Students to get free lunches next year

Published 9:37 am Friday, June 28, 2013

Starting next school year, all Decatur County school students will be able to eat breakfast and lunch free of charge.

During Tuesday’s Decatur County Board of Education meeting, Debbie Purcell, the system’s Nutrition Director, outlined the county’s participation in the federal Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.

For the next four years, the county will utilize the Community Eligibility Option to allow all students, regardless of family income levels, to receive breakfast and lunch free.

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Because of the system’s high ratio of students eligible for free or reduced-cost meals, with or without an application, the entire system became eligible to participate in the program. Currently, 74.1 percent of Decatur County students are eligible for free or reduced meals under the former system.

“For at least four years, we have a great program for our families,” Purcell said. “Some of the major benefits, from the school perspective, is the time saved not having to receive and process the paper applications and the time saved not having to collect and manage meal charges. For the community, whatever the family was having to pay, either reduced or full-charge, for lunches will now be able to use that money for something else the family needs.”

Last year, a full-pay lunch at Bainbridge High School was $1.60 and $1.25 at all other schools. Reduced cost lunches cost 40 cents.

With participation in this program, the system will receive an additional $197,000 in federal school nutrition funding.

The board also approved several personnel recommendations. Kathy Varner was named Federal Programs Director in the central office, replacing Dr. April Aldridge, who was named Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Curriculum last month.

Varner’s move leaves vacant the principal position at John Johnson Elementary School. The open position must be advertised for 14 days and a new principal could be named at the July 18 board meeting.

At Bainbridge High School, Scott Miller was approved as assistant principal and Deborah Brown was promoted to assistant principal at West Bainbridge Elementary School. Amy Robinson’s move to assistant principal at Jones-Wheat Elementary School was also approved.

Lauren Turner will move from Jones-Wheat Elementary School, where she served as assistant principal, to an assistant principal at Bainbridge High School in charge of the New Beginnings Learning Center, or alternative school.

The former director of the alternative school, Michael Austin, was named the assistant principal and safety director at Hutto Middle School.

The board also voted unanimously to accept a bid of $13,500 from Edward Reynolds for a 0.17-acre tract of surplus land. The small tract is located adjacent to existing property owned by Reynolds and the site of Bainbridge Pharmacy. Reynolds’ bid was the only bid received by the board to purchase the property.