I actually missed the July meeting (first time ever) but since the Board started recording and saving a copy of the digital record, it was only a matter of opening a file sent by email to listen in. I’m waiting to hear how much it would cost any citizen to do the same under a Freedom of Info Act request, hoping it turns out to be an easy way for anyone to catch up at their convenience.
You may know by now that there was a big discussion about unpaid lunch charges. I thought we’d left the controversy at cheese sandwiches in June, but it apparently took a turn toward the possibility of using a collection agency during the meeting in July.
I think it’s important to understand that all children are fed, and none of these unpaid charges involve students who qualify for free or reduced lunches. The only accounts affected belong to families who have enough income to pay for school lunches, or who haven’t filled out an application for assistance (and I’m assured we follow every lead to keep this number to a minimum). I’m also assured we keep parents well informed of any account balances due.
This year our unpaid lunch charges hover around $40,000. For one year. The first year I asked it was $46,000. Though the cafeteria loses this money during the year, they get it back from a payment out of the general school budget in the end.
My main suggestion (in June) was to try and prevent the debt in the first place. For example, by providing a cheese sandwich and apple to students carrying a significant balance, we reduce the cost of their food, and maybe the monotony of this single offering will prompt parents to settle accounts more often.
Before we take any action though, I think we should look for input from cafeteria workers, teachers, and anyone else who has first hand insight into the circumstances that create this situation.
The other main topic of discussion was about membership in the Virginia School Boards’ Association. I think good points were made both against and in favor of membership. I won’t go into it now since I wasn’t there to go on public record, but I have shared some opinions with the director of the VSBA.
There was very little discussion about the comments from the staff survey, the 2018 budget (closing in on a $700,000 carryover of LOCAL money), and how funds are shaping up for 2019.
I’ll let you know what I find out about listening to the recorded meetings. What a great way to pass the time on your daily commute!