Loss of funding could mean changes to student meals in West Feliciana Parish | Saint Francisville

Due to federal funding, the West Feliciana Parish school system has not charged students for breakfast and lunch in years, but that may change in the next school year.

Director of Food Services Pat Gilmore, while presenting a quarterly financial report to the school board on Feb. 15, said students have not been charged for eating in the cafeteria since the 2015 school year- 2016, but she and Superintendent Hollis Milton said they were studying a possible fee schedule for the 2022-23 school year.

Gilmore also said she hopes another round of federal funding will be approved.

“We’re hoping that (the federal program) will be renewed, but if not, we’re working on Plan B, which would include billing for meals again,” Milton said.

Parish schools provided free breakfasts and lunches to all students as part of a four-year program that covered the cost of meals in some very poor school districts. The United States Department of Agriculture has extended the program through the current school year due to the continued economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the country.

Milton said his staff will be looking closely at school catering staff, food costs, menu selection and other factors in the coming months to develop a pricing schedule if necessary.

The study will include an in-depth examination of the possible costs of serving meals at the new primary school in Les Bains, which is nearing completion. After visits to some Texas schools, administrators at West Feliciana plan to transition from a traditional service line to a cafe-style service line, Milton said.

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The arrangement will have three U-shaped service lines which will provide more choice, he said.

Gilmore also reported that the civic organization Happi Landers paid the school district $1,930 to pay off student lunch debts that had been on the books since 2016.

Milton also briefly mentioned two other changes related to the construction project: the relocation of the first year of Les Bains Primary School to the new Les Bains Primary School and the addition of a third assistant director to the staff.

With five grade levels, Bains Elementary will be the largest school in the parish, with about 800 students, he said.

In other actions, the council:

  • Approval of a $10,737 change order for the continuation of construction of the secondary school, bringing the total cost to date to $13,418,156. The additional costs were for the details of the new high school gymnasium, which was first used on February 8.
  • Recognized Stephanie Whetstone, Deputy Principal of Bains Elementary, who recently completed the rigorous program to obtain national certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. Whetstone was a teacher when she started working for the honor, Milton said.
  • Recognized career technology instructors Jason McCray and Paul Theriot for winning awards of excellence from the Greater Baton Rouge Industrial Alliance, which connects area industries with school-based career technology programs. Theriot also won the organization’s designation as a champion for high school craft education. The board also praised the two for encouraging some students to finish high school when they might have been tempted to drop out.

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