Amy Cunningham
At the demands of the Department of Agriculture, Spring Hill district officials were forced to adopt an increase in fees for the 2011-12 school year at Monday evening’s board of education meeting.
“The only change we’re asking for is on lunch and breakfast,” stated Bart Goering, Spring Hill Superintendent.  “The minimum increase is a nickel. We would want to go with the minimum increase.”
The increase comes as a result of the Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  The act requires schools to compare the average price charged for lunches served to students that receive paid lunches to the difference between the higher federal reimbursement provided for free lunches and the lower Federal reimbursement provided for paid lunches.  If the average paid lunch price is less than the difference, the school food authority must either gradually adjust average prices or provide non-federal funding to cover the difference.
A document on the program released by the Department of Agriculture says that the purpose will increase federal subsidies for children receiving paid lunches because funding from the government is being used to shore up the gap between the actual cost of producing the lunch and the amount of money a district is reimbursed.  The document states that all students are adversely affected by limiting the funds available to provide nutritious meals.
According to the Department of Agriculture, research indicates that average prices charged for paid lunches in some districts are less than the cost of producing those lunches. Increasing the costs of lunches, the department contends, will help ensure schools have funding available to support serving nutritious meals to all students.
“We’re doing this to get reimbursed from the federal government,” Goering explained.
Lunch costs for elementary and intermediate students will bump up to $2.10 per meal.  Middle school and high school students will now pay $2.30 per meal.  Adults will pay $3.10 to eat lunch in the district.  Milk fees will remain at .50¢.
The district will also increase pay-to-ride bus fees.  Goering said that the district needed to adjust their pricing to cover the costs of a three percent increase in the district’s transportation contract for the 2011-12 year.  He said that additional fuel costs coupled with the addition of several bus routes have resulted in higher costs to the district.  Currently there is not enough funding in the district’s general fund to absorb the increased costs.
Costs to bus riders will increase $10 per child and bring the total to $260 per year.  The maximum amount a family will pay is $390 per for all students picked up at the same address – up $15 per year.