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Meal ticket

KCSD working to keep lunch prices down

Posted: July 5, 2011 4:48 p.m.
Updated: July 6, 2011 5:00 a.m.

The Kershaw County School District (KCSD) may transfer some $5,000 from the district’s general reserve fund to food service operations in order to keep lunch prices down this coming school year.

KCSD Chief Financial Officer Donnie Wilson asked members of the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees’ facilities and finance committees to consider the transfer during a meeting Thursday evening.

Wilson said the school district has been fighting new federal regulations requiring administrators to raise school meal prices -- despite the fact the school district’s food service program is self-sustaining and does not rely on the general fund.

“We’ve drafted letters and memos ready to go to the state, we’ve talked to people over there, we’ve talked to people in Washington,” Wilson said. “But, in essence, what they’re saying is that we cannot allow our meal prices to be -- for kids who pay -- lower any longer than the federal reimbursement rate on the mill.”

In other words, Wilson added, the federal government reimbursement for a KCSD student who receives free lunches has exceeded “what a paying student pays.”

“Now, we’re in a dilemma -- and this is what we’ve been pleading with the state about. How can we, especially now, ask the parents to pay more money for the school meals when we don’t need it in that program?” asked Wilson.

For the 2010-11 fiscal year, the difference was a penny per mill, Wilson said. For the current fiscal year, the increase will be an estimated 10 cents because the federal government has raised its reimbursement rates.

“Now, we have found a way to make this happen for one more year, where we will not have to do a price increase. At first, the amount that we were talking about was about $600 that we could fund from the general fund to food service and we wouldn’t have to raise it,” Wilson said. “Well, they’ve gone back and looked at it after we proposed it … and they came up with another number … and the other number now is $4,932. And that basically is a penny a mill.”

Wilson suggested the board move $4,932 from the general fund reserve to food service -- a move that will keep the district in compliance with federal regulations without requiring parents to pay additional money for their children’s school lunches this year.

“But we have to actually show that on our books we did that,” he said. “And then we can avoid, for one more year at least, having to increase mills to parents at a really bad time to be doing that.”

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