Board votes to lose free lunches for all - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Board votes to lose free lunches for all

December 13, 2004

Albany- Soon parents of Dougherty County School students will get letters explaining they may have to start paying for school lunches.

"It was necessary to put a plan into place to eradicate the deficit," said Chairman C. W. Grant.

Monday night, the school board ended its program to give breakfast and lunch to every student.

The department that oversees the budget built up a $3.9 million deficit. The director, Stan McWhorter, resigned last week. In January, anyone previously eligible for free and reduced lunch must reapply. Board Chairman C. W. Grant says it's important for the community to know money wasn't stolen.

"Certainly if something was missing a crime would have taken place and we would have done what was necessary when crimes take place. We're not dealing with any missing money," Grant said.

Four board members voted to get end the program. District 1 representative David Maschke voted against ending universal lunches. He said the system has promoted the program as one that helped a number of students by ensuring they were well fed and ready to learn.

"I'm not willing to vote away a positive program without being provided significant and substantial data," Maschke said referring to the one-line resolution the board was presented with by school system administration.

Board members Judge Willie Weave and Michael Windom both abstained from the vote.

The lunch price hasn't been set yet. Students who don't qualify for the free and reduced program will begin paying again in February.

Finance Director Robert Lloyd says the system will save $300,000 in the last seventy days of school with the change.

posted at 9:51 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com