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Students at Campbellsville Independent Schools won’t have to pay a dime for their breakfast or lunch this coming school year.
At Monday night’s regular Campbellsville School Board meeting, Jeff Richardson, food services director, announced that because enough of the District’s students now qualify for free lunches, the District can participate in a program that will allow the entire student population to receive free breakfasts and lunches. The news was followed by applause from Board members.
Richardson told Board members that eligibility to participate in the program is based on the number of students who qualify for Medicaid, food stamps and other types of government assistance.
He said 55 percent of Campbellsville’s students qualify for free lunches. When a student qualifies for that benefit, the District receives $2.79 for each lunch.
When using a federal reimbursement formula, he said, the District will actually receive the full $2.79 reimbursement for 88 percent of its students.
For the remaining 12 percent of students, Richardson said, the District will receive a federal reimbursement of 25 cents for each.
Since the District will be receiving full reimbursement for 88 percent of its nearly 1,100 students, Richardson said, the District can choose to waive the cost of lunches for the remaining 12 percent if it believes that is feasible.
Richardson said he believes having free breakfasts and lunches will encourage more students to eat, which will mean the District will receive more reimbursement.
Richardson told Board members that the District will try to get about 200 more students to eat breakfast to receive more funding. And now that the meals are free, he said he believes that won’t be a problem.
Superintendent Mike Deaton said breakfasts were provided free last school year during testing. Richardson said the District saw a large jump in the number of students who ate breakfast during that time.
Richardson said school workers will research providing a “grab and go” breakfast for high school students that can be eaten in the classroom or gymnasium. He said that might make more cleaning for custodians, however.
“Getting a free meal outweighs that,” he said.
Richardson said having free breakfast and lunch will help students who were struggling to afford paying for them.
“Some of our kids, it’s the best meal they get all day.”
On Tuesday, Richardson said research shows that students who eat healthy meals perform and learn better.
He said Campbellsville Schools has never offered its entire student body free breakfast and lunch before. Monroe County participated in the program last year, he said, and reported that it worked well. The program began last year in three states, including Kentucky.
Board member Angie Johnson said having free meals will help parents save time in no longer having to prepare meals as well as saving the cost of groceries to make those meals.
Richardson said it will also help those who were embarrassed to ask for their free meals because now all students will be equal.
He said the District will continue to sell a la cart items in its lunch rooms for those who would like to purchase extra items.
Board Vice Chair Suzanne Wilson asked if providing the free meals will be for only the upcoming school year.
Richardson said the District can offer the meals for this coming school year but has the option to continue the program.
He said the District’s eligibility will be based on the number of students who qualify for free and reduced lunches. He said he anticipates that the District’s number will continue to increase.
Opening day for Campbellsville Independent students is Aug. 2.
Board member Mitch Overstreet is on vacation and did not attend Monday’s meeting.
The academic spotlight was on the Campbellsville Family Resource and Youth Services Center.
Coordinator Sue Crabtree told Board members that she was recently told schools will soon be charged $10 for each background check for those who want to volunteer with school systems. She said she submitted about 100 requests before the deadline to help save the District money.
Crabtree said the District’s backpack food program cost is increasing. She showed Board members a sampling of the food students in the program typically receive, which includes a box of crackers, noodles, vegetables, juices, pudding and more.
The program provides food for students who have enough to eat while at school, but may not have enough on the weekends.
Crabtree said the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office wants to do a shop with a cop program to help Campbellsville students get clothing and school supplies for the upcoming school year.
Crabtree spoke about a workplace readiness program that provides free workers to area businesses with grant funding. She said the program gives local students work experience and provides businesses with free help.
Crabtree said members of the Sawtooth Sisters Quilt Guild have made some quilts for students in the District who have babies.
Also at the meeting:
• Deaton reported that custodians and maintenance workers are cleaning and doing some upgrades to the District’s school buildings to prepare for the upcoming school year.
• Deaton said the District ended its fiscal year with about $120,000 more than expected. He said the new school year will begin with $2,083,595.81.
• Southern Foods was awarded the bid to provide food for the District for the upcoming school year.
• Board members approved the code for acceptable behavior and discipline handbook.
• A United Way funding application was approved. Deaton said the District is eligible for $2,200 to help pay for students’ clothing, school supplies and Junior Guard costs.
• One mandatory and three flex professional development days were approved for the upcoming school year.
• The District’s preschool calendar was approved.
• Chandler’s was awarded the office supply bid for the upcoming school year.
• Green County Board of Education and Orthodyne were awarded the occupational and physical therapy bids for the upcoming school year, respectively.
• School therapy services and business associates agreements with The Adanta Group were approved for the upcoming school year.
• The Board approved Kentucky School Board Association procedures and had first reading of its policies.
• The Board met in closed session for about a half hour to discuss personnel and pending litigation. No action was taken.
• New employees — Ben Davis, CHS English teacher; Blake Milby, CHS social studies teacher; Melinda Parrott, adult education administrative assistant; David Payne, adult education instructor; Kayla Stockton, CMS science teacher.
• Resigned/retired employees — Terry Brewer, technology computer education teacher; Jay Cobb, CEA director/CHS assistant principal/head football coach; Tony Houston, bus driver; Christy Parks, CES special education teacher; Scott Parks, preschool coordinator/CES director/sixth-grade boys basketball coach; Shannon Sparksman, school psychologist.