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Matawan Aberdeen BOE Considers New Student Lunch Charges Policy

The policy concerns student lunch accounts that are overdrawn by $10 or more.

The Matawan Aberdeen Board of Education is considering a new lunch policy that would provide the district a means to collect outstanding balances on students' lunch accounts. 

The policy was up for a second reading and adoption at the board's regular action meeting on Jan. 28. However, member Joelle Nappi asked the board to hold the policy for further consideration, citing vague language and the fact that the policy was created by the previous board. 

The new policy, if adopted, would establish a uniform process to notify parents about overdrawn accounts and offer them information on free and reduced lunch as well as ensure that each child receives lunch regardless of their financial standing with the food service management company, according to Superintendent David Healy.

"It's designed to provide a progressive process in addressing delinquent payments on lunch charges," Healy said. "The district is right now over $30,000 in arrears because the district is very compassionate in serving the kids lunch."

According to Policy 6641 - Student Lunch Charges, the district would require the food service management company to supply a list of students with negative balances each week. 

The policy would allow students to purchase lunch on credit if they lost or forgot their lunch money or do not have enough money in their student lunch account. When the balance of the account reaches $10, the policy states that the student will be provided a standard lunch and given a note to take home to their parent or guardian. The note will explain that the child was served lunch, the total balance owed and that on the next occasion lunch will be limited. An application for free and reduced lunch will also be supplied.

On the second occasion that the student charges the account with a $10 or more debt, the student will be served an alternative lunch. The alternative lunch, according to the policy, will take into account dietary concerns for the specific student. The student would then be again given a note explaining that the child was served an alternative lunch and the debt owed. In addition, the principal or a designated school employee will call the parent or guardian to review the requirements and what will occur if the account continues to be overcharged.

After the third occasion that the student charges the account, the student will again receive an alternative lunch and a certified letter will be sent home by the principal describing the debt and future action. Another call home will be made by the principal or the designee, the policy states. 

If an account balance reaches $25, the food service management company would also send a letter home to the parent, according to the policy. 

If the account were to reach a $50 balance, the policy would allow the administration to seek reimbursement through a collections agency or by starting litigation against the parent or guardian. 

A copy of Policy 6641, if adopted, would be sent home to all parents upon adoption and at the beginning of each school year. It would also be available on the district website.

Editor's note: The policy, as it was proposed on Jan. 28, is included under the photo attached to this article.

The next meeting of the Board of Education will be a workshop meeting on Monday, Feb. 11 at the administrative building on Crest Way in Aberdeen. 

Diane Caso February 06, 2013 at 10:32 PM
How about NOT allowing children to buy anything but nutricious food for lunch. When my son was a student, a parent could allocate which money could be used to purchase the actual meal...and how much for "snacks"...and ,payment was made PRIOR to the student spending it,,, free/reduced lunch forms are filled out at the beginning of the school year, or, because of a change in financial status as needed. Of course, OCCASIONALLY a student forgets to bring in lunch money...but certainly not 30 thousand dollars worth...!
momoftwo February 08, 2013 at 01:13 AM
I am just wondering if the Board knows how fast a kid can run the bill up? They used to send a slip home but have not had one in forever. I know we went well over ten bucks a couple times this year. I get that if somone owes hundreds Chartwells needs the money but collecting through a agency on less than 1 or 2 hundred is dumb. What ever happened to no reportcard or diploma if you owe money? They seem to spend all their time worrying about nickles and yet they spend millions on god knows what.
Laura Porter February 10, 2013 at 08:13 PM
I commend this board for tabling this for more discussionso there can be a refinement of the procedures &/or dollar amounts that induce actions. BTW - They do understand how easy it is to run up a bill. I overheard a couple of them say as much at the last meeting. The next meeting is a Committee of the Whole (not taped) on 2/11 - Monday night at 7 PM at Cambridge Park School.
Aberdeen Homeowner March 01, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Imagine not sending your child to school without the packing or providing a way for them to have a decent meal during a long school day. Shame on the parent who allows this to continue and hold others accountable for providing proper nutrition. In the end this is another burden on the taxpayers. What would be done if we did not provide food for our animals. Surely someone would call animal control. Maybe DYFS should be contacted as these parents are neglecting their responsibility to care for their child/children.
Chelsea Naso (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 10:07 PM
This item was on the agenda for the Feb. 25 meeting, but it was held as the committee that would review it did not have adequate time to go over it. I will update everyone as more information is available.

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