By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
“When I came to Little Falls, I was a bit chagrined to learn the cost of lunches for our students as compared to other neighboring schools,” said Supt. Stephen Jones Monday night. “Business Manager Nancy Henderson and I did some research and found the district was using the Minnesota Department of Education’s policies to ascertain the cost of lunches to the students.”
The district is required to keep in line with the Federal Hunger Free Kids Act and was under the impression it had to raise its prices to be in compliance. Districts are required to increase lunch pricing in proportion with federal reimbursement rates and therefore ensure federal reimbursements.
Little Falls knew it had to comply with the law, but through a miscalculation, the district raised the prices for the 2012-13 school year when it was not necessary.
Jones said school districts are in a competitive market with open enrollment and Little Falls needs to keep its prices in line with area schools.
Little Falls Community High School prices will decrease 10 cents from $2.65 to $2.55. The Little Falls Community Middle School’s lunch prices will decrease five cents from $2.50 to $2.45. The Elementary schools will also see a drop. Lunch prices will decrease 10 cents from $2.40 to $2.30.
Director Brad Laager said that this news is wonderful, positive news for our families.
“They will be spending less on lunches now,” he said.
Jones also encouraged families to sign up for free or reduced meals.
“Information on the price reduction and free and reduced meals will be posted on the Little Falls Web site,” he said.
Go to www.lfalls.k12.mn.us/ for more information.
Little Falls School Board briefs
Other business conducted by the Little Falls School Board Monday night included:
• Learning there may be approximately 10 percent more in cuts from federal funding unless the United States Congress passes a plan of budget cuts and tax increases totaling $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. If the cuts occur, the money may or may not be reinstated in the future. “This issue is tied directly to Congress’ approach to the Bush-era tax cuts. If the legislators do not address the cuts which are scheduled to expire in January 2013, across-the-board federal cuts are set to occur,” said Supt. Stephen Jones.
• Voting to increase the rate of pay for long-term (more than 30 consecutive days) substitute teachers from $120 to $140 per day. Information will be brought forward at a future meeting on whether the pay will be retroactive to the first 30 days;
• Voting to add a kindergarten teacher to Lindbergh Elementary School due to 33 new student registrations. Without the new hire, classes would consist of 23-24 students and the district would prefer to keep the kindergarten classes at 18 students;
• Voting to approve the 2011-14 custodial master agreement. The two-year package would show a 5.64 percent increase in wages and the three-year package showed a 7.95 percent increase. For 2011-12, the total package of wages and benefits increased 0.14 percent, for 2012-13, the total package increased 5.5 percent and in 2013-14, the increase came to 2.31 percent;
• Voting to set up a School Board Candidate Forum (date to be announced) with the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce to possibly moderate. Jones invited school board candidates to attend the September and October board meetings and said he would meet with each one, give tours of the district and answer their questions;
• Learning the district had two obsolete school buses that Jones said were not worth more than $600 apiece and would probably not pass inspection. He will bring more information to the September School Board meeting concerning purchasing another bus; and
• Voting to set the truth and taxation meeting for Monday, Dec. 17, at 6 p.m. during the regularly scheduled board meeting to be held at the Morrison County Government Center;
• Scheduling a Board retreat for Monday, Sept. 10, at 7:30 a.m. at the Little Falls Community High School;
• Hearing a report from Jones that a study will take place by the state and the district on how Finland has completely remade (taking 40 years) their education system and is currently the top system in the world.
The next School Board meeting will be held at the Morrison County Government Center Monday, Sept. 17, beginning at 5:30 p.m.