At a Swansea School Committee session this week, the Superintendent of Public Schools John Robidoux explained to the various members the district’s issue at the moment with a negative balance in the lunch program.
“Two weeks ago, we received the negative lunch balances for each school,” Robidoux said. “I’m here to share with the committee that it is not in good shape. At this time, we are roughly $4100 dollars in the negative combined. This number is more than double than at this same time last year. This is odd to me because we put ia solid plan in place to address this issue with parents.”
The issue seems to be cause in most part due a lack of transferring of funds into student accounts that are used for school lunches or not getting in the necessary paperwork for free or reduced lunches.
Robidoux told the committee those utilizing a free or reduced lunch program need to submit that paperwork annually - it is not carried over from the previous school year.
“As the committee knows, we have moved away from shaming kids with the cheese sandwich lunches when parents didn’t pay for lunches,” Swansea’s Superintendent said. “As we look through the numbers and situations, a handful of them were free and reduced lunch participants not handing the paperwork in on time or thinking it rolled over every year. Free and reduced lunch has to be applied for each year.”
The district is continuing to promote the “My School Bucks” Initiative where accounts can be replenished digitally and will notify you of waning balances or anything else of note.
“My School Bucks is the best way to go,” Robidoux told the committee. “I know there’s a small cost but it sends you email and text notifications for anything you need to know. You can even add balances from those notifications. It’s the best to avoid getting in the hole.”
Robidoux planned to meet with the various principals of the district to try and find an equitable solution to this issue as the school year winds down to a close.