School lunch price to increase

District 50 Jt. students opting for hot lunches at school will see a 25-cent increase in the price of those lunches starting January, 2009.

The decision to raise the price, made by the Archuleta County School District 50 Joint board at its Tuesday night meeting, reflects an increase in per-plate costs for the district relative to what the state reimburses for school lunches.

According to a report presented to the board by food service coordinator Charlotte Lee, “In order to keep the salad bar and leave the price of breakfasts the same price, we need to raise (the price of) lunches by twenty-five cents. Our per plate costs are higher than what the state pays.”

Lee said that she had sought out the services of other food distributors in an attempt to find lower prices, but to no avail.

District business manager Janell Wood added that the 25-cent increase would raise an additional $12,500 during the school year — or about $6,250 from January to May — and, with $20,000 transferred from the district’s general fund into food service costs, “The district would just about break even,” Wood said.

Wood pointed out that some districts automatically raise their meal prices every two years and that it had been several years since the district had raised its own prices on meals.

Both Lee and Wood additionally stated that the food service department would cut some of the hours of food service workers to help keep costs low.

District superintendent Mark DeVoti said that another solution for keeping meal prices low would be to “Encourage parents to look at free and reduced lunches and fill out the forms.”

The district receives government funds for students qualifying to receive free or reduced lunches. Applications for the program can be downloaded at www.pagosa.k12.co.us/food%20service/home or picked up from any area school front desk. Once filled out, the applications can be returned to school or dropped off at the district’s offices at 309 Lewis St.

Following a report on the financial audit by Wood (showing the district in good financial shape), DeVoti announced that, as part of the October federal bailout, the county was able to pass on $460,000-$500,000 per year to the school district, for the next five years (see related article on Page 1). DeVoti said that the funds would go into the districts reserves, “Since we don’t know if or how long the funding will last.”

The district board also decided to pursue the creation of a School/Community Prevention Coordinator. Anna Royer, from the Health and Wellness Committee, presented the proposal for the position, stating that the coordinator would be responsible for supporting the implementation of a comprehensive evidence-based health program addressing “risky behaviors in school-age children in regard to substance abuse and sexual behavior.”

The district is currently looking into instituting such a program, in response to results of the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey released in August. Board member Sandy Caves said, “I’m impressed with how quickly you came up with this in response to the results of the survey.”

For her part, Royer said, “It’s a privilege to work with a district that is so supportive and responsive to the data.”

With the boards blessings granted Tuesday, the district will pursue grants for the position and if the grants are in place by December, the district should be able to hire for the position in January.

Aside from coordinating presentation of curriculum in classrooms and monitoring success of the program, whoever fills the position will be responsible for getting grants to sustain the position.

In presenting the BOCES report, Ken Fox reported that the merger with Pueblo Community College and the San Juan Basin Technical College continues to gain steam. If the merger goes through, it would be a post-secondary educational resource for area students looking to pursue a trade or career after high school. People interested in the possible merger and what it would mean for the region are encouraged to attend an open house Friday, Nov. 14, at the Pagosa Springs Community Center, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

jim@pagosasun.com