News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 18, 2013
DIS School board approves principal contracts
School lunch policy discussed

by Jessica Brophy

At the July 2 meeting of the Community School District #13 board, the contracts of high school principal Todd West and elementary school principal Mike Benjamin were approved by the board.

West received a 3.5 percent raise and Benjamin a 2.5 percent raise.

The board also discussed a policy at the elementary school aimed at reminding or encouraging parents delinquent on their child’s lunch bill to pay up.

Benjamin said the cafeteria serves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to students instead of the hot meal if the student’s lunch bill has gone unpaid.

Several of the board members expressed concern about the policy, which Benjamin said is not used often.

“A child can’t learn if they’re hungry,” said board member Stephen York. “It’s not the child’s fault.”

“It does send a message to the parent, maybe they’re too proud to fill out a [free and reduced school lunch] form, or too lazy to fill out a check,” said Benjamin.

Approximately 20-30 students account for nearly $1,000 worth of unpaid meal costs, said Benjamin. At times that figure has been worse.

The real problem is that the front office becomes a “collection agency of sorts,” constantly calling parents. Benjamin said the front office is happy to work with parents who need flexibility on lunch payments.

Benjamin reminded the board that all information pertaining to free and reduced lunch is confidential, and there is no indication to staff or other students if a student receives free or reduced lunch.

On a related note, the board unanimously approved a school lunch price of $2.60 for full price, and 40 cents for reduced lunch.

The board unanimously denied (5-0) a request for two days of leave by kindergarten teacher Lucy Astbury, to begin winter vacation two days early. Superintendent Mark Jenkins said the contract states that only one personal day may be used to extend a vacation.

Summer school has begun, meaning that busses will be out on the roads. Benjamin asked drivers to be cautious and aware.