School Lunch Policy and School Choice

As the town with the highest negative school lunch account balance in Tri-Town, Marion is the last of the three school districts to adopt a formal school lunch account policy, which the School Committee hopes will put an end to the excessive overdue balances of some Marion families.

Superintendent Doug White told the committee that one of the 63 overdue accounts is responsible for $310 of the outstanding $1,125.48.

Someone might think it a small amount of money to the district, commented Chairman Joseph Scott, “But overall, it adds up.”

The policy is similar to the one adopted by the ORR junior and high school, as well as by Rochester and Mattapoisett, except Marion will allow for up to seven meals charged, while the other schools allow up to five before an alternative lunch of either a cheese or peanut butter sandwich with milk is served for 50 cents.

“It will be enforced,” said White, “and we will move forward with it.”

The committee continued its discussion on possibly using donated funds to alleviate the financial burden of some of the overdue balances, which White said he looked into, saying, “Everything that I was able to find said that was acceptable.” He said the particular gift account from which they take the funding must fall within the parameters of the gift account’s designated purpose.

Committee member Jay Pateakos was concerned that paying off the overdue accounts would just enable those who have accrued the debt.

“I think there are options for people,” said Pateakos, referring to the free- and reduced-lunch program. “I think they need to take them.”

The committee hoped White could find a way to identify which of the families in arrears actually need assistance so the committee can pay off the accounts.

Someone suggested looking into whether any of the 21 students who were recently approved for free lunches might be one of the accounts overdue.

“I’d be more inclined to release the funds for that,” said Pateakos.

In other news, the committee chose to not participate in the school choice program next year after factoring in current class sizes and amount of staff. White told the committee the district is not set up for school choice at this time.

“I think it’s important that we maintain our current status,” said Scott.

Also during the meeting, White said he met with the CFO of the YMCA regarding a request to add signage around the Sippican School specific to the YMCA to indicate that the organization holds an after-school program at the site. The committee agreed to allow limited signs in the parking area and behind the school.

The committee approved a number of special education budget transfers from different line items within the SpEd budget.

The next meeting of the Marion School Committee will be June 4 at 6:30 pm at the Marion Town House.

By Jean Perry


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