BEATRICE – The Beatrice School Board has opted not to have the district participate in the Community Eligibility Program for school meals but stay with a national program that offers free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch to children of eligible families.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jackie Nielsen says the CEP can reduce paperwork but can cost the district up to a half-million dollars to implement at all grade levels. Five school buildings would qualify to take part in the certification program, but not the high school.

"The federal government helps pay for a part of that, but then the district pays for the rest. So, there is a cost to districts that take part in the community eligibility program because they have to use general fund money to pick up the remainder. The lunch program that we currently have, is self-sufficient. They pay for a large majority of everything they have. The pay for the food, they pay for repairs."

Equipment and staffing is also covered under the free and reduce price program…and the school district is eligible to seek grants with the documentation that helps determine families in need. Nielsen said the meal program in the district has been self-sufficient since 2012. "We have a system that's working well. We work diligently with families. One of the things we have done this year is we have asked community organizations to donate and individuals to donate. They have donated a huge amount of money."

Monday night, the school board approved lunch program freezer improvements at both the Beatrice Middle School and High school, that total $27,147.
"Nutrition services will pay for this. That's part of the beauty of the national school lunch that nutrition services takes care of itself and they do take care of the equipment."

The improvements involve insulation work on the freezer at the middle school and a newly sealed floor under the freezer at the high school. The work is recommended following a health inspection of the facilities.

Monday night in other action…the Beatrice School Board set the bus transportation fee for this coming school year at $160…the same rate as the past year. Some nearby districts charge as much as $600 to $800 per family.  The Beatrice school district will be reviewing the costs and is also reviewing bus routes. Rural, special education and free-and-reduced-price meal students ride the bus at no charge.