automatic News for 10-24-2019

NJ school district bans students with school lunch debt from prom

Kids with Lunch Debt Can’t Attend Prom, Field Trips in NJ District

A New Jersey school district is facing backlash after passing a new policy that bans students with $75 or more in lunch debt from attending field trips, prom and other extracurricular activities. The Cherry Hill school district passed the policy at a school board meeting on Tuesday, a spokeswoman confirms to PEOPLE, several months after it stirred up controversy over a rule that limited students with debt to a tuna fish sandwich for lunch, the Cherry Hill Courier-Post reported. The policy applies to all students in the district, and bars high school and middle school students from participating in extracurriculars excluding athletics, buying tickets for school dances like prom, attending class trips and buying a yearbook. Elementary school students cannot participate in after-school activities and cannot attend field trips. It is a discretionary policy, meaning the penalties have the potential to be waived by a principal on a case-by-case basis, the Courier-Post reported. 

The fixes to the policy made it so that students who owed $10 or more were to be served the meal of the day, and so that no student would be denied a lunch no matter their debt. The policy that passed on Tuesday incorporates the revised plan. reported that the school district had $14,343 in unpaid meal debt in the 2018-2019 school year, though its food program has still turned a $200,000 profit. Wilson told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the district will not be accepting donations from those looking to help eliminate the debt, as local businessman Steve Ravitz said on Facebook he hoped to do. Meloche said in his statement he never heard from Ravitz directly, and that calls to Ravitz were not returned. 

Meloche instead encouraged those wishing to donate to do so to the Friday Food Backpack Program, which was launched last year thanks to a $25,000 grant that has since run out. The program saw the district send food home with children in five different schools on a weekly basis. 

Keywords: [“school”,”district”,”policy”]

Get rid of lunch debt, Elizabeth Warren says, pointing to N.J. district’s ‘cruel’ policy

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, is weighing in on a school-lunch debt problem in Cherry Hill, shining a national spotlight on a metastasizing local scrum. Warren posted a tweet referencing Cherry Hill, which passed a plan to punish students with more than $20 in lunch debt by limiting participation in some extra-curricular activities, including senior prom. In a plan she announced on Monday, Warren said she would use a wealth tax to increase school funding by hundreds of billions of dollars, to – among other things – cancel student lunch and breakfast debt and provide free meals. Cherry Hill adopted the new lunch/breakfast plan earlier this month after initially considering cutting off meals if kids reached $20 or more of food debt. 

That plan would have also limited students with $10 or more of debt to a tuna salad sandwich as opposed to a menu of choices. The tuna sandwich proposal was withdrawn from the plan adopted this month and local officials said every student would continue to be served food regardless of delinquent payments. The district had $14,343 in meal debt in the last school year from more than 300 students who owed more than $10. The $3 million food program turned a $200,000 profit in the last school year despite the lunch debts. Shugars said she believes the accounts in arrears will continue to grow without action. 

Local officials said they were mandated to take action by a state policy that calls for cutting off meals after $20 of debt. Cherry Hill officials have forgiven more than $25,000 of delinquent payments in previous years before the debt rose again. School officials recently refused an offer from a local supermarket chain owner to pay the delinquent lunch debt, according to published reports. 

Keywords: [“debt”,”school”,”student”]

Cherry Hill school lunch debt: District responds to claim of spurned donation

CHERRY HILL – A retired Cherry Hill businessman is asking why donors can’t help resolve the $16,500 school lunch debt that became a subject of national controversy. Cherry Hill school board approves lunch-money policy. Board gives initial OK to new school lunch policy in Cherry Hill.Cherry Hill school superintendent Joseph Meloche has not spoken to Ravitz directly about the apparent offer of a donation, according to Barbara Wilson, public information officer for the district. The Cherry Hill Board of Education and Meloche have maintained that donations are not the preferred resolution for the lunch debt issue. Another reason for avoiding donations is that they might inadvertently cover bills for families who are able to pay for school lunches, officials have said. 

Cherry Hill cleared $25,000 in school lunch debt two years ago to start with a clean slate. The protracted and highly public debate began over the summer as the Cherry Hill school district began discussions over how to address the debt. The district had not been enforcing a state statute that allowed districts to withhold school lunches. Once the school board began considering enforcement of other existing policies – including one that allowed for an alternate lunch such as tuna-fish sandwiches for students with delinquent lunch accounts – the issue exploded into a national controversy. At an Oct. 15 board meeting, a new school lunch policy won unanimous approval. 

The new school lunch policy is discretionary, so any penalties could be waived on a case-by-case basis by a school principal. Amid all the controversy, Meloche said the bottom line is that no children in Cherry Hill public schools are denied a lunch. 

Keywords: [“lunch”,”school”,”CHERRY”]