Board of Ed Waives Tuition for MCLB Students, Considers System-Wide Free Meals

Worth County Board of Education held its first board meeting for the year last Thursday night. Kristen Garland, Nutrition Director for Worth County Schools presented the Community Eligibility Provision. Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is an alternative to collecting, approving, and verifying household eligibility applications for free and reduced price eligible students in high poverty local educational agencies (LEAs) for schools participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
For an LEA to be eligible to use CEP for a school year, the LEA must have one or more schools having an identified student percentage of 40% or greater as of April 1 prior to  the beginning of the new school year. Last year for Worth County School System, the percentage was 56.29% in April.
The LEA and school must agree to offer all enrolled students breakfasts and lunches at no cost (free) and cover any cost above the federal reimbursement received with non-federal funds. CEP is approved for four successive school years, with an option annually to return to traditional meal counting and claiming procedures. Each year by June 30, the school must opt in or out of the program for the coming school year. Reimbursement for schools participating in CEP is based on claiming percentages (free and paid only) derived from the percentages of identified students multiplied by an USDA established factor.
According to Garland, this would not apply to a student having a second meal. That one must be paid. More information will be presented to the board at a later date for them to vote on in a May meeting.
Based on last year’s numbers, the county would have to pay about 10% for the difference. Garland believes the program would be an asset for the school system.
In other business, a motion was approved for the Memorandum of Understanding with the Marine Corps Logistics Base to permit children of active duty military members who reside on the base to attend Worth County Schools with no tuition fees effective Jan. 9, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2018.
The former Holley Elementary School building was also a topic of conversation. Chairman Butch Jenkins and board member Melvin Jefferson met with Family Visions Outreach Center Director, Judy Hall.  She and the Housing Authority are jointly applying for a grant that will allow more low income housing for Sylvester. Hall asked the board to make an in-kind monetary donation by donating the seven acres that currently houses Holley School. The donation of the land would be made to Family Visions Outreach Center and Sylvester Housing Authority. She also requested the board pay to have the school demolished at an approximate cost of $200,000.
After discussing the matter, the board agreed the school needs demolishing. The school building has had multiple break-ins since it was vacated. The building was vacated because of roof leaks and problems  with mold, which rendered the facility unusable. The board agreed to further discuss its demolition but is currently not in favor of donating the land.
The next Worth County Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.

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