Meals At Schools Going Up 25 Cents

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Parents will have to add an extra quarter a day to their children's lunch money in 1999.

The Payson School Board voted 4-0 Monday to increase student meal prices 25 cents to cover the district's cafeteria costs. Retiring board member Jimmy Connolly left the meeting before the vote was taken.

Right now, K-5 students pay 50 cents for full-price breakfasts and $1 for full-price lunches. Students in grades six through 12 pay $1.25 for full-price lunches.

Students who qualify for the district's free meal program will not be affected by the increase, but students who qualify for the district's reduced-price meal program will see a rise in their bills.

District Business Manager Bobette Sylvester, who told the board she had not analyzed the reduced-price meal structure, could not say how much more those students will have to pay when the new rates go into effect Jan. 1.

"Right now, school breakfast is the best value in town," board member Kristi Ford said, adding that her own children eat school meals. "Even with the increase, you can't beat it. I can't beat it anymore by making breakfast at home.

"But in the interest of those in town who are struggling financially, I would prefer to go with the smallest increase we can get away with."

During the past few years, the cafeteria operation has lost between $24,000 and $32,000 a year due to increased operation costs and needed equipment expenditures, Sylvester said. An increase of 25 cents a meal will boost the district's cafeteria revenues to about $28,900 and an increase of 30 cents a meal will boost revenues to $34,000 a year.

The board approved the lesser of the two proposed increases, but will review the district's cafeteria budget again in the spring. If the operation is still not self-sufficient at that time, the board will consider raising prices again.

In other business, the board approved 4-0:

  • Payson School Superintendent Russ Kinzer's resignation, to be effective June 30.
  • The addition of an additional math class -- Applied Mathematics II -- to the Payson High School curriculum. Students are required to complete two math courses of their choice for graduation. Applied Mathematics I and II give students an alternative to general math and standard algebra and geometry classes.
  • The addition of three new mini-course electives -- Survival Skills, Your Money and Handbells/Chimes -- to the Rim Country Middle School curriculum.
  • A new middle school tardy policy aimed at reducing the number of students who are habitually late for school.

This year, 1,500 students have been late to class, Principal Frank Larby said. "One set of kids was late 39 out of 72 days and brought an excuse every day."

Right now, all students need for an excused tardy is a note from their parents, he said. This new policy narrowly defines an excused tardy as a delay to class caused by a medical, legal or dental appointment, consultation with school staff or an emergency.

Students who are late for other reasons, even if they have a note from their parents, will receive an unexcused tardy.

Students who are late three times without a legitimate excuse will be referred to the principal and given disciplinary points for the year.

  • The district's 1999-2000 school calendar which includes an extra half-day off the day before Thanksgiving to give families more time to safely travel, and a full day off the day before Christmas to give teachers time to perform required administrative duties.

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