School lunch prices go up

08/11/2014 9:37 PM

08/11/2014 9:39 PM

Mansfield trustees didn’t want to do it, but last week they raised prices for all school meals during a called meeting Aug. 5.

The school board had tabled the motion at its regular meeting July 22, but faced a hit to the district’s general fund if it didn’t approve the increase in meal prices, which ranged from 25 cents to 50 cents per meal.

“Ten cents of the fees was to meet USDA requirements for the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act that requires us to raise paid meal prices to what we get for free students,” said Gaylan Mathis, director of student nutrition. “This year it’s $2.98.”

Another reason for the increase was due to higher food prices, Mathis said.

“Some have gone up 10 to 15 percent,” he said. “Citrus fruit will be up 21 percent.

“Another reason is all of our breakfasts have to have a half order of fruit, now mandated just like at lunch,” Mathis said. “There are no USDA funds for that item.”

All students breakfasts will go from $1.25 to $1.50, while adult and visitor breakfasts will rise from $1.55 to $2. Lunches prices will increase from $2.25 to $2.50 for elementary students, $2.25 to $2.75 for intermediate students, $2.50 to $2.75 for middle school students, $2.50 to $3 for high school students, $3 to $3.50 for a high school student extreme meal and $3.15 to $3.50 for adult and visitor lunches.

Trustees also revisited the new federal Smart Snacks requirements, which impose stricter rules what the district can serve and what PTA and booster clubs can sell as fund-raisers during school hours. The school board had even asked district officials what it would cost to opt out of the National School Lunch Program, and learned that it would be a $17,603,386 hit to the general fund.

“We cannot go away from the federal lunch program,” said board member Beth Light. “As far as Smart Snacks, you need to contact your legislators.”

The USDA left it up to each state to decide if they wanted to continue to allow “exempt” days, times when schools could sell non-nutritious meals or snacks. Texas, which had allowed three exempt days, chose not to allow any free days. Mansfield elementaries had used the exempt days for holiday parties and for field days, when students could earn special treats sold by the PTAs. Other fund-raising snacks that the PTA sells during the school day also have to meet the Smart Snack guidelines.

Mathis said he has had a lot of phone calls and emails about the new regulations.

One item that did not make the grade was Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuits, which some PTAs sold as fund-raisers. The maximum sodium allowed for breakfast is 450-480 mg, and the chicken biscuits came in at 1,210 mg of sodium, he said.

Budget proposal 

The Mansfield school board got its first look at the budget last week, with a proposal for across the board raises for the staff.

Karen Wiesman, director of business and finance, laid out a $242,189,747 general fund budget proposal, that included a minimum of 2 percent raises for teachers (more dependent upon years of experience), 3 percent increase for paraprofessionals/auxiliary and 2 percent raise for professionals/administrators.

The proposed budget was based on $1.54 tax rate per $100 of assessed value, including $1.04 for maintenance and operation funds and 50 cents for debt service funds.

Currently, the tax rate is $1.5271 with $1.04 for maintenance and operations funds and 48.71 cents for debt service funds.

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