Schools to end free breakfast for some students
By Sarah Nagem
Despite some school board members’ concerns, six schools in the Rowan-Salisbury School System that offer free breakfast to all students are ending the program.
Elizabeth Koontz, Hanford-Dole, HD Isenberg and North Rowan elementary schools and Knox and North Rowan middle schools are the only schools that have had universal breakfast.
The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education heard an explanation for the program’s end Monday evening.
“We lose money by offering free breakfast to paying students,” said Libby Post, child nutrition director for the school system.
The program cost $132,000 to operate last school year, Post said. Rising food and labor costs are straining the nutrition department’s budget, she said.
Now, students at the schools who do not qualify for free or discounted meals will pay 90 cents for breakfast. Students who qualify for discounted meals will pay 30 cents.
Those who qualify for free meals will still be able to eat breakfast for free.
School board member Jean Kennedy said she wasn’t thrilled about cutting the program.
“All of us know the importance of nutrition as far as achievement is concerned,” Kennedy said.
“I’m bothered by this, that’s all.”
Especially while the economy is sagging, board member Karen Carpenter said, schools need to inform parents about free and discounted lunch.
As more people get laid off from their jobs, she said, more families who weren’t eligible for free or discounted meals before will likely become eligible.
“Systemwide, we really need to encourage parents to apply, especially at those six schools,” Post said.
A free-breakfast program was put in place at those schools partly due to high percentages of students there who qualify for free or discounted meals, she said.
“It is really going to be a difficult year for child nutrition,” Post said.
Also during the board meeting Monday:
– The school board voted unanimously to allow Jesse C. Carson High School to offer credits toward graduation for the CATS program.
CATS, which stands for Character, Achievement, Teamwork and Success, is a 20-minute program students participate in every day.
To start earning credits for the course, the class time will jump to 25 minutes a day, said Henry Kluttz, principal at Carson.
Earning two CATS credits during a four-year span will help some students who are on the brink of graduation but lack only a couple of credits, Kluttz said.
The program was designed as a teacher/student adviser program, and it focuses on things like leadership, character education, time management and goal-setting.
“I think it’s helping us as far as being advocates for kids,” Kluttz said.
He said that because of the program, he sees fewer students in his office for discipline problems.
Carpenter said she hopes other Rowan County high schools implement a similar program.
“I think this has excellent potential in terms of dropout prevention,” she said.
– The board voted to implement a school-uniform policy at Hanford-Dole Elementary.
Students must wear any color polo shirt that has short or long sleeves. They can wear khaki, navy blue or black pants.
The school conducted a phone poll among families, said Dr. Ron Turbyfill, principal at Hanford-Dole.
Of those polled, Turbyfill said, 109 people said they wanted a uniform policy at the school, compared to 68 who said they did not. Seventy-nine people did not respond.
Board chairman Dr. Jim Emerson was the only board member who voted against the proposal.
“I’m not a uniform-policy person,” Emerson said.
He said such policies require school leaders to spend too much time “counting buttons” and checking shoes.
– The gym at China Grove Middle School has a name.
The school board voted unanimously to name the gym after Donald W. Bost, the school’s principal who retired this school year.
Hundreds of people signed a petition to name the gym after Bost.
– Isenberg Elementary School has a new principal.
Nathan Currie will take the school’s top job Sept. 1. Currie is currently the interim director of middle schools and special programs for Duplin County schools.
He was an assistant principal at North Rowan Middle from 2005-2007. He was a fifth-grade teacher at Hanford Dole Elementary from 1999-2005.
Currie earned a master’s degree from the University of Phoenix in Charlotte. He earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Livingstone College.