coming in at $1.75.
According to Director of School Nutrition Shelly Daniel, the price increase was mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a federal law that requires School Food Authorities to ensure schools are providing the same level of support for lunches served to students who pay full price as is provided to those who qualify for free or reduced price meals.
Daniel said the Georgia Department of Education indicated to local officials that paid meal prices must increase to equal a weighted average price for $1.30. This figure represents the disparity between the price previously charged for a meal, as opposed to its actual cost.
At the core of the price increase is the reimbursement the school system receives for reduced price and free meals. For each student that receives a free meal, the system is reimbursed $2.79, its actual cost. For reduced meals that are purchased for only 40 cents, the system receives $2.39. The school system also receives reimbursement for students who pay full price for their meals, but that amount is only 28 cents.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act requires that school systems nationwide increase the purchase price of the full price meals to bring them in line with the amount of reimbursement distributed for the free and reduced price meals.
“The School Nutrition program is not for-profit. This is just the cost of the meal,” Daniel said. She went on to say that the price increase will not affect those students eligible for the free and reduced price meals, which accounts for approximately 70 percent of students within the Thomaston-Upson County School System. In March, the school system served a total of 43,324 breakfasts, and 78,678 lunches were served.
Despite the price increase, local students will continue to pay less than other school systems, including those in Spalding, Pike and Lamar counties.
In additional action, Board of Education members voted unanimously to revise the Administrative Regulations to BOE Policies JCDAB (Student Alcohol Use) and JCDAC (Student Drug Use). The punishment for a student violating either of these policies for the first time was changed from a minimum of sixty days to a minimum of ninety day assignment at the alternative school or ninety days out of school suspension. The punishment for student sale or distribution of drugs was changed from expulsion for a length of time determined by the tribunal to expulsion for a minimum of one year.
“It’s a zero-tolerance to drugs and alcohol,” said Superintendent Dr. Maggie Shook, who recommended the board approve the change.