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Fort Worth school breakfasts, lunches going up in fall

FORT WORTH -- Students will pay more for school breakfasts and lunch when classes begin Aug. 25.Fort Worth school trustees voted 5-4 Tuesday night to increase the price of meals by 25 cents to offset increasing fuel, utility and food costs.

The price increase will affect about 30 percent of the district's students. The rest are in the federally subsidized free- and reduced-lunch program.

Trustee Carlos Vasquez urged board members to vote against an increase. Some working families that don't qualify for the federal program are still struggling to make ends meet.

"Put yourselves in the shoes of some of our constituents," Vasquez told fellow members. "Are we in the business of making a profit from students?"

Juan Rangel, T.A. Sims and Christene Moss also voted against the measure. School board President Ray Dickerson and trustees Chris Hatch, Jean McClung, Norm Robbins and Judy Needham voted for the hike.

Students will now pay 75 cents for breakfast. Lunches for elementary school students will cost $1.50, and $1.75 in middle and high schools.

The district expects to generate $350,000 from the price increase, which will help cover employee raises, equipment needs and food costs.

Food-related costs have gone up 12.5 percent, or $2 million, according to the district.

In other business, the board:

■ Voted 9-0 in favor of planned improvements to Meacham Middle School and M.H. Moore Elementary. Classroom additions for the schools were included in the district's $593.6 million bond package approved by voters last fall. Because of demographic patterns, Moore will get 10 classrooms instead of eight; Meacham will get 14 instead of 16.

The district will shift $375,000 from the Meacham project to contingency funds. That money will then be used to pay for the Moore addition, said Walter Dansby, deputy superintendent overseeing the bond.

The improvements at Meacham will total $4.3 million. The Moore project will total $3.5 million.

■ Voted 9-0 in favor of placing the Applied Learning Academy under a traditional school calendar. The new calendar takes effect when school starts Aug. 25.

That leaves Alice Carlson and Jo Kelly School, for special-education students, as the only district schools with the extended schedules.