School District building with no snowPetersburg School District is creating a meal charging policy to meet a new federal rule, which requires all districts to have one in place. KFSK’s Angela Denning reports:

The purpose of the new policy is to prevent students from charging meals and then not paying later. School board member Mara Lutomski spoke about the issue during a recent KFSK talk show.

“Either way, whether we’re doing a good job or whether we’re doing a not so good job a policy has to be created,” Lutomski said.

Carlee Wells, the lunch program coordinator for the district, has created a committee to come up with a meals policy. Lutomski is part of that committee.

“Right now, we’re look at just kind of getting the education out there that we would like parents to pre-pay any meals,” Lutomski said. “At the beginning of the year it’s easy to throw down a few bucks and then as your student charges, it would decrease and then you would get a notification that, ‘Hey, it’s time to refill your lunch card’ is what a lot of people remember from the past.”

Those lunch cards are all electronic now, which parents can pay on-line. They can also be paid at the front offices of the schools and at the district office. Any excess funds in the account at the end of the year get paid back to families. Or families can choose to hold the funds for the next school year.

Superintendent, Erica Kludt-Painter, says the new meals program will ultimately keep communications more open between schools and parents.

“So people don’t end up with a big sticker shock if you want to call it that, where they get a call and it’s November and you say, ‘Your child’s been having lunch for 60 days or something like that’,” Kludt-Painter said. “And people think they’ve been sending a lunch with their student and they probably have been but that communication piece can kind of be difficult sometimes. We don’t refuse meals, is what I would say. So, if I child comes we don’t really…you don’t want to make a seven-year-old feel bad in a lunch line and start giving them an interrogation about, ‘Didn’t you bring a lunch?’ You know, that kind of thing.”

She says regular communication with families about lunches will help everyone stay on top of meal purchases. Each school office is trying to do a weekly check on students’ meal accounts.

Lutomski says they are welcoming others who are interested in helping form a meals policy for the school district to join in the discussion.

The federal deadline to have a school district’s meal charging policy in place is July 1, 2017.